There is something quite nostalgic when it comes to a family game night. It has become more popular recently due to us all spending loads of time at home. Many families like the idea of having a set night each week where they enjoy games and food together. The games can be physical games, strategy games, or good old-fashioned board games. It is a lovely way to spend some quality time with your family. However, the first thing to discuss is what family game night activities you enjoy.
Family game nights can be a way to open up communication channels with your kids. Whilst kids enjoy fun activities, they may open up and tell you what is going on in their lives. When they are actively involved in a favorite board game, it’s easy to casually drop in a comment about something that is worrying them in real life. Equally well, sitting around the dining room table may be a good time to each state something good that happened that week. This is a simple game to kick off the family fun.
When deciding what the best games are for your family, there are a couple of considerations to make. After all, it depends on which family members are getting involved. Whether you have older kids or younger ones, try to find the right balance where everyone can enjoy the evening. It got me thinking about some of the best family game night activities and what they may involve. So I wanted to share with you some of the best ones to consider that the whole family will enjoy. I have covered games suitable for younger children and ones you can enjoy with your teens. So let’s get to it.
Things to think about when planning a family game night
First of all, you need to think about planning the family games night. As much as you want to be spontaneous, the truth is, planning will make it all the more enjoyable. Here are some of best ways to get organized:
- Prioritize it – As much as life can be chaotic the aim of a family game night is to spend quality time together. So make sure you write it on the family calendar. Sticking to the same night each week will help all the family members to remember and turn it into one of your new family traditions.
- Have a few rules in place to ensure that you can enjoy you family game night activities. You don’t want to suck the fun out of it, but some rules will help keep everyone enjoying it. I suggest at least having a start and end time.
- Stock up on snacks and drinks. You could take it in turns to choose the snacks or choose one snack each to share. You could even have an ice cream interval halfway through the evening! Create your own ice cream sundaes with sprinkles, fruit and sauces.
- Let everyone participate. Some families have older and younger kids to consider, so pick something the younger kids can do that won’t bore the older kids.. There are some great game ideas suggested below that will work for both young kids to teenagers.
- Turn off the electronics – This is very important. Make it clear that this is not screen time for kids. No phones at the table and that includes Mom and Dad!
- Take suggestions from each family member. Sometimes it’s good to take turns when it comes to picking the game you play. Each has an opportunity to choose the game.
Family game night activities for younger families
Some parents may shy away from family game nights when they have younger children. However, there are so many great ideas that you can do with younger kids. Games are an excellent way for them to spend time with you. They can teach them things like concentration and focus, and you can all have a great time free from the distractions of technology like the TV.
However, younger children aren’t going to be wanting to play things that are too complicated, and let’s face it, some of the games we like to play might be for older kids. But I have some great family game night activities you can enjoy with younger children. Here are my suggestions.
Orchard Toys games
Orchard Toys is a brand that has some incredible games perfect for preschool and primary school children. They are very much education based with teaching numbers and things like time but also a lot of fun. They are the perfect games to play with young children and you can pick up different types to suit different ages. Plus, they are adaptable, so once you finish playing the games you can use the pieces to maybe make up your own games or adapt the games in a different way to keep kids engaged.
There is a kit that you can buy called Headbanz which is a plastic headband and the wearer has to place a card on the top. The person wearing that headband with that card will not know what their card says and it is up to their teammates to try and help them guess it without actually saying what it is. It could be a person or an item.
If you don’t want to buy the headbands then you can easily replicate this yourself. You can get some sticky notes and write something down and stick it on another person’s head. This is a great games night idea for children of all ages, as you can make the guessing as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. You could also elaborate on the game and make it harder for older children such as not saying certain words, or answering with a yes or a no.
This is a game night activity that is a little more active than sitting down at the table and playing board games. A scavenger hunt can be so many different things. Basically, you will be hunting down different things or solving clues to find the end prize. However, this can be tailored to suit all of your children and can be different each time you choose to embrace one.
