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This year's Christmas gift symbolises calm in a troubled world


At a time of heightened conflict, unrest and economic challenges, the safe board game has been named Christmas Gift of the Year. "The board game captures the importance of doing something fun together that doesn't require a screen," says consumer researcher Ulrika Holmberg.

Are you a fan of board games? Then you might be in for a treat when Santa Claus arrives this year. Because chances are that many of the presents will be some kind of board game. At least if the Trade Research Institute (HUI) has got it right. For the 36th year in a row, HUI has now revealed the Christmas gift of the year, and the choice fell on the slightly nostalgic board game. The parlour game has had an upswing in recent years, and consumer researcher Ulrika Holmberg at the Gothenburg Research Institute at the University of Gothenburg definitely thinks it is something that feels relevant this year.

"This is a fun Christmas present that combines entertainment and knowledge," she says.

Ulrika Holmberg, porträtt
Ulrika Holmberg at GRI/School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg
Photo: Hillevi Nagel

The baking machine was the first product to become Christmas Gift of the Year in 1988, and since then we have seen everything from products such as the CD player (1991), the electronic pet (1997) and the spiked carpet (2009), to the slightly more diffuse 'an experience' (2008), and last year's 'home-knitted garment'.

This is a fun Christmas present that combines entertainment and knowledge

Ulrika Holmberg believes that the Christmas present of the year has become something of an archive of the changing zeitgeist. This also applies to this year's choice, where HUI's justification reads: "In a world characterised by war, violence and economic difficulties, board games are an opportunity to disconnect from the outside world for a while and instead experience being with loved ones. Parlour games stand for security but also for escapism and development."

"The board game captures the importance of doing something fun together with family and friends that does not require a screen," says Ulrika Holmberg,

However, she emphasises the fact that board games today can be played both on site and digitally, as a clear trend is product development that makes the games "phygital", i.e. they mix elements from board games, role-playing games and digital games. 

When Ulrika Holmberg herself gets to choose a board game, she is attracted to both escapism and knowledge.

"I like games that have fun with language, clever wording, and also those that deal with historical destinations in various ways."

Text by: Agnes Faxén