Family movies on Netflix

Family Movies on Netflix

Are you looking for another family night idea?  Do you want something that everyone will enjoy but doesn’t cost a lot of money?  Well, a family movie night is just the thing. Here is a list of some of the best family movies on Netflix and animated movies kids and adults will enjoy.

Make a Date: Family Movie Night

If you have spent any time on my site you will realize I’m all about family.  I love spending time with my husband and kids having family game nights or family movie nights.  It is a way to spend quality time together and show each other how we love one another. Value is found in time spent together.

If you want some ideas about family game nights feel free to visit my posts The 15 Best Board Games For Family Night and Family Game Night Ideas.  But if you would rather watch a movie, keep reading.

There are dozens of family movies on Netflix.  It’s a great place to start for family movie night.  So find a day that works and gather up everyone. You could have a designated day of the week or maybe just circle a day on the calendar.  Or if you’re like us take an entire weekend and watch the whole list. It’s gonna be too cold outside to do anything that way so movies it is.

So here is my list of family movies on Netflix followed by animated movies kids and adults will enjoy…

Family Movies on Netflix: Non-Animated

Currently, there are several good Family Movies on Netflix.  Many of those are animated movies kids will love. Others are more action-packed for mom and dad.  But either way you kind find great family movies on Netflix that both kids and adults will love!

So let’s start off with a list of the best non-animated family movies on Netflix.  Here are a few of my favorites. And the ages I think they are appropriate for.

  1. National Treasure, Ages 9 and up
  2. The Indian in the Cupboard, Ages 5 and up
  3. Secretariat, Ages 7 and up
  4. Apollo 13, Ages 10 and up
  5. The Masked Saint, Ages 10 and up
  6. Beauty and the Beast, Ages 7 and up (Update: This one has now left Netflix so unfortunately, you can’t see it there anymore. But if you want to check it out on blu-ray/DVD you can get it here.)
  7. 101 Dalmatians, Ages 7 and up
  8. Peter Rabbit, Ages 5 and up
  9. Woody Woodpecker, Ages 7 and up
  10. Scooby Doo 2, Ages 7 and up

Of all the non-animated movies on this list, my top recommendation for families with kids of all ages is Peter Rabbit.  Peter Rabbit is great and a favorite of ours. It is witty and entertaining. This is one we have watched several times as a family.

If you have older kids, I’d highly recommend National Treasure.  It is one of my all time favorite movies. I’m not a History buff but I love the Historical references and the gripping nature of the movie.  It isn’t violent by any means but has plenty of action. I wouldn’t let really young kids watch it though as there is plenty of action packed, intense scenes.  That being said, it’s well worth watching for family movie night if your kids are a bit older. And if they aren’t I’d prescreen it on adult date night before putting it on your family movie night list.

So there you have it.  My top 10 picks for family movies on Netflix right now.

Kids Choice: Animated Movies Kids Love

Hotel Transylvania 3 Movie Trailer

So now let’s look at the list of animated movies kids and the whole family will love that are on Netflix right now.

  1. Incredibles 2
  2. Despicable Me 3
  3. Coco
  4. Smurf’s: The Lost Village
  5. Cars 3
  6. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
  7. Emoji Movie
  8. Hotel Transylvania 3
  9. Boss Baby
  10. Bolt
  11. The Star
  12. A Bee Movie
  13. Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs
  14. Lilo and Stitch
  15. An American Tail

There you have it.  There are plenty of animated movies kids will like or non-animated family movies on Netflix right now.    The hard part will be agreeing on which one to watch.

And it will be tough to pick sometimes.  But all these are very good movies. Recently when I was doing research for this post we watched Hotel Transylvania 3 as a family.  I didn’t know what to expect because we hadn’t seen any of the other Hotel Transylvania movies, but this one was great! It was funny and had a great plot so it entertained both my husband, my kids and myself.  

Now that you have the list of movies to pick from, you better get the snacks ready.  Let’s take a look at the best snacks for movie night.

Best Snacks for Movie Night

Best snacks for movie night

Who doesn’t like snacks on family movie night?  So while one person is picking and getting the family movies on Netflix ready, the others can be getting the snacks.  

We like to do a couple of different things when it comes to food and snacks for family movie night.  We will either do a meal or we will just do snacks. And sometimes both.

If you want to do a meal for family movie night, pizza works really well.  I will make homemade pizza or sometimes will just go out for pizza or make frozen ones.  Then we set them out, set up TV trays and start the family movies on Netflix. We’ve also done this with taco boxes.  You can do the meal with whatever you want, I just recommend you do something easy and towards finger foods.

Now, if you don’t want to do a full-on meal, or if you still want a snack while you watch family movies on Netflix, make popcorn.  This is one of the best snacks for movie night. Another one of the best snacks for movie night is Chex mix. You can either make homemade or buy it from the store.  And who doesn’t like candy and pop? But we don’t always do the latter. We do, however, generally make popcorn.

Popcorn Two Ways: Air Popped and Whirley Popped

We have two different ways we like doing popcorn.  One is with a Whirley pop and the other with the air popper.  

We love using a Whirley Pop because of the flavor it gives the popcorn and it delivers almost a theater-like quality.  You can use a butter oil, shortening or another high heat tolerant oil. We have fallen in love with using Grapeseed oil because it’s a healthier alternative to some of the others.  So even if you are trying to eat clean you can still enjoy this theater quality popcorn. It really is one of the best snacks for movie night. So if you don’t have a Whirley Pop, I’d highly recommend getting one and trying it out.

The second way we like to make popcorn is with an air popper.  These work really slick and uses no oil at all. The popcorn is popped entirely by hot air.  You do lose just a little of that theater feel with the popcorn but it still is delicious. And kids love watching the popcorn pop.

Regardless of which way you choose to make it, after its popped just put it in a bowl and pour some melted butter on top with a little salt.  So it just pop it, add a little butter and salt, and voila! One of the best snacks for movie night while watching all the family movies on Netflix.

Make Family Movie Night an Event

Make family movie night an event

One thing I really like to do is have fun with family night.  I don’t do this every time, but occasionally it is nice to change things up.  One way to do that is turn family movie night into an event like making a drive-in theater for your kids like Jadi did here on Homemaking Fun.

But if you don’t want to go for the full drive in effect you can just do the concession stand.  We have done that a few times and the kids really enjoy it. To make a family movie night concession stand just make or find some play money.  Give your kids a set amount of money to “buy” concessions with. Then set up a small table with your items.

Once they have their money and the “concession stand” is set up, all they have to do is visit and buy their goodies. Have a price for each item you are selling and make them give you money for the items.   Just like when you go to the movies.

We did this not too long ago when we had a family Valentine’s Day party.  I did chocolate covered strawberries, little chip bags, dill pickles, theater candy boxes, and some drinks to pick from.  They were given Mario bucks to buy their treats. Each item had a price and they had to spend their bucks to buy the goodies.  We did Mario bucks because we were having a family game night. But you could use anything really. Have fun with it and make it themed for a family movie night or family movies on Netflix.  

Make Tonight a Family Movie Night

So if you are contemplating having a family night go for it.  There are plenty of great family movies on Netflix. Whether you want animated movies kids of all ages can watch or something a little more mature, it’s out there.  

Give your kids and spouse the time they need and show them you care about them by devoting special time to just them.  And make sure you put your phones down during the movie. Nothing takes away from family movie night more than a nose in the phone.  Unfortunately, I’m speaking from experience on this one.

