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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
If you have never played knockout before and want to know how it works check out the video below.
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!
Always try and start 2nd if you can. And if you are feeling competitive try
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.
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.
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
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.
If you want a traditional set of Bocce Balls,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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