The demands of work, school and extracurricular activities make it difficult to find time for the whole family to connect and have some fun together. One simple way to log quality time with your clan is a good old-fashioned family game night—a great way to unwind, share some laughs and make memories with the kids. Best of all, it’s significantly cheaper than taking the crew to dinner and a movie. Here are five tips to make sure the night is a success.
1. Lay out a variety of board games (including some classics from your childhood!)
Go through your games and select a few that all members of the family can play. Zingo, Sorry, Connect Four, Clue and Pictionary are great old-school choices. Apples to Apples, Would You Rather and Reverse Charades are some newer options that are fun for the whole family. The key is to make sure that there are games that can be played by family members of different ages. Pair up young children with a parent or older sibling to play as a team.
2. Add in a few “Minute To Win It” challenges.
Keep the laughs coming by interspersing board games with some one-minute challenges that only require a few household objects. It’s a Christmas tradition in our family to play “Minute To Win It” Olympics. We split the family into two teams and give each team a large bag of Hershey Kisses. The first team to unwrap every kiss is the winner. It’s surprisingly hard and it always elicits tons of laughs, especially as our youngest gobbles them up (we can’t help remembering that famous “I Love Lucy” episode set in a chocolate factory). After the challenge, we melt the kisses in a microwave-safe bowl for a fondue treat or use them for baking cookies the next day. Another favorite challenge is to give each team a box of tissues. Whichever team empties their box first, using only their feet (or chopsticks), is the winner.
3. Set the dinner table with game-themed decor.
Let the kids know this is a night of family fun with festive game-themed décor. Cover the table with a disposable table cover and draw some Tic-Tac-Toe boards and Hangman scaffolds. For Hangman, select words that have special meaning to your family like a favorite restaurant, sports team or vacation spot. You can also incorporate pieces from board games into the table decor. Other fun and easy décor ideas include labeling food with Scrabble tiles, displaying game boards and boxes, and taping playing cards to the table cloth.
4. Serve an easy dinner that keeps you out of the kitchen.
The goal of family game night is to enjoy time together, so don’t spend it in the kitchen. Ordering a pizza is one easy option, but another fun meal that will knock kids’ socks off is “walking tacos,” which you can eat on the run out of a chip bag. Simply prepare your go-to taco recipe, and lay out your family’s favorite toppings and some individual size Frito bags. Before opening the Frito bags, break up the chips. Open the bag and add taco meat and toppings. Enjoy! Best of all, you’re not tied to sitting at a table and there are no dishes to wash at the end of the night.
5. End the night with a game-friendly dessert.
What better way to cap off a night of family fun than with a sweet treat? Domino brownies are always a hit and can be made using your favorite boxed mix and a tube of frosting. To save time, you can even decorate store-bought brownies. Another great option is “BeanBoozled.” It’s a super simple concept, and you can pick up the game in many candy shops or online. The game includes a spinner and a dish of jelly beans with 10 wild-and-wacky flavors and 10 look-alike tasty beans. The jelly bean pairs are identical so you cannot tell the good from the bad. Is it buttered popcorn or rotten egg? Is it tutti-frutti or stinky socks? Spin the wheel, pick a bean and find out. You may or may not get BeanBoozled!