Let me know what your favorite family movies on Netflix are or what animated movies kids at your house recommend.  And what’s your family’s favorite snacks for movie night?


*This post contains affiliate links.  If you buy something through the link I will receive a small compensation at no additional charge to you which will help keep this site running. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Family Valentine's Day: Ideas for Starting a New Tradition

Family Valentine’s Day: Ideas for Starting New Traditions

Valentine’s Day is all about love.  Most people either don’t celebrate it or wait in long lines to buy flowers or go out to dinner.  But it can be more. It can be a teaching tool for our kids. Valentine’s Day can be used to show our family love, not just our spouses or boyfriends.  And if you are alone and don’t have a significant other, a family Valentine’s Day can keep meaning in the holiday. So how do you celebrate a family Valentine’s Day? Stay tuned and read on for a list of family Valentine’s Day ideas…

Valentine’s Day is more than just chocolate and roses

Box of Chocolates

How many of you get sucked into the materialism of Valentine’s Day?  Expensive flowers and chocolates. Jewelry. Romantic dinners at high-class restaurants.  

I have to admit these things are all nice but I have two questions if you are in a relationship whether married or dating.  Why do you wait only for Feb 14th every year? And what about those littles all that love created?

Now, I’m a huge proponent of date nights with your spouse or boyfriend.  Without that quality time together it’s hard to grow your relationship. But I will leave that for another post another day…

When I was little my parents would always get us a little gift for Valentine’s Day.  They never forgot they loved us and showed us that on a holiday designed for adults. Or is it?  Is Valentine’s Day just about adults? Or is it about love and showing those around us how much we love them?  

So what about starting some new Valentine’s day traditions.  Have a family Valentine’s Day. Here is how to plan a family Valentine’s Day and some Valentine’s Day ideas to get you going.

How to plan a family Valentine’s Day

How to plan a family Valentine's Day: Notebook and pen

If you want Valentine’s Day to be a different this year, by not being the status quo and celebrating the love you have for the whole family, start with these simple steps.

  1. Plan it out:  This can be done as a surprise or with the whole family.  Do what you think they would like best. If you are uncertain if they would rather play games or watch movies go ahead and ask.  But a surprise may be more romantic even if you are planning a family Valentine’s Day rather than just a night out with your spouse.
  2. Make it unique:  As you are putting your plans in motion you can still make it unique.  Set it apart from your other family nights some way.
  3. Prep your plan:  Once you have a plan get ready to implement it.  If you are having a special meal or restaurant night go buy groceries a day or two before your family Valentine’s Day.  If you are watching movies have them rounded up. Whatever the plan is, get it prepped.
  4. Go Time:  Now that you have a plan and you are prepped for it, it’s go time.  Put your plan in motion.
  5. Be flexible and Enjoy it:  Family Valentine’s Day is underway, so sit back and enjoy it.  Be flexible enough to tweak the plan. I mean, you’re a parent so you should know by now that flexibility is key to sanity.  If your kid really doesn’t want the dinner you made take a deep breath and make them a PB&J. Save this battle for another day. Move on with your plan.

Not sure what to plan for a romantically fun family Valentine’s Day? Keep reading for Valentine’s Day ideas…

Valentine’s Day Ideas for that special Family Valentine’s Day

Teddy bear with heart. Family Valentine's Day ideas
  1. Turn your home into a restaurant. Design menus you pass out to each member of the family and then cook what they “order”.  On your menu have drinks, appetizers, entrees, sides, and desserts. You could even design a kid’s menu for the little ones.  For instance, maybe you have steak as an entree option for your spouse so you could put steak bites down for the little ones.  This makes it so you don’t have to do too many different things, just cut the steaks into bites. Get creative.
  2. Get a romantic pizza dinner or take-out.  OK. Maybe not romantic, Lol, but there isn’t anything wrong with planning for the whole family.  If you want to be part of a special dinner and not have to cook it get pizza or Chinese. Whatever your family likes.  I am all about eating healthy but if you choose this option, feel free to splurge a bit. You can eat healthy tomorrow.
  3. Plan a family game night.  I love family game night and if you have spent much time on my blog you may already realize that.  So if game night is a weekly activity at your house maybe get creative with it to make it a little different and more special for family Valentine’s Day.  Have a tournament game night on the Wii. Play a new family game that you have never tried before. Maybe you could buy a new game as a family Valentine’s Day gift.  Or if you usually play board games try a video game or card game. Just have fun with it. And if you need ideas for board games, visit my page, “The Best Board Games for Family Night”.  Or if you want a variety of game ideas, visit my post, “Family Game Night Ideas”.
  4. Go out.  No, I don’t mean to go out for a big fancy dinner.  But you could go do something fun that you don’t normally do.  Go bowling or mini golfing. Pick a movie everyone would like to see and go to the movie theaters.  If your kids are old enough, go try out an escape room. You could take them to the beach, a concert, or go-karting.  Just get out and spend some quality time for family Valentine’s Day.
  5. Family Movie Night.  My next Valentine’s Day idea is to pick a movie to watch.  This might be another thing you find yourself doing regularly with your family.  If it is, change things up a bit. Turn your home into a movie theater. Buy drinks, candy, and make popcorn.  Set up a concession stand your kids can “buy” concessions from. Before dinner give them a Valentine’s Day card with play money in it.  Tell them they can use that later. Then after dinner set up the concession stand. Let them buy their snacks. You could even set your living room or family room up with blankets and pillows so they can get comfy for the movie.  And if you want to go all out you can get them cute Valentine’s pj’s to change into prior to the movie. One of my favorite movies, The Greatest Showman, is good for the whole family.
  6. Get each other gifts.  This may seem a bit cliche and the opposite of what this post is about.  But this is a creative way to have fun with your family for your family Valentine’s Day.  Draw names from a hat and have everyone make or buy a gift. Set a spending limit. Say $5 to buy the perfect gift for that person.  Or have everyone make something. This way the kids can feel independent. They could make a card or a special picture for mom.  A candy bouquet for dad. Coupons for special favors for their siblings like cleaning their bedroom. This doesn’t have to be the traditional box of chocolates but it could be.  Get creative and include your kids in on the gift giving.
  7. Go for a walk or bike ride.  Not the most romantic of Valentine’s Day ideas but would make a great way to spend a family Valentine’s Day.  You could even include fido on this one. This is one where you would be doing your family a favor with a healthy activity.  If it seems too mundane for a family Valentine’s Day celebration jazz it up a bit. Go to a trail you don’t necessarily walk, bike, or hike and try it out.  Print off an outdoor scavenger hunt, grab a paper bag and have your kids find the items. If there are leaves or things that won’t hurt the environment put it in the bag for a craft later. Bringing me to my next Valentine’s Day idea…
  8. Have a craft night.  One thing kids love are crafts.  Get down and dirty and make slime with them, a papercraft, or do some artwork.  Slime is all the rage right now so most kids will love this activity, even tweens.  If you have never made slime it’s simple. Pour out a small bottle of glue into a bowl, add food coloring if desired, then add about a ½ tsp of baking soda.  After all that you add 1 tsp of contact solution or borax (I’ve always used contact solution containing boric acid). If the glue hasn’t turned to slime slowly add a little more but be careful.  If you add too much your slime will turn hard and won’t be fun to play with. And if you don’t want to buy everything separate just get a slime-making kit. Whatever the craft, have fun and let the mess happen.
  9. Stage a Photo Shoot.  Capture the memories of your family’s Valentine’s Day by taking family and candid pictures.  I love taking pics of my family. And my kids like taking pictures and videos. So break out the cameras and update your photo library or shoot a family video.  You will have the memories to last a lifetime and can have a hoot doing it too. Look nice for portraits but grab hats and costumes for the candids. It doesn’t have to be a serious endeavor.  Make it fun.
  10. Have a low key night…without electronics.  My last Valentine’s day idea for a family Valentine’s Day is to just have a low key night.  But make it a quality one. Don’t sit on the couch with your nose buried in your phone. Engage in meaningful conversation with your kids and spouse.  Unwind together. Cuddle and hold your kids. They need your touch and your presence. And guess what…so does your spouse.

