7 Fun Family Game Night Ideas

Awesome ideas to arrange a fun family game night

family game night - family playing board games for kids on floor
You can have a fun family game night with just a few simple ideas. Erik Isakson/Getty Images

One of the joys of being a parent is getting to have fun with your kids. And in fact, research shows that when you have fun together, there are benefits for kids, too: Kids whose parents play with them and have fun with them regularly are more likely to grow up to be happy, be more empathetic toward others, and have a reduced risk of depression.

Arranging a family game night regularly can be an excellent way to not only have fun with kids but to step away from those screens.

(Not to knock family movie nights--those can be fun, too!--but it's all about balance, and since most of us get far too much screen time these days from phones, tablets, computers, and TVs, non-electronic activities like board games and running around outside playing outdoor games or even just kicking around a soccer ball give parents and kids the opportunity to really focus on each other, without a screen to distract them.) Here are some ideas for how to make your next family game night fabulously fun:

  1. Choose games that are not too difficult--or too easy--for kids.
    Your 5-year-old may want to play Candy Land the entire evening, but older kids and adults may want to be a bit more challenged. Playing a variety of games that are designed for both older kids and younger children, and taking into consideration what someone else may need and want, are excellent ways for kids to learn to take turns and to think about the needs of other people.
  1. Allow kids to be challenged--without getting frustrated or down on themselves.
    Little ones will want to be as good, if not better, than their older siblings or mom and dad. But since most board games for older kids will probably be tough for them to handle, they can pair up with an older sibling or a parent and form teams to tackle educational games, like Rush Hour and Pentago. It's a great way to strengthen sibling relationships and teach kids cooperation and teamwork.
  1. Let little ones win.
    Since older kids and adults will be able to beat younger kids easily at most games, be sure to allow younger children to feel a sense of mastery and accomplishment once in a while by letting them win. (This is also a good way for older kids to learn to take care of someone younger, and encourages them to see things from their younger sibling's point of view.)
  2. Teach kids to say, "Good game."
    This might sound like a minor thing, but it's an important way for kids to learn to develop good manners when they compete against others. Young children naturally want to win at all times, and may express anger or frustration when they lose. Telling someone else that they did a good job after a game--whether they lose or win--is an essential skill that kids will need throughout their lives.
  3. Choose snacks that are easy to eat--but healthy.
    Some perfect snacks for game night are baby carrots and celery sticks with hummus, string cheese and grapes with whole-wheat crackers, homemade popcorn (air-popped or popped on the stove--not the microwaveable kind, which is unhealthy). And since it's an evening snack, be sure to watch for hidden sources of caffeine, like chocolate, which can interfere with kids' sleep. As for drinks, steer clear of sugary or caffeinated drinks. Instead, make a special family game night beverage by adding some cut up fruit or berries to seltzer or to chilled fruit tea. Yum!
  1. Make some fun decorations for family game night.
    Make your family game night festive and extra special with some fun homemade party decorations such as hanging paper fans, colorful paper chains, or beautiful and bright paper starbursts.
  2. Take it outside! 
    Who says family game night has to happen indoors? If the weather is nice and the sun sets late, grab some balls, a Frisbee, or whatever else you want and head outside to play some fun outdoor games for kids.

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