5 Ways to Keep Family Game Night Fresh and Fun
When we were kids, we loved crowding around the kitchen table on Friday nights with a big bowl of popcorn and a stack of board games. Sure, there was always a little bickering among siblings, but first and foremost it was a fun way to spend quality time as a family.
For a moment it seemed like family game nights were destined to be a relic of a simpler, pre-digital age, but suddenly they’re cool again. Ticket to Ride is the new Where In the USA is Carmen Sandiego, and Settlers of Catan has usurped Risk, but families are still sitting down together at the end of the week for some old-fashioned, technology-free entertainment.
Looking to make family game night a weekly tradition at your house? Here are our best tips for making sure everyone, whether they win or lose, has a blast.
1. Be 100% present.
The first rule of any successful family game night is for everyone to be fully invested in the game. It’s no fun for everyone else if one person is scrolling social media or checking work emails in between turns. Put phones away, turn the TV off and give your family activity your undivided attention for the next hour or two.
2. Set clear ground rules.
Family game night is a great opportunity to teach young kids how to be a good sport about losing (and winning). Come up with some basic rules that everyone agrees to before you start the first game, and if it helps, post them somewhere nearby to refer to throughout the game. Good rules for game night might include things like no whining, no gloating, no cheating, how to determine who gets to go first and a system for who gets to choose the next game.
3. Make up new rules for classic games.
Breathe new life into games you’ve played a thousand times by adding your own twists. For example, set a rule that passing “go” in Monopoly also comes with a predetermined number of cheese balls to snack on until your next trip around the board. Or maybe instead of calling “uno” when you’ve only got one card left, you have to say “unicorns” or “umbrella.” If you slip up and say uno instead, then you’ve got to draw extra cards. Get creative!
4. Play outside.
Family game night doesn’t need to be limited to cards and board games. Break out that dusty bocce ball or badminton set and have a family tournament in the backyard. Or turn a family walk into a game by playing 20 Questions or I Spy as you explore your neighborhood.
5. Make it virtual.
Invite your long-distance family members to participate via Skype or Zoom. It’s actually easy to play classic games like Pictionary, Heads Up!, and charades via video chat (just hope the video doesn’t freeze while you’re doing something crazy!). To feel even more connected, order the same game-night snacks for your house and for theirs. Even if you can’t pass the popcorn bowl around the same physical table, you can still do it in spirit!