But what about my spouse or boyfriend?

Valentine's Day couple

If you have stuck with me thus far you might be thinking, “but what about my spouse/boyfriend?  I thought Valentine’s Day was all about us.” And you’re correct to an extent. Valentine’s day is about the romance between two lovers.  And you need to keep that. It’s a vital aspect to a healthy family as I mentioned earlier.

That being said, who wants to battle the crowds at a restaurant on February 14th just to say you went on a date for Valentine’s Day?  I sure don’t. You should be going on dates much more often than every Valentine’s Day. I have to admit, my husband and I generally wait for a date a few days after the 14th or go before if we are going to celebrate it.

So I am not saying you can’t celebrate Valentine’s day and you are a horrible person if you do.  I have made candy bouquet’s and given my husband other gifts to show my affection. We have gone out to dinner, but we don’t do it just cause we have to.  We do it because we want to and we make more days through the year Valentine’s day by dating each other year round.

By all means, set aside some time for the two of you.  Get away, go on a date (but I’d recommend waiting for a few days or even a week to pass).  It is important.

But, you can also show your kids along with your husband that they matter by starting a new Valentine’s day tradition.  

The beginning of new Valentine’s Day traditions

Beginning new family Valentine's day traditions

A family Valentine’s Day would be the start of some new Valentine’s Day traditions.  Family time is very important to raising happy, healthy kids. Kids need to know they are valued by their parents and are worth our time.  One way to do that is showing them they are loved.

You can do some traditional dating (and I do recommend it) but you can also be unique this year.  I recommend you celebrate a family Valentine’s Day and romance your kids a bit too. You will be teaching them what a loving relationship is all about when they grow into adulthood.

What is your family Valentine’s Day plans or what Valentine’s Day traditions are you going to start this year? Please share them below and/or any Valentine’s Day ideas you have.


*This post contains affiliate links.  If you buy something through the link I will receive a small compensation at no additional charge to you which will help keep this site running. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Family Game Night Ideas: The Top 3 Board Games, Card Games, Video Games, Sports Games, and Outdoor Games

Family Game Night Ideas

Games have been around for a long time.  They are something most everyone enjoys in one way or another and a great way to bond with family and friends.  So if you are needing family game night ideas you have come to the right place.

The Importance of Family Game Night

Family game night ideas

Quality time is one of the most important things you can offer your kids and your family.  Not saying that other things aren’t important as we all have a different love language, but spending time with your kids will show you care about them more than your phone or anything else you may be doing.  And what better way than family game night.

In today’s world people spend hours on electronic devices.  Huddled behind a screen in their own world. How many of you sit with the TV on while playing on your phone, with your spouse and/or kids sitting 2 feet away?  And you never look at them, little lone make conversation. How do you feel connected to a person you don’t interact with?

Family game night is one way to find that connection.  Electronics are off (unless you are playing video games together) and the fun is on. So get out your list of family game night ideas and get started.

And if you find yourself in a slump, not knowing what game to play, or wanting a new game to try, take a look at the rest of this post.  I will be giving your family game night ideas by sharing my top 3 board games, card games, video games, sports games, and outdoor games.

The Top 3 Board Games on My List of Family Game Night Ideas


Splendor is my 1st pick for my list of family game night ideas, at least if we are talking board games.  If you read my post about Splendor or my list of 15 of the best board games for family night you may already know that.  But my whole family likes this one. Splendor is just the right mix of strategy and chance. The post I mentioned a second ago describes the gameplay and my thoughts a little more in depth if you want to know more about it.

Another great part about Splendor is it has an expansion pack as well that you can purchase separately.  It is called Splendor: Cities of Splendor Expansion Pack. You must have the original Splendor game which is why I mention it here rather than on its own.  The expansion will give you an additional 4 variations to play.

I received the Expansion Pack for Christmas and we tried all four of them.  My favorite was either The Orient or Trading Posts.

Parent’s Tip:  

Start with the original Splendor and get good at it.  Then you can move to the Expansion pack. Kids as young as 4 or 5 can begin learning how to play but be prepared to offer them suggestions.  My son likes to just take cards and doesn’t necessarily know how to strategize yet. Yours may need help but they will catch on quick.

Winner’s Tip:  

Go for nobles. Be flexible.  Pick out a couple nobles with similar color schemes and go for those if the cards show up. But if your first plan begins to fail, look for an alternative.  The best strategy is the flexible one in Splendor.

Monopoly Gamer

The second on my list of the best family game night ideas is Monopoly Gamer.  Monopoly Gamer is a new family favorite at our house. We have played this one probably 2 dozen times in the last month if not more.  But I tell you what, if you can’t stand to lose, avoid this game. One time we played I won big and the next I finished with maybe 50 points.  One of the most fun and yet most frustrating parts of Monopoly Gamer.

When we ask the kids what they want to play 90% of the time they pipe up and say, “Monopoly Gamer”.  It is way less complicated than regular Monopoly so younger kids can play but even adults can enjoy it.  

Parent’s Tip:

If your kids are like mine they will figure out which characters are better than the others.  And they will latch onto them, weighing the tables in their favor every game and potentially causing fights.  Find creative ways to pick characters if everyone wants the same one. I sometimes put the character cards under the table and have each kid pick a number.  The number they pick is the character they are. This has worked well to avert fights.

Winner’s Tip:  

Be Mario, be Mario, be Mario.  Oh, did I mention, be Mario.


For my family game night ideas list, Yahtzee rounds out my top 3 board games.  It’s a classic that many adults probably played as kids, but it won’t feel like a dinosaur to this new generation.  My own kids love Yahtzee. Once again you can strategize but there is mainly chance at play here. You can’t control the roll of the dice.  

This may go without saying but Yahtzee is played by rolling 5 dice at a time.  After your first roll you can select which dice you want to reroll and which to keep.  You get 3 rolls total per turn. After your third roll you must put a number somewhere on the sheet you have.  Play passes to the next person. Once everyone has filled the entire column on the sheet you total everything up.  Highest score wins.

Yahtzee is one of my husband’s favorites and quickly became a favorite of mine as well.  It’s easy to play and understand.

Parent’s Tip:  

Any age kid can start learning how to play Yahtzee, but for young kids be prepared to help them out a bit.  Be willing to offer advice but let them make the decisions and learn from it.

Winner’s Tip:

Go for the upper section bonus.  It has done me well and can help make up for some zeros in the bottom.

Board game runner-ups: King of Tokyo, Ticket to Ride

The Top 3 Card Games on My List of Family Game Night Ideas

Exploding Kittens

To start my list of the top 3 card games for family game night ideas is Exploding Kittens.  I have to admit, I had seen this one on the shelves and the title turned me off. I thought, “that sounds like a morbid game, why would I want to play something with the theme of exploding cats.”  Then for Christmas my aunt got it for my family. So of course we tried it. I was pleasantly surprised as it was really fun.