For example, a scavenger hunt could be finding certain things in your home. Try creating teams of mixed ages if you are a big family or work individually. Tell younger kids to hunt something a particular color or texture. You could also theme it based on the time of the year, so do a Christmas scavenger hunt or an Easter one.
I’ve made it easy for you with some printable scavenger hunt cards here
and some treasure hunt clues for older kids here.
Scavenger hunts can also take place outside of the home, so it might involve a family walk where you seek to spot certain things like colored leaves, plants, or animals. This is a perfect option for younger children as it gets them engaged in different activities.
Another easy game would be to hide small coins in the backyard or garden for the kids to find. The small price of this game outweighs the fun they will have searching for the coins. Bonus: they have to add up what they have found in order to keep the money (a sneaky way to get them to do some math!)
Today, you can find many board games and card games that are aimed at children of all ages. These are usually more interactive than some of the classic games you may have grown up with. These interactive games usually involve a prop of some description that is battery-operated. For example, a dad that you can’t wake up as you make your way across the game squares, a washing line that will fling off the clothes on someone’s go meaning they are “out” or even some old-school games like Operation has had a bit of a reboot. These games are great fun and perfect for younger kids to grasp and engage with. Plus they don’t go on for too long, which often means that you can end the game night on a high.
Card games for younger children
There is something very nostalgic about a deck of cards and while you may reserve these games for older children, more on that later, it can be something you do with younger kids as well. There are some easy card games that you can teach your younger children, things like Uno which works well with all ages.
Another new game we love is Monopoly Deal. Based on the traditional game, it’s easy to understand and play. Card games also have the advantage of being portable so are great if you are away from home on vacation and want to stick to your family game night tradition.
This is something that is definitely a lot of fun, and while I have placed it as a game night idea for when you have younger children I really don’t see why older children wouldn’t love this as well. Especially as it can get very competitive. You do need a bit of space for this, and some balloons, but that is it.
Balloon tennis is exactly how it sounds, you are bouncing the balloon with your hand from one side to the other, the aim is for your opponent to miss the balloon and the person with the most points will win. You can do this individually, or you can choose to play against teams of two. If you are doing it with more than one person you may need a bit more space, and you might want to create a “net” so that you can determine each person’s side to keep it fair. There’s no better way to get the whole family active and enjoying themselves.
Another great family game night idea would be to do some indoor bowling. If you have a bowling set then this would be a great time to use it and set it up. If you don’t have one, it’s easy to improvise with some water bottles and a tennis ball. Game rules are easy. You can each take turns and score points for how many pins you knock over. Decide on how many rounds you do and the winner is the person with the most points at the end. Simple!
Hide and seek
If you are looking for a fun game to enjoy with the kids then look no further than hide and seek. This is a great game to play with children under 10. You can enjoy playing it inside or, on a warm summer evening, you could look to take the game outside. Hide and seek is simple. You have one person who is seeking and the rest are hiding. The last person to be found is the winner. You can all take it in turns to seek. You might find it is a game that lasts quite some time.
An alternative is that the first person hides and when each person finds them, they have to hide with them too. The last person to fine everyone is the loser.
While you can enjoy obstacle courses with the entire family, you may find that younger children will be more willing to take part in this fast-paced game. Creating your own obstacle course in your home or the garden and then timing yourselves to see how fast you can complete it is certainly going to be a lot of fun. It will also bring out that competitive nature between you all. You could even buy cheap medals (or make them) and award them to the first, second and third winners.
You can find more outdoor games for kids here >>
Family game night ideas for older kids
Let’s be honest with ourselves, when we have older children we seem to spend less time with them as they favor their friends, their bedrooms and technology like video games.
In truth, family nights are more important than ever when it comes to connecting with older kids. But you need games that don’t seem too young or childish. Older children will embrace games that you may also enjoy as an adult. So here are some of the best game night ideas for older kids.
