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17 Family Game Night Ideas To Bond With Your Kids

Written by Stephanie Cantu
Stephanie is the Founder of Happy Spots by Empowered Minds, an active meditation and mindfulness program for youth that works.
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Looking to plan an epic family game night that will bring the family together rather than induce moaning and groaning? All it takes is a little planning and you will have a new tradition that everyone will look forward to while building essential life skills.

Family game night offers more than just some fun time together. It can also help strengthen relationships and build problem-solving and reasoning skills, especially in kids, that are transferrable to academics.[1]

Unsure where to start? In this article, I’ll share with you 17 family game night ideas for picking the best and most enjoyable games for your family and some benefits. I’ll also share some hosting tips for more fun and exciting game nights.

Tips on Hosting a Fun Family Game Night

Here are six tips on how to host a fun family game night for a better experience with your family.

1. Take Turns, Everyone Should Get to Pick Regularly

If you often hear “not fair” from your crew, try pulling names from a bucket each week or however often you plan to play. Each family member should get a turn and once a member is picked to choose the game, their name gets pulled out of the bucket until everyone gets a chance to do it as well.

Consider having the person who will pick the game also pick the snacks so they can take ownership of the night. This is a great way to build confidence for each family member.


2. Select Games That Everyone in the Family Can Play

If a family member cannot play independently, give them an important role in organizing or leading the game night. They can also be a helper on someone else’s team.

Often, it is helpful to do some research and make a list of game options to choose from. If your game selections are low, ask family members to make their selections several days in advance so you have a chance to search out any new games. This will also increase buy-in when kids realize they have a new game to play.

Read on for ideas outside of traditional board games that are engaging and cost-effective.

3. Make a “No Phone/Television/Technology” Policy

Make a “no phone/television/technology” policy, parents included!

This is where you might get some pushback. As you have visions of family interactions dancing in your head, remember to consider how you will plan for distractions.

Family game nights should be a phone-and-television-free event. Make sure kids know you are in for this, too. You are working on reconnecting, and that means breaking some typical entertainment habits. All it takes is one tiny text exchange for all the kids to disengage. Guard this time, no exceptions.

Give everyone a 15-minute reminder before the game night starts so they can wrap up conversations or emails. Leave phones silenced and out of the room. Some families have a cell phone basket everyone can toss theirs in to visually show parents are making the same effort as kids.

They will thank you later when they have memories to look back on, something that texting cannot compete with.

4. Do Not Forget the Snacks!

Food makes everything better and can make your game night feel extra special. This can connect to another family bonding activity like cooking.

There’s no need to go overboard and stress yourself out, so consider bringing the family together to make a few special snacks.


The family member who picks the game can also pick the snack ideas and help make them if you want them to have the full “hosting” experience. This will help give them ownership of the night and build responsibility, planning, and leadership skills.

You can also try inviting another family member to handle the snacks so everyone has a role to play.

5. Turn On the Tunes

Just like food, music can improve game night buy-in. This could also be another opportunity to involve someone to be the DJ.

Since everyone has different music tastes this role should be rotated. Make sure everyone knows in advance that only positive comments are welcomed and that criticizing musical taste can hurt others’ feelings.

Let your family members also know that everyone will have a turn to be the DJ, even parents! You can even have everyone create playlists of their favorite songs to share.

6. Consider a Theme

Consider a theme for the month to help focus the attention on specific kinds of games. This also allows family members to try out different types of games they never thought they would like.

Our kids always thought that card games were boring and only for adults. But when they learned how to play certain games, cards are one of the most requested games, and they don’t require a lot of planning!


Below are some basic types of games you can consider building a theme around. Every family member can pick a game under a specific theme before moving on to the next.

17 Family Game Night Ideas

Here are 17 family game night ideas to bond with your kids.

1. Twister

    Credit: Polina Tankilevitch via Pexels.com

    Keep your hands and feet on the mat’s circles without having your body hit the floor. A fun and active twister game that keeps everyone engaged and even teens can have a great time playing!

    2. Go Fish

    go fish
      Go Fish is a fun card game suited for kids three and older. This game encourages younger kids to learn matching skills, memorization, and how to read numbers. If you have older siblings, encourage leadership by teaching littles how to play.

      3. Pictionary

        Credit: François Haffner, Public Domain

        Sharpen your artistic skills with a drawing game that will inspire imagination. Pictionary‘s objective is to guess what the object or item is from your opponent’s drawing.

        4. Clue

          This detective and mystery board game is for eight-year-old and older players. Clue Detective Game‘s objective is to solve a mystery by finding out who the mystery killer is, the murder weapon used, and which room where the crime occurred. It’s an oldie but goodie!

          5. Help Your Neighbor

          Help Your Neighbor is another fun family card game that’s perfect for kids ages four and up.

          6. Scrabble

            Credit: Wikipedia

            Earn points by placing letter pieces on the board to form different words. Scrabble will help your kids expand their vocabulary. Calling out nonsense words is sure to provide a good laugh!


            7. The Floor Is Lava

            This fun and active game will have everyone on their toes. Whenever someone enters the room and yells out “Floor is Lava!”, everyone has five seconds to get off the ground.