The gameplay revolves around laying cards down if you choose and doing what they say, then drawing from the draw pile.  You don’t want to draw the exploding kitten cards. If you do you are out. So you can strategize the best moves from your hand but there is a big element of chance because you don’t know when you will draw the exploding kitten cards.  Now there is a twist. You start with one diffuse card and that will keep you alive if you draw an exploding kitten and you can place the exploding kitten card back in the deck wherever you want. Strategy comes into play here but it can backfire quickly, and I’ve seen that happen, to my husband.

He didn’t put the exploding kitten back on top but stacked it down to get my son out.  I honestly thought he was attempting to get me out so I skipped my turn to draw. This pushed the exploding kitten back so he ended up drawing it and it put him out of the game.  Backfire!

This is a highly recommended game as kids can play it because, despite trying to play strategies, there is such an element of chance that they still can win.

Parent’s Tip:

Young kids may need a little help as they learn the game. If they can’t read they would need even more help because you do have to read what’s on the cards at least until you can recognize them.  But anyone can play this game.

Winner’s Tip:

Do as the instructions say and save up your cards at the beginning.  Play to draw from others when their cards dwindle if you know they still may be holding a diffuse card.  The more diffuse cards you can get the better your odds of winning are. And be careful when you try and stack the deck with an exploding kitten.


Raise your hand if you have ever played Canasta or heard of it.  I don’t see it as a widely popular, well known game, especially nowadays.  But it is one of my favorites and one that should be on the list of family game night ideas.  

I was taught how to play Canasta by my grandma as a child.  She loved card games and every time we went to visit we would play cards.  Whether we played Canasta, Pitch, Bridge, or something else it was always fun.  But Canasta was one of the best and we still play it today.

My dad lives about 8 hours from us and every time we get together we start a game of Canasta.  We play 4 player with my daughter and I and my husband. We just recently started teaching my son.  I wouldn’t recommend this one for 4 or 5-year-olds but older kids can enjoy this along with adults.

Canasta is a 2 to 4 player game that uses 2 decks of cards.  The point is to lay down on the table cards that match, like 3 Kings.  Then you keep adding to that pile of Kings. When you have 7 of them you have a Canasta which is required to go out.  Points are then counted and the first to 5000 points wins. This is a very basic overview of the gameplay but gives you an idea.

Parent’s Tip:

Don’t let your kids partner up unless they are quite a bit older.  This may make it easier to help your kids and prevent unfairness in the teams.  It also may prevent fights. Also, think about getting a tray like the one pictured below.  Mine just recently broke but it makes gameplay so much nicer, especially for kids trying to reach the deck.

Winner’s Tip:

As the discard pile builds, you want it.  It will hopefully build your piles on the table and will make it more difficult for your opponents to discard without playing into your hand.  However, be careful if the other team is close to going out or you could get caught with a lot of points. And if you seem stuck and can only seem to feed the other team, freeze the pile.


The third card game on the list of my family game night ideas is Pitch.  This was another game I learned as a child from my grandma. When I was young my great grandma was in a nursing home.  We would go to visit her but we didn’t just sit on her bedside and talk. She would be wheeled down to the commons area where there were tables.  It was there we would sit and play Pitch for a few hours. While talking and having fun. I didn’t mind nursing homes because they held fond memories of our card games with her.  

I haven’t forgotten all the fun we had playing Pitch with her and at other family gatherings.  Now I have begun teaching my kids how to play Pitch. This game is one that isn’t for young kids though.  My now 7-year-old is still trying to learn and understand the gameplay. And it really isn’t so much the play as the bidding. But that doesn’t make Pitch any less fun.

For those that have never played Pitch, it can be played with up to 6 players.  We always play 10 point Pitch as there are a few other versions out there. My favorite version of 10 point Pitch is 5 player Pitch.

Pitch is played by players bidding on their hand and then trying to take tricks. Once all tricks have been taken, points for that hand are counted up. If a player has taken enough points to match their bid then they get to count those points. If not, the team is set. The first team to reach the required number of points wins.

Parent’s Tip:

Once again, because of the bidding process, this game is a little complicated for young kids.  I would say around 7-8-year-olds could begin learning how to play with adult help.

Winner’s Tip:

Bid 10 on an Ace-Duece.  At least that’s what grandma always told me.  I’m not always brave enough for that but I’ve seen it done.  That being said, bid on long suits because it will be difficult to lose the 3.  But you should still have a big one or two (face cards). If you have what you think is a good hand, don’t be afraid to try it.  You will learn quickly what works and what doesn’t.

Card game runner-ups: Gas Out, Pinochle

The Top 3 Video Games on My List of Family Game Night Ideas


The top of my list for video game family game night ideas is Minecraft.  This is a widely popular game that has been made in many variations. We have an Xbox One and that is what we have Minecraft for.  I never thought I would like it as much as I do. But this was another of those games that pleasantly surprised me. As a family, we have spent many hours creating different worlds.  

Minecraft is a game based on surviving and building with blocks.  Everything from stone to wool is a cube. There are enemies in the form of zombies, spiders, Endermen, and more.  My kids like to play in survival mode a lot where the play is just as it sounds. You try and stay alive. My husband and I like creative mode better.

This isn’t a super fast paced game.  It affords a lot of creativity. We like to build different buildings, make giant waterfall or lava falls, build tree houses or underground houses.  The sky is the limit in creative mode. It can be addictive. My kids love playing it a lot. It is a fun game to play for any age.  And awesome to see the worlds you can build as a family.

If you would like to get it for your family check out the picture above for the Xbox One version. Here are the links for other gaming systems if you don’t have an Xbox One: PS4, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo WiiU.

Parent’s Tip:

Kids of any age can play this game.  When my youngest was 4 he asked to play Minecraft while my oldest was at school. So I would get on and he and I would just create worlds for hours.  Now I don’t condone just sitting all day with a preschooler playing video games, but there were times we had a lot of fun doing so. And we still love playing and creating.

Winner’s Tip:

Taken from my oldest, if you decide to play in survival mode build a house in a tree.  This will help keep you away from enemies and you will survive the first night. Then you can keep gathering and building after that.


One of the best Wii family game nights, or any video game night for that matter, is the classic game of MarioKart.  I love MarioKart. I have since I was a kid. My brother had almost all the Nintendo systems so I grew up on the original ones.  I loved them. The battle modes and races, you can’t beat it. So it should come as no surprise that it’s on my list of famiy game night ideas.

Once we got a Nintendo Wii and began having Wii family game nights, I was able to introduce my kids to the game I grew up playing all those years ago.  We spent hours playing it and having a blast.

Then a few years ago my kids got Nintendo DS systems equipped with MarioKart 7 like the ones pictured below.  The fun continued and the now can play it on the go. The other cool part about their DS’s is that they can link together and race each other.

We like to have tournaments or just spend time racing and battling each other.  The newer versions of MarioKart are just as fun as the originals. They add new elements while keeping the true feel of the game.  So this is a must have on your family game night ideas list when you want to have a great Wii family game night (or game night on any Nintendo system you may have).

If you would like to purchase MarioKart visit the following links depending on the gaming system you have, WiiU, 3DS, DS, Switch.  The 2DS will run both the 3DS (MarioKart 7) and the DS (MarioKart DS) versions. And if you need the latest system check out the Nintendo Switch.

Parent’s Tip:

Young children may be able to grasp and play battle mode with a little help.  Also, race together with your kids. If you pass the track and they don’t you can still move to the next.

