Description: This is a European-style tile-laying game that plays reasonably quickly (~30-40 minutes) and is usually manageable for younger audiences (8+, though you might consider removing the farmers from play for the younger audiences to keep it simple!). Gameplay requires a combination of strategy and luck, and is different every game. There are available expansion sets to add new elements, but we'd recommend starting with just the base set until you are comfortable with the game rules.
In our family, Carcassonne is the go to board game! (The expansion sets make great great presents for Christine!). Even though we play Carcassone a lot, it has always been a personal favorite of mine. I have grown up with this game and its ability to entertain ages 8-80 is astounding. This is definitely something to have in your closet for those hot cocoa afternoons because it is not too complex, but it does take a fair amount of time to play. Personally the game itself is fun but is best with more players.
This is one of my all-time favorite board games and is the game that really got me into gaming. I love it's simplicity as far as the rules go, but within that simplicity is room for strategy and creativity. The expansion sets (particularly the one with the dragon!) add an extra layer of fun and I enjoy mixing and matching different sets to really change up the game-play. The game is easy for new players to learn which makes it ideal for game nights with friends. And, it is family-friendly without the need for math or literacy skills, but still provides plenty of opportunity for strategizing, planning, and thinking, which makes it ideal for parents and kids to play together! I think it is a good basic to have in any game closet and a great game for introducing people to the Euro Style genre in general.