            8. Life

            life board game
              Credit: Randy Fath via Unsplash.com

              Life’s a classic board game that will take the whole family on a fun adventure through LIFE! This board game will offer your kids exciting choices that will challenge them and teach them strategy. Younger kids will enjoy filling their cars with family members.

              9. Dance Charades

              Get the whole family out of their shell with a fun game of charades—dancing style.

              10. Monopoly

                Credit: Maria Lin Kim via Unsplash.com

                Monopoly is another fun classic board game. Choose a fun token piece and travel around the board, collect money, and make deals on property. This fun game will teach your kiddos how to manage their money and other financial lessons.

                11. Balloon Tennis

                The entire family can play a simple DIY game in the living room or the yard. Assemble your racket by sticking a popsicle stick behind a paper plate, and try your best to keep the inflated balloon from touching the floor. This one is so.much.fun.

                12. Battleship

                17 Family Game Night Ideas To Bond With Your Kids
                  Credit: Amazon

                  Teach your kids strategy with this tabletop game Battleship. The game’s object is to sink your opponent’s ships by guessing where they placed them on the board. 

                  13. Slapjack

                  The objective of the game is to be the first player to slap the jack from the pile and win all of the cards from the deck. This multi-player game will get everyone’s adrenaline running and is perfect for playing with 5+ players.

                  14. Yahtzee

                    Credit: Wikipedia

                    This fun dice-rolling game Yahtzee will have your kids counting, multiplying, and calculating probability. The objective of the game is to score points and come up with various scoring combinations.


                    15. No Stress Chess

                    If you’re looking to teach your kids the fundamentals of chess, No Stress Chess is a good place to start. Each player chooses a card from their hand to show how their game pieces can be played on the board.

                    16. Uno

                      Credit: Yan Krukov via Pexels.com

                      Uno is a multi-player card game that can be enjoyed with the entire family. Each player is dealt with seven cards and strategies on how to use their cards following a color or number trend. The object of the game is to be left with no cards.

                      17. Qwirkle

                        Credit: Amazon

                        The objective of Qwirkle is to create lines based on colors and shapes on a flat surface. It’s a great game for younger kids to strategize.

                        Benefits of Having Family Game Nights

                        Arranging for a regular family game night has benefits that go beyond spending time together. While strengthening relationships and having fun together may be your primary focus, there are several noteworthy benefits to having regular family game nights.

                        1. Supports Mental Health

                        If you have ever wondered about how to get your family to practice mindfulness, this is a great way to do it!

                        Mindfulness is about giving all your attention to one thing. What better way to practice mindfulness than paying attention to family members?


                        According to research, some of the benefits of mindfulness include reduced rumination, stress reduction, boosted memory, better cognitive flexibility, better focus, and less emotional reactivity.[2]

                        2. Improves Academic and Problem-Solving Skills

                        Most games involve some level of strategy. Developing these skills can sometimes equate to improved school performance, academic outcomes, and confidence.[3]

                        If this is an area of focus, look for games that involve strategy or solving mysteries.

                        3. Improves Executive Functioning

                        Nope, we are not talking about prepping your child to be the first 10-year-old CEO. Executive functioning includes self-regulation skills and the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus, recall, and solve multiple-step problems.

                        Family game night is the perfect way to develop these essential life skills!

                        4. Teamwork/Improved Relationships

                        If you are looking to get your family members to work together, there are plenty of games that rely on teamwork, and this will also serve them well in other areas. Just spending this quality time together helps strengthen relationships.

                        5. Provides Leadership Opportunities

                        Offering family members the chance to consider games that everyone can participate in and plan the evening is a great way for them to develop leadership skills. This teaches them the basics of organizing events and leading other people without any pressure.

                        6. Offers an Outlet to Share Interests

                        Your kids likely have their own unique interests and preferences. Sharing a favorite game and teaching others how to play can help build confidence and relationships. Don’t forget to share your own, too!

                        7. Discover That Screen-Free Fun Does Exist

                        This is self-explanatory. Technology has a multitude of benefits, but too much of it can cause physical issues, such as eyestrain, and psychological problems, such as difficulty focusing.[4] Therefore, kids need to know how to have fun without it, too.

                        8. Challenges Everyone (Even Parents) to Be Fully Present and Engaged

                        This is laid out in the ground rules. Family game nights should be a time focused on having fun together. Resist the urge to multi-task.

                        Even if there is a pile of laundry sitting next to you or a sink full of dishes waiting to be done, modeling how to give your full attention to an activity will help your kids do the same.

                        If you are used to having to juggle multiple tasks, this will be a great exercise for you to slow your mind down and retrain your brain and body to focus on one activity only.

                        We are used to spreading our attention to multiple things at once, which is proven to not be good for our brain.[5] This is a great opportunity for everyone to focus on one thing while having fun.


                        Final Thoughts

                        There are so many ways to make family game nights feel extra special and tailored to your family’s interests. The kids do not need to know all the benefits, but they will appreciate feeling like they have an important role, even if they don’t admit it.

                        The secret to making family game nights something that everyone looks forward to is to show you are interested in it, too, and to take a few extra steps to make it feel special, like a party where everyone gets to be involved in planning and put their stamp on. Involving everyone in the planning process will increase interest and ownership.

                        What will you do to make your family game nights unforgettable?

                        Featured photo credit: National Cancer Institute via unsplash.com


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