Winner’s Tip:

The power-ups are better when you are in the back of the pack.  This doesn’t mean you should aim to be back there but just watch yourself if you are leading.  And sometimes you can avert a red shell by hopping but not always.

Wii Sports Resort

Last but not least on my list of family game night ideas for video games is Wii Sports Resort. If you want to have a Wii family game night, it should include this one.  It is another really fun game and also will have your kids active. This one is also great for the littles.

Wii Sports Resort is comprised of 12 mini-games with multiple variations of each.  Take a look at the video below if you would like to hear a great review on Wii Sports Resort and get a better idea of some of the mini-games.

Our favorite is the swordplay jousting.  It can be a rigorous activity trying to knock off your opponent.  When we play this one you can find us frantically wielding our Wii remotes trying to stay on the platform.  It’s hilarious. However, pretty much all the games within Wii Sports Resort are good.

The one thing to be aware of if you are purchasing Wii Sports Resort is the need for the Wii motion plus sensor.  If you have one of the original consoles and controllers you will need to buy the motion plus adapters with the game.  However, newer Wii remotes were made with the sensors in them, in which case you would only need the game. So please make sure you know what you have for Wii remotes.

If you have an old controller you can purchase the motion plus sensors here.  Or just upgrade to new controllers like this.

Parent’s Tip:

Even young kids, I’d say as young as 2 or 3, could play Wii Sports Resort.  Mind you they may not win, but can still have a lot of fun with it. Swordplay that I mentioned above is one they could do pretty easily as it requires little more than waving the Wii remote.  But this isn’t a game for just little kids as it has many built-in challenges for older kids and adults alike.

Winner’s Tip:

This is a tough one due to all the games.  But I will give you a tip on our favorite, Swordplay Jousting.  Be calculated. It’s tempting to just wave the remote around frantically.  This works sometimes, but not always. If your opponent does this, try and make precise movements to swipe high or low on them.  And guard yourself.

Video game runner-ups: Wii Family Game Night, Wii Sports

The Top 3 Sports Games on My List of Family Game Night Ideas


Family game night ideas - bowling

Bowling may seem like an oddity for family game night ideas but it truly should make your list.  Now this one does require a little more money and planning as you can’t just play it at home, but let’s be honest. It’s worth the extra effort.  

I have to admit, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed bowling until this past fall.  When my husband and I met as teenagers we used to go bowling quite often. It’s something we both loved.  Then adulthood set in. We had jobs and then our kids came. And the responsibilities list. So we quit going and doing things like this as much.  Until this past fall. My youngest joined a bowling league for kids. So after not bowling in about 10 years, we went as a family so he could practice.  

Now it’s something both my kids ask to go do on occasion and I like to oblige them as much as I can because deep down I enjoy it as much as they do.  I may not be very good. But it’s fun just the same. It’s a great way to get out of the house, away from all the reminders of what we “should” be doing and go do something fun as a family.  So if you haven’t bowled lately find the nearest bowling alley and go give it a shot.

This one is good for all ages.  Young kids can use the ramps that alley’s have to roll the ball down and there are bumpers to keep the balls out of the gutters.  So other than an adult needing to help lift the ball up, kids of all ages can enjoy this one as well. It’s a great one for the list of family game night ideas.

bowling ball knocking down pins

Parent’s Tip:  

Teach your kids only if they want to be taught.  If you are a bowler yourself don’t expect your kids to want to just sit and listen to everything you say.  Some want to learn by doing it themselves and figuring it out. Offer to teach them if they want to learn. Otherwise just go to have fun and encourage them to enjoy the time even if the gutter seems to be their friend.

Winner’s Tip:

Wish I could tell you how to get a strike every time. If I could I’d be in leagues bowling all the time myself.  The best tip I can give here is if you throw a straight ball aim for the second arrow from the middle with your thumb.  To the right if your right handed and left if your left handed.

Knockout (basketball)

Second on my list of the top 3 family game night ideas for sports games is knockout.  This is a great way to get out and get active. Just the other day we had a rare warm winter day and what did they do?  Broke out the basketballs and played some knockout. It goes fast enough that you can play when time is limited but is very competitive and fun.  Now today my son is home because of running a fever and what did he ask to do. Go play Knockout. But it’s 20 degrees and windy so that’s a big no for me today.  But on nice days its a great way to spend time as a family.

If you have never played knockout before and want to know how it works check out the video below.

How to Play Knockout

Parent’s tip:

Having a portable basketball hoop that is adjustable is nice so kids of all ages can have a chance to play.  For young kids up to about age 7 or 8 (depending on their size) I would recommend this hoop. Once your kids are a little older (above 7 or 8) I would get this hoop. The difference between these are the height adjustments.

And play to your kids’ ages.  The older they are the more competitive you can be. And don’t forget the basketballs!

Winner’s tip:

Always try and start 2nd if you can.  And if you are feeling competitive try throwing the ball hard, as your opponent shoots, trying to hit their ball.  If it connects you will probably get them running 10 feet or more in the opposite direction. Play dirty, as the video above describes.


The third game on my list of family game night ideas for sports games is Soccer.  My oldest absolutely loves to play soccer. So since that love began, we as a family have begun playing more of it.  

We like to go into the backyard and set up a pop-up goal we have like this one.  But don’t worry if you don’t have your own net. Just pick a couple fence posts, cones, water bottles, or other objects to be your goal posts.  Then you can use your backyard or go to the park and play a quick game.

This is a great way to burn off extra energy and, if you have a child into soccer, get touches on the ball.  It’s a fun activity for everyone. Just split the family into two teams and play away. We are talking street soccer here, not professional though.

Be sure and get a soccer ball if you don’t have one already (check out the link above).  Even if you don’t make soccer part of your family game night ideas list your kids will still love messing around with the ball.

Family game night ideas. Soccer

Parent’s Tip

Split the teams up as fairly as possible.  The most athletic parent with the least athletic child and vice versa.  This makes the game more fun and competitive. And if your children are small you can just have fun shooting the ball rather than worrying about playing a full-on game.  Either way, you will have a great time.

Winner’s Tip

Play defense, you will tire less and probably can make a shot across the small playing field you will be using.  No really, do your best and get around your opponents but the main purpose to this one is to have fun.

Sports Games Runner-ups: Horse (Basketball), Around the World

The Top 3 Outdoor Games on My List of Family Game Night Ideas

Bocce Ball

The 2nd pick on my family game night ideas list of outdoor games is Bocce Ball.  We were introduced to this game years ago when we were at a family gathering on my husband’s side at the lake (this was before we had kids even) and really liked the game.  Fast forward several years. We were given a Bocce Ball set for Christmas like the one pictured above. Now we enjoy playing it as a family!  

If you have never heard of Bocce Ball or don’t know how to play check out the video below to see how to play Bocce Ball.

How to Play Bocce Ball

If you want a traditional set of Bocce Balls, take a look at these.  My family has a non-traditional set like this (the set pictured above) and I really like them because we can split up into 4 teams if we want.  But there isn’t a wrong way to go (unless you want to play professionally). Either set would provide tons of family fun.

Parent’s tip:  

Any age can play this but be careful with the balls if your kids are young.  They are slightly heavy and you don’t want them dropped on toes or anything. Also don’t be afraid to play as teams if your kids are young.

Winner’s tip:  

Play defensively or offensively.  Do your best to get closest to the jack (little white ball) but if your opponents are closest, by all means, knock them out of the way.

