How to Choose the Most Fun Game for Family Game Night

Looking for something fun to do this weekend with the family? How about hosting a good, old-fashioned Family Game Night? You can take turns with each member of your family picking their favorite game. Or invite friends and neighbors over for a casual, inexpensive, and very fun evening.

Whether you plan a big game event or just spontaneously pull some games out of the closet, Game Night is an easy way to have fun together. Depending on the games you play, the night could be challenging, educational, silly, relaxing, competitive and most importantly fun. It’s the perfect excuse to try out those games you got as gifts over the Holidays.

In a new series of posts, I’ll share some ideas on how to make family game night even more fun with a little planning and creativity. I’ll review some new games we’re selling or that we discovered at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair. I’ll be sure to share my family’s top picks for games in this series, as well.

Pick the Right Game.

To pick the right game for Family Game Night, you need to take a few things into consideration like the competitive level, playing time, age range of the players, and mood.

    Competitive Level
    How competitive are your friends and family? Does the adrenaline kick in when the competition is fierce? Do you have little ones (or big ones) who get mad when they lose? Do you like games where everyone wins? Deciding on how competitive the players are will help you pick the right game. There are some games where there still is a winner or loser, but it’s based purely on chance. A game like Gamewright’s Dog Dice where the winner is chosen based on the roll of the dice may be one where the youngest players will win often enough to avoid tears or meltdowns.

    Also, for safety reasons, if you have a hyper-competitive group you might want to steer clear of more physical games. I remember a not-too-distant Holiday where a teen cousin got thrown to the floor playing the card game Spoons. While she was part of instigating the “scrum” to grab the spoon, it still shouldn’t have happened. (Although it is a good family story and fun to bring up again and again.)

    Some good non-competitive games are The Ungame or conversation games like Family Dinner Box of Questions or Chat Pack for Kids.

    Game Time
    How much time do you have to play games? If you have little ones, do you only have an hour before bedtime? Do you want to play several games in one evening or really sink your teeth into one good strategy game? If you have guests over, you might want to set up several games on different tables and everyone can get up and switch periodically. If that is the case, don’t pick a game that feels more like a marathon that never ends. Pick one that ends in 20 – 30 minutes. Take a break, grab a snack, and move onto the next challenge. Read the game box to see the estimated game playing time. I still like to play Trivial Pursuit (because I’m good at it) but that can go on for hours and people get sick of me pulling random trivia out of my … head.

    beat the parents game
    Check out Beat the Parents or Cash Cab for a faster moving trivia-based game.

    Age Range of the Players
    If you have a mixed age range of players, you either need to find a very simple game that is fun for all or pick a game that can be modified for the littlest one at the table. For example, we recently had some friends over for dinner and I wanted to try a new game I bought at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair. It’s called 5 Second Rule. We had an 8-year-old, 10-year-old and 4 crazy adults playing. Although the game suggests ages 10-years-old and up, we were able to modify the game so the youngest could play and win, too. In the game you have 5 seconds to blurt out 3 possible answers to a question. The adults had to name 3, the 10 year old only had to name 2 and the youngest only had to name one answer to win that hand. This worked perfectly to keep it “fair.”

    Some games that we really like that are suitable for 3 or 4-year-olds, but won’t bore the heck out of the rest of the family are:

    • The Zoo I Drew
    • Birds, Bugs and Beans
    • Dog Dice
    • deluxe card holder set

    • Card games like Go Fish or Crazy 8′s with the Little Hands Deluxe Card Holder Game Set
    • Take the Cake

    Mood
    Finally, gauge the mood of the players. Is everyone tired? Sit on the couch and play a kid-friendly version of Scene It. All you need to do is yell at the TV. Are you in the mood to be active? Get everyone moving by bowling or playing Wipe Out on the Wii. Does everyone need a good laugh after a long week? Some of our favorite silly games are Flapdoodle and Snorta. (I hate recommending Snorta because the Out-of-the-Box Game people were so rude to me when I was starting my company, but we do really love to play the game. It’s also a fabulous drinking game, but you didn’t hear that from me.)

    Do you want your game to be educational, like Spanish Bingo or even Scrambled States of America? Our kids love Mexican Train Dominoes for the silly train sound effects but we secretly like it because it helped my daughter learn to count.

Check back for more posts on Family Game Night. What is your absolutely favorite family game?

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Tags: Family Fun Ideas · Family Game Night · Games

18 Comments - Leave a comment

  1. Sue, terrific article – great content. I’d love to link to it from our Games for Educators website, http://www.g4ed.com, since a lot parents also visit.

    Thank you for coming to our Fair and hope you come back next year.!

    Mary Couzin
    1/22/11

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mary Couzin, Mary Kay Russell , Mary Couzin, suekirchner, Mary Couzin and others. Mary Couzin said: RT @kubit2me: How do you choose the right game (and most fun) for family game night? Great post by @ChocCakeMoments http://bit.ly/e0J71v [...]

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    1/22/11

  3. Hi Mary,

    I would love the link back from the Game Educators site. Thanks! Sue

    Sue Kirchner
    1/23/11

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