Ideas for a Fun Family Game Night
- Cheryl Gilbert Crosswalk Contributing Writer
- 2022 27 Apr
Is your family in an evening rut? Or do you have a free weekend night approaching that is a rarity for your crew? Perhaps you're simply tired of the default family activity being screen-based. Regardless of the reason for it, family game nights can be a great way to regroup and reconnect your household. There are literally thousands of games to choose from (over 1,000 new board games debut every year, according to Paste Magazine), not to mention card games, dice games, role-playing games, and more. There's undoubtedly something for everyone, but how do you choose? Read on for ten great family games that may not be a part of your regular rotation; you're sure to find something that suits your crew. Before we get to the game ideas, though, let's talk family game night Pro Tips!
1. Read the room.
You know your crew best, so use your knowledge to navigate the plethora of game options available. Does someone hate board games? Try one of the trending escape room-style games or something unusual and goofy like Throw Throw Burrito. Psalm 133:1 says, "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in harmony!" Game night is a great time to foster family unity and make everyone feel known and respected.
2. Plan for personalities.
Do you have a household member who isn't into game night? Let them pick the snacks or ask them to help another family member who may need assistance. Let everyone take turns picking a game if this will work well with your family dynamics. If someone doesn't want to play, consider letting them opt out of the game but ask them to stick around anyway. Ephesians 6:4 reminds parents not to provoke their children toward anger but instead to raise them up in the ways of the Lord; use family game night as an opportunity to model love and respect.
3. Age matters.
Some games are well-suited for younger kids, and some will only work with an older crowd. If your game night involves a range of ages, find a game that's simple enough for the littles but will also be engaging for the teens and adults in this room. Sometimes this means finding just the right game, but it can also happen by making the toddler the official dice-roller or piece-mover or pairing them up with an older teammate. This can be a great opportunity to practice servant leadership and encourage one another, as Paul admonishes in 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
4. Be flexible.
This is practically a parenting mantra because we all know what can happen with best-laid plans! Have a backup game and a backup for your backup. If you're introducing a new game, consider having an old favorite on standby in case it's a flop. If someone in your household is feeling crummy, it may be prudent to pivot to family movie night and save the games for another time. Remember that the game itself isn't the point; family togetherness is the goal here.
5. Snack Strategy.
Make your game night menu exciting, whether you're a Pinterest devotee who scratch bakes petit fours decorated to look like dice, or you grab your kids' favorite junk food that you don't usually buy. Special drinks can be fun, too, from sparkling juice to uniquely flavored sodas; there are lots of fun things out there to try.
6. Plan for peace.
Chances are you have at least one person in your family who is super competitive. Or maybe you'll see some usually dormant sibling rivalry rear its ugly head. Set up some ground rules at the beginning of the night. Plan potential tie-breakers, clarify rules, and just in case there's a scenario not covered in the rules, decide how you'll choose - will the family vote? Will the parent's judge? Contingency plans and clear expectations will set everyone up for success. Consider reading some of these verses to set the tone for game night: Luke 6:31, Col. 3:15, Romans 12:18.
Alright, pro tips delivered; now it's on to the games!
Best Cooperative Game: Code Names
This game combines cooperation and competition by splitting players into two teams. Each team selects a spymaster who gives one-word clues to help their team identify secret agents. While the manufacturer recommended age is 10+, younger kids can definitely join in the fun. Likewise, the recommended number of players is 2-8, but it's really not necessary to stick to the limit if you have a few more people. This game doesn't get wild and crazy but is still engaging. If you need any additional convincing, with nearly 25,000 reviews on Amazon, 88% rated Code Names five stars!
Runner Up: Flash Point
Players work together as a firefighting squad to rescue survivors and stop the flames that threaten to engulf a home. This game has excellent replay value with multiple levels of challenges and different sets of rules. Flash Point has a recommended age of 10+, likely because kids under eight will have a hard time with the strategic thinking required. However, since it's a cooperative game, younger kids can definitely play with assistance.