Ladder Ball

Finally, Ladder ball is last on my list for family game night ideas.  At least for outdoor games. This rounds out my top 3 because of its simplicity, ability to elicit competition, and just plain fun.  Not too long ago we visited my dad and the weather there was gorgeous, especially since it was heading into winter. He had a ladder ball set so we spent countless hours just having fun in the backyard.  

Ladder ball consists of two structures that resemble the rungs on a ladder.  They are placed apart and facing each other. You split into two teams and each team has a set of 3 bolas.  Bolas are 2 golf balls attached by rope. You then take turns throwing at the ladder structure across from you trying to wrap your bolas around the rungs.  Each rung is worth points. The first team to reach a certain number of points wins.

The game play is simple enough that even young kids could learn how to play, especially with a little help from adults.  But “kids” of all ages will enjoy this one.

Click on the picture above if you would like to check out a Ladder Ball set for your family.

Parent’s tip:  

Make sure if you have really young kids that this is only played when you are around to make sure they don’t wrap the balls around their neck.   And feel free to set some of your own rules. This game can bring some flexibility to make it more friendly for young kids or more challenging if you have older kids and teens.

Winner’s tip:  

Play offensively and defensively.  If your opponent is barely hanging on to a rung try and knock it off.  But also go for the points yourself.


The third outdoor game on my list of family game night ideas is Horseshoes.  Horseshoes is a game all ages can enjoy. Whether you make little family tournaments or just partner up, it’s a great family game.

This is also one of those time-honored classics most people are probably familiar with.  But if you aren’t the gameplay is simple. There are 2 stakes and 4 horseshoes. The stakes are placed in the ground 40 ft apart.  If you can’t do a full 40 feet go the distance you can. Players then stand by one stake and take turns throwing their horseshoes at the opposite stake.  Hoping to get the horseshoe around the stake. Points are scored by getting the stake within the center area of the horseshoe.

You can purchase a set of your own or if you are lucky enough to have access to horseshoe pits somewhere locally use those. We are members of a local organization that has pits and go there camping, target shooting, and fishing. When we are there we also enjoy getting the horseshoes out and playing a couple rounds.

Parent’s Tip

This game is fun for all ages.  Just be careful if using the set above or a similar set with very young kids as the horseshoes are cast iron and will hurt more if dropped on a foot or worse thrown at someone.  If you are concerned about safety with a standard set, check out the set below that is made of rubber. And have fun!

Winner’s Tip

Lot’s of luck and pray hard!  Ok, all kidding aside, find your rhythm and the throw that feels best for you.  There isn’t a sure fire way to win other than practice and getting used to your perfect throw.

Outdoor games runner-ups: Croquet, Lawn Darts

My Favorite Family Game

Splendor layout

This one is honestly a difficult choice cause I love all the games I’ve mentioned above, or I wouldn’t have recommended them.  On that note though, my all-time favorite at this point is Splendor and the Splendor:Cities of Splendor Expansion pack. It is such a fun game and keeps you on your toes.  Each game is different because the cards don’t fall the same way twice. This keeps the strategies fresh each time.

But that being said, depending on what I want to do or my family wants to play on a given day will determine what we choose.  We enjoy all the different types of games there are. So don’t get stuck on one game and burnout. Explore all the different family game night ideas and share below what your favorite game is.


*This post contains affiliate links.  If you buy something through the link I will receive a small compensation at no additional charge to you which will help keep this site running. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Best Board Game - Game of Life

The 15 Best Board Games For Family Night

I have to admit, since I was little one of my absolute favorite things to do is play games.  Think about it, what kid doesn’t like a good game? I have fond memories of family game nights as a kid and now I have begun the same tradition with my own kids.  Some of the best board games I played as a kid still remain my favorites, along with a few that are new to the scene.

So I have put together my favorites, some new and some old, to play with the family.  Although Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and other such board games are great, let’s be real and admit most adults play them for their children’s sake.  These games are ones that adults and kids alike will love. Games that engage you in strategic play to keep mom and dad entertained but simple enough the kids can enjoy it.

With that, here are 15 of the best board games for family night…

1. Splendor

Splendor is one of my absolute favorite games!  This is one of the best board games for families because there is an element of strategy involved but there is also a large amount of chance.  You can plot and plan your moves, but if the cards don’t turn up right, your strategy won’t work out. This keeps it fairer for kids playing as they may just be learning the art of strategizing so it evens the playing field a bit.  If you want to know my thoughts and a little more detail on the game play please read my post about Splendor. And if you are interested in Splendor check it out here.

2. Monopoly Gamer

Monopoly Gamer is next on my list of the best board games for family night.  My kids learned how to play it about a year ago when their cousins got it for Christmas. Fast forward a year and my 7 year old was asking for it.  His grandmother got it for him so we began playing it the week following Christmas. It quickly became a new favorite of mine and the whole family.

The game play is very different than classic monopoly but still has the same feel of Monopoly, if that makes any sense. Lol!   But the twist on the game using the Mario characters and the Mario video game ideas of collecting coins and fighting bosses makes it unique and very fun. The only downfalls I have found are sometimes you lose so bad you wish you could declare bankruptcy and I wish it supported more than 4 players.  Other than that, this is a must have for a family game collection. If you would like to add it to your game library take a look here.

3.  Pictionary

Pictionary has long been one of my favorite games to play.  When I mentioned the family game nights I had as a kid, well, this was one of the games we often played.  My dad and I would team up against my mom and brother.  Although, looking back, it probably wasn’t the most fair set up as my dad and I were the more artistically inclined (at least in a drawing sense) and we had a keen sense of knowing what the other was drawing. Boy was it a good time, though. Pictionary remains one of the best board games out there.

So now as an adult I still have a love of the game. On New Year’s Eve we were getting over a virus going around our family so we kept a low profile and just had my mom over for the evening. My 10 year old voted to play Pictionary.  So we did. She and I were a team against my husband, my mom and my son. It was like deja vu as my daughter and I connected just as my dad and I did all those years ago.

This is a very fun fast paced game. You don’t have to be a master artist to have a good time at this one.  It is a bit difficult for younger children to play but there are ways around that. Once when we played just as a family I became the all time drawer while my husband, daughter and son played against each other. This evened the playing field a little since my youngest isn’t quite capable of drawing well enough to make it fair.  Pictionary is a great family game.

If you want to get your hands on the vintage 1990s version my family was playing check here. However, if you want the most updated version check out this version of Pictionary. Just a disclaimer, I have never played the most recent version of this game. Only the vintage 1990s version. If you get the new version feel free to share what you think of it!

4.  King of Tokyo

King of Tokyo is another awesome board game.  It is on my list of best board games because once again it can offer some strategic play but there is a huge element of chance.  I mean, who can predict the roll of dice. I know I can’t unless I cheat which I don’t condone. Imagine King of the Hill meets Yahtzee and you have King of Tokyo.  If you would like to know a little more about King of Tokyo take a look here. If you would like to get your hands on King of Tokyo go here.

5.  Yahtzee

This may go without saying but Yahtzee is another of our favorite family games.  For another game that has been around for quite awhile it never loses its appeal.  By rolling 5 dice and figuring out the best way to score the points, all while taking the chance of rolling 5 of the same number, you have a winning game.  Kids of almost any age can begin learning how to play Yahtzee and with adult help decide the best way they want to score points. And what adult doesn’t like a game of chance and exhilaration if you get to yell: “Yahtzee!” If you would like to get Yahtzee go here.

