Fun Family Game Night Ideas

This blog was featured on The Modern Parent, a segment of The Rhode Show. Click here to view this episode.

Are you searching for something interesting to do with your family that won’t break the bank?  Why not try a family game night. 

Fun, lots of laughs and spending quality time with your family are a few of main objectives of hosting this type of family event.  Over the last decade, the modern family has increasingly had to compete for their children’s attention and time with all sorts of technology devices, such as cell phones, iPads, computers and video systems.   

Playing games with your family and friends is a safe, cost effective way to bond with your children and   is an enjoyable activity for all ages.  Unlike other activities such as social media and watching the boob tube, that doesn’t promote communication with each other.  Further, during these difficult economic times, games nights can certainly be an affordable alternative for families to have the opportunity to communicate and enjoy one another’s company.
How do you get started with a family game night?

  • Commit to Spending Quality Time – First you need to make a family decision to put away all the cell phones, computers, TVs and any other distracting electronic devices and commit to this family time.  You may want to even go as far as writing up a family contract to devote a particular hour each week or once a month to dedicate to this event.  Whatever works best for the group?  Definitely make sure you have a buy in from the entire group so it will be successful.
  • Who – Decide as a family who is going to participate in the family game night?  Is it just going to be the immediate family or are you going to extend an invitation to the rest of your extended family members or possibly close friends?  This choice should be made by the group and everyone needs to agree.  Again whatever works best for the family?  It may be fun to invite other family or friends to the festivities.  Then you could possible rotate the game nights at each other’s house each week or month.  Whatever makes it more fun and exciting for the kids?  Keep them involved in the decision making process so they feel like they have a voice.
  • Mark your calendars – It’s very important to pick a date and mark it on your calendar!     Parents need to set an example for their kids and make sure they honor the day that is chosen for the game night.  Your game night will not be successful if the adults continually cancel due to other commitments.  Pick a day and stick to it.  Make it simple by considering choosing the first Friday of each month or every other Sunday afternoon.  
  • Pick a theme and a game – Allow your children to take turns picking a theme for game night.  It can include the theme for the night, what people wear, decorations, what healthy snacks are served and what game will be played.  This is a great opportunity for your kids to have some fun and use their creativity.

Why a Game Night?

  • Simply Fun – Family nights can create an awesome opportunity for families to laugh and have fun together.  What a great way to help create life long memories and good times for all!
  • Quality Family Time – There is nothing more important than spending quality time together as a family.  This can never be overstated.  It is certainly an integral part of bonding and building family relationships.
  • Creating Healthy Habits – Game nights can have many positive influences on all families.  It can start by serving a healthy snack during the night.  Get the kids involved in choosing their favorite healthy snacks each week.  Depending on their ages, the kids can research different fun healthy snacks to serve.  If the children are younger they may need some assistance in choosing a health alternative for the night.   Don’t forget that certain games, can be good source of physical exercise (depending on the game being played), promotes using your brain power and also it keeps the kids from simply sitting in front of the television for hours on end, which can be linked to many negative outcomes.
  • Positive Outcomes – All children can learn many important qualities from family game nights.  It’s a great opportunity to work as a team for a common goal – depending upon the games you are playing.  Each night allows for a chance for children to work on their communication skills, as well as good sportsmanship and the importance of following directions.  Along with trying and working on their strategic planning, dealing with healthy competition and social skills.  The positive influences keep coming.  It can also allow the kids to learn to take turns, play fairly without cheating and learn to win and lose with grace. Most importantly it just allows them to simply laugh and enjoy spending time with their family.
  • Low Cost Fun – In this difficult economy when many activities, like going out to the movies can be to expensive for many families, a family game night is an affordable fun alternative. Many Games are generally inexpensive, passed down from family member to family member, and can even be borrowed or swapped with other friends or neighbors.
  • What are some ideas for games?

    • Card Games – Card games are inexpensive games that can provide lots of laughs for all ages.  Some ideas maybe your typical old maid, crazy eights or war.  But you may want to expand your repertoire to include spades, uno, skip-bo or two of my family’s personal favorites which are spoons and pig.  These games are easy and can be adapted to suit any age.  
    • Board games – Certainly there are a variety of new and old favorites available at your local stores.  They can range from $5 to $10 up to the $30 price range.  Parents may want to forgo a night out to eat, to possibly purchase a new game each week or month depending on your budget.  Otherwise you can also consider swapping games with other friends or neighbors.  Don’t forget to take a look at your grandparent’s home to see if they have any old games tucked away for safe keeping for their grandchildren.  Explore all your opportunities.  It doesn’t need to be new or expensive to be fun!
    • Old Favorites – Don’t forget puzzles and simply old favorites such as Dominos, checkers or chess.  These games can promote open communication and hours of enjoyment for the entire family.

    The list of games can be endless, so be creative!  Don’t limit yourself. If you can’t find a game you enjoy them make up your own game.
    Laughter is undoubtedly the best medicine for all families.  So go out and get started on your fun- filled family adventure, by starting your very own family game night.  Gaming can only lead to several positive outcomes for your family, which include but are certainly not limited to expanding the family bond. Have fun!

      "  Kelli DiDomenico brings over 20 years of experience to her role at The Children's Workshop as Director of Parent and Community Relations.  She engages and welcomes families into the TCW family and to ensure that their experience with us is always top notch. Kelli earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Rhode Island College.  She was the Director and Owner of her own School Age Program and a Program Manager for Therapeutic child care before rejoining the TCW team in 2010.  She is also a very active member of the communities we serve.