Best Large Group Game: Telestrations
The original version of this game allows up to 8 players, but the party version accommodates up to 12. Telestrations is like a cross between a game of telephone and Pictionary, and you can count on lots of laughter. Each player begins the game with a word and a dry-erase spiral notebook. Players pass the booklets around the group, alternating between drawing a picture and guessing the word. Anyone who can read can play this game, and no artistic skill is necessary. In fact, you'll get more laughs without the artistic talent!
Runner Up: Bubble Talk
While the box says this game accommodates up to 8 players, more can play. The gameplay is similar to Apples to Apples, but the group assigns silly and strange photo captions. The manufacturer recommended age is 8+, but anyone who can read can play the game. Unfortunately, Bubble Talk is getting harder to find. A similar and popular alternative is What Do You Meme: Family Edition; make sure you don't grab the original version to play with the kids because adult content is included.
Best for Families with Young Children: Chickenfoot
This dominoes game is easy to teach and learn and can be grasped by kids as young as preschool since the only skill needed is matching the dots. Chickenfoot can be played by large or small groups and is enjoyable for young and old. You can easily find instructions online, but the gist is players take turns matching dominoes from their hands to dominoes that have been played. Doubles are played perpendicular to other tiles, and three diagonally placed dominoes played on the double create the chickenfoot design. Play with any set of dominoes.
Runner Up: Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza
Fun and simple with a competitive edge, this card game is another crowd-pleaser suitable for all ages and any size group. The challenge of this game is saying the title words while playing cards that may or may not match the word you're saying. Kids that don't like competition or get overwhelmed in pressure situations may not enjoy this game.
Best for Families with Teens: Saboteur
With an 85% 5-star rating, you can bet this one will be a hit. Easy to learn and fun to play, this card game gives each player the role of either miner or saboteur - but no one knows the others' roles. Miners work to build tunnels toward gold, and saboteurs work to thwart their efforts while trying to keep identities hidden as long as possible. This game is for 3-10 players and only takes around half an hour to play. Good replay value on its own, but expansion sets are available also.
Runner Up: Anomia
Another card game with a twist. The word anomia means "inability to identify objects," and that's exactly how you'll feel in this fast-paced, had-it-on-the-tip-of-my-tongue game. Players flip cards until two have matching symbols, then it's a race to name an object in the category of your opponent's card. It sounds simple, but our brains don't work quite the same under pressure! You'll feel betrayed by your brain in this game for 3-6 players that'll leave everyone laughing. Playing a hand takes about half an hour, but you probably won't want to stop with just one.
Best Unique Game: The Game of Wolf
In this strategic trivia game for 4-10 people, players must decide if they want to run with a pack or be a lone wolf to answer five questions across a single subject. This choice determines the point value of the questions, which cover a wide range of topics. Best for ages 14+, this game takes 30-45 minutes to play.
Runner Up: Carcassone
Place tiles one at a time to build a medieval fortress. While this is not a cooperative game, it's made more interesting that your tile placement may also help your opponents. Tiles are selected at random, giving the game an element of chance, but players will need to employ planning and strategy to win. For 2-5 players ages 7+, the game takes around 35 minutes. While it is competitive, it's not fast-paced or high-pressure.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages gorodenkoff
Cheryl Gilbert is a loving wife, proud mom, cancer survivor, really loud laugher, sun-seeker, and - most important - Jesus follower, living in the Pacific Northwest. Cheryl has a degree in English, Writing & Rhetoric from Pepperdine University, and is a regular guest blogger at Hello Mornings. She has worked as a teacher, a personal trainer, a nutritionist, and a Youth & Children's Ministry assistant, all while remaining passionate about the written Word and using her gifts for God's glory. When she’s not writing, you can find Cheryl skiing with her husband, baking with her daughter, watching Star Wars & Marvel movies with her son, or exploring local parks and trails with her dog. You can learn more about Cheryl and her work on her website.