6.  Scattergories

One of the best board games ever made: Scattergories.  This game is great for so many different reasons. The game play can be as short or as long as you  want. It comes with several different lists so you could play one list or all of them. The answers may be funny or serious, sky’s the limit with this one!  

For those that don’t know, this is a word game. You are given a list of categories, a lettered dice is rolled, and you have a limited time to write something down for each category starting with the letter that was rolled.  This was my other favorite board game from my childhood.

I remember playing this around the kitchen table a few times, and having a few arguments over the legitimacy of a word. Oh the fond memories… That being said, this one is a really fun family game but for really young kids would be difficult.  So this one is a great game for parents and older kids who can read well and reason.

If you would like to have your own Scattergories game take a look here. Or if you really want to feel nostalgic you can get one of these vintage versions of Scattergories as well. This was the version from my childhood.

7.  Monopoly and Monopoly Jr.

Monopoly and Monopoly Jr are next on the list.  Yes, I combined these because really they could be interchanged.  I love Monopoly Jr because it enabled my kids to play Monopoly at a pretty young age.  They began playing Monopoly Jr below the age of 5 and really enjoyed it. To this day they still like to play the Jr version of Monopoly.  

But in recent years, now that they are a bit older, we broke out the full version of Monopoly and began teaching it to them. Some of the strategic moves such as making trades, auctioning properties, and gaining monopolies is still a bit difficult for my kids, especially my youngest.  That being said, we haven’t played the full version a ton of times. Once we play it a few more times they will catch onto the finer points of the game. So whether you have young kids or older ones, Monopoly and Monopoly Jr are must have family games.

8.  Risk

Risk is another game from my childhood.  It has a nostalgic quality to it and I hadn’t played it for years until just recently.  It was at that moment I remembered that I truly liked it and missed playing it. Risk was one of those games I grew up watching my dad and brother play, being told I wasn’t quite old enough for it.  Once I was a bit older, old enough to strategize a bit, I began playing with them. Now that I’m grown with my own family, Risk remains one that I enjoy. It has a definite quality of strategy and luck of the dice, making it one worth playing.  With the element of chance that is involved and a little help from adults this is one kids and adults could both enjoy.

If you want to give risk a go you can check out the vintage 1950s version here. Something about the little blocks brings back a flood of memories for me! On the other hand the new version has army figures and a few variations. You can take a look at it here.

9.  Sorry

Sorry is another game that packs a lot of memories.  Sitting around the table with my grandma and brother playing Sorry.  One of those games that just puts a smile on my face thinking about all the times I played it with family.  Moving around the board, knocking others off, trying to get “home”. This is another classic that everyone should have.  

Once again, if you would like the vintage version of the game check this out. If you would rather have the most recent version go here.

10. Sequence

Sequence is another on my best board games list because it combines card games and a board game.  I have yet to introduce my own family to it but it was a favorite growing up. Another my grandma loved that we spent many a night playing when we would go visit.  Sequence is played by playing a card and putting a chip on the corresponding place on the game board. The goal is to get 5 in a row in 2 different spots. It is simple enough for kids to learn but does possess a strategic element that makes it fun for all ages. If you want to have your own Sequence game to try take a look here.

11.  Codenames Disney

Codenames Disney is one I don’t personally own.  There, I said it. But, I was introduced to it through my brother and absolutely loved it.  We had spent the evening with my brother and sister in law and following dinner went back to their place and played Codenames Disney.  It was a blast. I would love to play this with my family. I think it would make a great addition to any family’s game night collection. You don’t have to know or have seen all the movies, just come up with a creative way to describe the pictures.  This one is definitely one of the best board games around due to the gameplay and nostalgic feel it brings with the movies on the cards. You can get it here.

12.  Mexican Train Dominoes

Mexican Train Dominoes is another great family game.  We began playing this one last Christmas after it was given to us and really enjoy it.  It is very easy to understand how it works and anyone can play and enjoy it despite their age.  Just beware, sore losers may not enjoy this one when you get stuck with 100+ points in one round.  Lol! Spoken from getting stuck bad and the game not going as you’d like. But it doesn’t make it any less fun. Just one that is left to chance. You can get a set of Mexican Train Dominoes here.

13. Clue

Who doesn’t love a good Whodunit or mystery? I know I do.  If you do then Clue is a must have and among the best board games of all time.  I loved moving from room to room to figure out who killed Mr. Boddy. Now my daughter has taken up the magnifying glass and gets a kick out of trying to solve the mystery.  It is a great family game as there is plenty of room for multiple players and adults and kids alike can get into the action of trying to figure out the solution.

With all the different versions out there these are the 2 I would recommend. Either this retro version. Or this more updated version that keeps the nostalgic qualities of the classic game.

14. Ticket to Ride

The first time I played Ticket to Ride I didn’t realize how much fun I would have.  It is a very unique game where you gather different colored train cards to connect a route across the United States.  You are attempting to connect routes that are in your hand. The person who scores the most points through connecting their trains and routes at the end of the game wins.  It’s simple enough for even younger children such as 5-7 years olds to start grasping, but challenging enough for adults to enjoy. So this is one that I would highly recommend trying if you haven’t. You can get it here.

15.  Life (The vintage version)

The game of Life.  It’s a classic. This is one though that I will admit you want the vintage version.  Or at least a remake of it. The new one that was made in the last 5-10 years just isn’t the same.  But if you can find the version made in the late 1980s I highly recommend it. It is a game of moving through different things that can happen in life including getting a job, having kids, and encountering good and bad things in life.  The person with the most money wins. Again, kids can grasp the gameplay and it shows them decision making in a game setting. At the same time it isn’t so “kiddish” that adults can’t enjoy it.

If you can’t find this one in your local flea market or your parents basement take a look at this vintage version. Or you could even try this new “retro” version too!

So there you have it…The best board games for family night. Happy gaming!


This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item through the link I will receive a small compensation.

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

Mexican Train Dominoes case with dominoes and trains in front

Mexican Train Dominoes: An Enjoyable Family Game!

So recently we had a late spring snowstorm.  It was crazy! I have to say that I am ready for spring.  However, with the late snow came a lovely family weekend. Normally our weekends consist of running between soccer games, church, and softball practices.  So the slow, stay at home time we had as a family was rather nice. To top the weekend off we played a fun game I was recently introduced to: Mexican Train Dominoes.  

Growing up I knew what dominoes were but had never played them.  So when we were given a Mexican Train Domino set for Christmas we dove in and tried it out.  What we found was a rather fun game that the whole family enjoyed.

A Game of Chance

What are my thoughts about this game?  Well, it was a mix, because, I have to admit, I’m highly competitive.  So, when things start going awry I get a little testy. I know, it’s not one of my great points, but there you have it.  That being said, I do enjoy seeing my family win and do well. So back to the dominoes game. I say it was a mix because this is a game of chance.  You never know what dominoes you are going to draw or how the game will play out. Since it’s more of a game of chance than strategy it makes it difficult to plan a way to win.  You will either draw and get lucky or draw and end up in trouble. 

Game Play

Many already know the premise of dominoes, drawing and matching the number of dots, and this works no different.  There is 12 rounds of play. Each round starts with the double of that number.

Every player draws 15 dominoes and on their turn starts their “train” going towards them.  

They can play as many in their train on the first time they lay down as possible, after that, it’s one domino a turn unless a double is played.

If a player can’t play on an existing train then they can begin the Mexican train if there isn’t one going already.

Once a person plays all his dominoes, each player counts up the number they have left unplayed and that becomes their score that round.  After all 12 rounds you total all scores and the lowest score wins.