Organize a taste test. Get 10 different cans of soda (non alcoholic) and cover the cans in wrapping paper. Give everyone a straw and a sheet of paper with the numbers 1-10. Get them to identify each drink. If you cannot find 10 different sodas or you want to be a bit sneaky with older kids, you could use an empty soda can, rinse it out then fill it with a different drink eg apple juice. Just make sure no one has any allergies or that you have taken allergies into account.
The classic game of who’s done it? this is one that will end differently each and every time. The board game is designed for each player to try and figure out who is the murderer, what the weapon was and where it took place. Cluedo is one for older kids as like monopoly it can take some time to finish, and younger children may not like the themes associated with the game.
For teenagers and adults, Wingspan is a fantastic, engine building, game. You have to collect birds and to do this you need eggs and food. The easiest way to pick up the rules is to watch a YouTube video on how to play then you will be good to go
Get each family member to make a paper airplane then see whose flies the furthest. You could also appoint a ‘judge’ and award points or a small prize for the most creative design.
An alternative would be to make a boat out of recycled materials. On games night, you have a boat race across a swimming pool or down a small creek or stream.
If you have an extended family with a number of players, another game idea is to divide the family into small teams. See who can build the tallest tower using only dry spaghetti and marshmallows. You can also challenge each person to tear up a piece of US letter size paper (UK:A4) in a spiral and see who can create the longest unbroken piece of paper.
You can also combine all the creative challenge ideas for one big competitive creative evening.
This is a game for larger family groups – I would say a minimum of 8 people. You require a deck of cards and a spoon for each player less one. So if you have 8 people, you need 7 spoons. Remove some cards from the pack so that you have one set of 4 card for each player. Shuffle the cards. Deal four cards to each person. Place the spoons in a line along the middle of the table.
One person, the dealer/caller, will call out ‘DOWN’. Each person places a card face down on the table to their left. The caller calls out ‘PASS’ and everyone passes the face down card to the person to their left, who will do the same thing. The goal is to collect four of the same card. When that happens, you must reach for a spoon. When everyone sees someone go for a spoon, they must grab one; whoever is left without a spoon at the end gets one point. The winner, at the end of so many rounds, is the person with the least points.
Charades is a great game to play with the whole family. You can split off into teams, or play individually. Charades is all about trying to get your teammate to figure out what you are trying to tell them, without you telling them or saying a word at all. You act out whether it is a book, song, film etc, and then use your body to mime actions for the name.
So for example, if the film was Titanic, you might showcase the shape of a boat with your hands and the iconic Jack and Rose stance at the front of the ship. You can interpret it in your own way, but you want to make things as easy as you can for your teammates. The winners are the ones that have guessed right the most.
Similar to charades although this time you are drawing what it is without wiring any words. Pictionary can often be seen as easier. Again you will split up into teams, and you will want your teammates to figure out what it is you are trying to draw. Again if we use the film Titanic as an example, you might draw a ship and an iceberg. You might also then draw a sinking ship.
One of the classic options for a family games night has to be Jenga. This is a very much loved game that is very simple to understand but can be a lot of fun to play. Children from the age of around 7 upwards will enjoy the game. However, it is worth being mindful that it is harder for younger children to be as delicate with the Jenga pieces as necessary in the later stages of the game. This is a game that can go on for quite some time so you may find that it is one of the more strategic games that you play.
Make up a quiz night
Quiz nights are a lot of fun! You can even make up your own for your family games night. You could all create your own set of questions and then deliver them. The person with the most correct answers wins, or you could go into teams and do it that way. Quizzes can be general knowledge or about specific subjects, so you can really make this your own. They can also be pictures. Cut famous faces or brand logos from a magazine and get everyone to name them.
To get a good mix of questions, get each family member to host a round of 10 questions on a subject of their choice. That way, everyone can take part equally and no-one has to be the quiz master.
Spending time with your family is so important. Embracing family game night activities can bring you all closer together, enjoying time without technology and doing something a little different. I hope you have found plenty of inspiration for some of the best games ideas that the entire family will love.
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