These are very simplified instructions but should give you an idea of how the game goes.

Mexican Train Dominoes is Definitely Worth the Time to Play It

During our last game of Mexican Dominoes I got a little over competitive.  I have to admit. But that didn’t change the fact that it was a lot of fun.  This was another game that was simple enough for my 6-year-old to play but challenging enough for the whole family to enjoy.  It does take some time so our actual game lasted for a couple of months of playing a round here and playing a round there. But it was well worth the time.  It was nice to just sit down and play a round or 2, pick it up, and then play later on until we finally finished all 12 rounds.

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So, would I recommend Mexican Train Dominoes as a family game?  Yes! I would definitely say it is worth it. Let me know if you try or have ever played Mexican Train Dominoes.  I’d love to know what you thought!

And if you want a couple other ides of fun family games check out my post about Splendor and King of Tokyo!


Game of Splendor set up on table

Splendor: A Great Family Game

One of my favorite things to do with my family is play games!  I talked a little bit about my love of games in my post about the King of Tokyo board game.  Today I wanted to share a little bit about the game Splendor. I absolutely love Splendor. Now I have to admit the first time I played it I liked it but didn’t have any lasting impressions of it.  That changed rather quickly though.

My daughter’s favorite game

So my tween daughter was talking about this game over the next several months.  She absolutely loved playing Splendor. Whenever she would get together with my brother’s family she would get to play it.  She would come home talking about Splendor. Fast forward a few months to November. When asking for Christmas ideas one of hers was the game Splendor.  I didn’t remember it that well by then so I was slightly skeptical and we also had to convince her dad it would be a good game to have. So…we borrowed it for a family game night.

Image of cards and chips in a players "hand" during the game of splendor

Family game night

The weekend we borrowed it in November we played it as a family.  It was a hit! It is a strategic game but there is also an element of chance involved.  And one thing I absolutely loved about it was that it is complex enough to not feel like a kiddie game but simple enough that my kindergartner could play without much help.  He caught on quickly and could make the decisions on what he wanted to do on his own. We could offer him advice as he was not as strategic as his sister or dad and I, but rarely did he take it.  So it was nice to be able to sit down and play a game that felt more mature as a family.

Game play

I don’t want the meat of this post to be about how to play Splendor but I want to give you a quick idea (with a few pictures) of what it’s about.  It is a game with cards and tokens. The tokens are gems and there are 6 different colors/gems. In the center play area there are cards turned up.  Each card has a picture of a gem at the top and the number and color combination of gems needed to buy it. There also might be a point value. When the game begins you go around selecting the gem tokens.  When you have enough to get a card you want you buy it with the gem tokens and take the card. You continue doing that until someone reaches 15 points. This is a very brief description of how it works. Suffice it to say it is really fun.

Image of cards purchased for a hand during game play.

Let the fun begin

So after we had our family game night and played it again the whole family fell love.  And guess what, it made our daughter’s Christmas list. Secretly her dad and I couldn’t wait for Christmas either so she could get it and we would have it to add to family game nights.  So as you may have already figured out she did receive it for Christmas. My husband was off of work the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day so we spent it as a family. This year we just hung out at home and watched movies, played games, and enjoyed our time together. Splendor got used well that week.  Almost daily you could find us at our kitchen table engaged in a battle of whose strategy would play out first.

I would highly recommend Splendor

This probably goes without saying but I would recommend Splendor for any family looking for a fun game to play together.  Even though it says ages 10+ it is simple enough for a kindergartner to play so it’s great for all ages. And even adults will enjoy it. So if you have never tried Splendor you should!  If you would like to try it I’ve included a link if you click on the picture below. 

Be sure and share with me what you think of it!


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King of Tokyo

King of Tokyo Board Game

How many of you like to play games?  I know I do.  For my “Me Time” today, I spent time with my family.  We played a game called King of Tokyo.  I realize that may not sound like doing something just for me as I suggest in my post “The Challenge” but I assure you it was.  You see, by nature, I am a very competitive person.  I like a good challenge.  Although sometimes I can get a bit too competitive.

Playing a good board game is as much for me as for my kids (who also like a good game).  It’s always been something I have enjoyed from the time I was little.  I remember having a weekly game night with my brother and my parents.  We played things like Pictionary and Scattergories.  I still love those games and miss those times with my brother and parents.  But now, I have the opportunity to pass those onto my kids.

On the other hand, my husband wasn’t raised playing games.  They just didn’t do it.  So it took him a bit to warm up to the idea of doing it on a regular basis.  But now, he loves a good game as much as the rest of us.  There are games that are his favorites and he would play any day over some others.  Yahtzee is his favorite: That little dice game where you get 3 rolls and score points accordingly.

Fast forward to about 6 months ago. My dad was visiting us from out of town.  My brother, who is an even bigger gamer than me, had a couple of new board games.  So he brought them over and we tried them.  One was a game called Splendor which I share about here.  The other, a game called King of Tokyo.

King of Tokyo is what we played this time.  Imagine a game that is Yahtzee meets King of the Hill.  It may sound weird but is actually fun and I have found even our 6-year-old can understand enough to play without much help other than reading the cards to him.  You can try and strategize in this game but there is also a huge element of chance.

King of Tokyo Game Play

I want to share a little bit about how King of Tokyo works so you aren’t sitting, scratching your head going “Huh? What is this game she is talking about.”  To play the game each player picks a monster.  You have a card that counts points and hearts for your monster.  Once you determine who starts the game you go around and roll the 6 black dice.

King of Tokyo Dice Roll
Dice roll during the game King of Tokyo

They contain numbers, claws, hearts, and lightning bolts.  The numbers can gain you points if you roll the right combination.  The claws will attack one or more of the other monsters (your opponents) causing them to lose hearts. And if you lose too many hearts, you’re out of the game.  The hearts do just what you would think.  They gain your hearts back if you have been attacked.  Finally, the lightning bolts earn you little green squares that you can use to buy power-up cards.

Play continues around the table with monsters entering and exiting Tokyo, attacking others, and trying to gain points without dying.  The last man standing or 1st one to 20 points is deemed the winner.

Our Families Game

My 6-year-old began the game.  He hit all three of us with some hearts removed and began gaining power-ups.  He loves to get the lightning bolts!  My husband went next followed by me.  On my first roll, I was set up to receive several points so I took them.  You see, as I mentioned above you can win by being the 1st to 20 points.  So my strategy began.

Next was my 10-year-old and play continued.  I finally was able to knock my husband out with a power-up card causing him to lose all his hearts (sorry dear).  Next, I caused my 10-year-old to enter Tokyo with only a few hearts.  Needless to say, she didn’t survive her brother’s next attack (I told you I was competitive, Lol!).

Okay so maybe I’m not the most loving, sacrificing mom when I’m in game mode.  It came down to my 6-year-old and me.  Several turns back and forth and I finally beat him (yes, it took a bit and he almost had me)  but I was able to get to 20 points.

My Final Thoughts

This game filled my cup as I was able to have fun with my family.  Of course, I won’t deny that winning helps.  But I love taking that time to be with them.  To hear my son say, “I’m gonna get you, mom!”  There is something sweet in those moments.  Something that when he is grown and has a family of his own I can always take with me.

Spending quality time with the people that matter most was the me time I wanted today. It was a little longer than 15 minutes but that’s okay.  So get out a good board game or give King of Tokyo a try and spend some time with your family.  If you do let me know what you played.  Or if you do something different be sure and let me know what you did for YOU today!



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