Here’s an idea for some family fun. Does your family like to play games? Do you know other “gaming” families? Why not start a Game Night Club? I have been trying to start a Gourmet Club with some friends in my area where we would get together every other month to cook, gnosh, and have fun over fabulous food. It would be a great excuse to actually start making those recipes I pull out of my food “porn” magazines. But it got me thinking about a Game Night Club as well. It would save you money since you wouldn’t be going out, you can include the kids so no sitter needed, and you can use the games you already have in your closet. Well, put like that, what are you waiting for?
Here’s how it would work:
Find 2 or 3 other families to join and pick a consistent date to get together like the third Sunday of every month or the first Saturday of every quarter so that it is easier for people to keep their calendars clear. Consistency makes it easier to plan and creates anticipation.
Choose a host for the first Game Night. You can rotate houses going forward so you only have to clean your house every now and then. The host family provides drinks and a snack. Other families bring a snack to share, as well. Set up a kids game table and an adult game table, if you want, especially if you have big age gaps in the attendees where you need more age-appropriate games. You can also have several tables set up around the house with different games and adults and kids alike can travel from table to table as the games are completed. Try to make sure that no one is sitting out at any time. That leads to boredom which leads to unruliness which leads to a ruined evening. (You know I’m talking about the adults here, right?)
Get some prizes for the winners or inexpensive little trinkets for everyone to get in a festive mood. Candy bars, ribbons or medals, and small drink umbrellas seem to make everyone feel like a winner.
Finally, the host family gets to pick the games. Not everyone will like every game but that is part of the experience – trying new games or playing a game you never would have chosen yourself. When you host, it’s your choice. However, the guests do get some veto power. Anyone can ask to stop a game, but at least one or two others have to agree that the game is lame and then you can move on. Over time you’ll start to recognize the types of games that work well for the personalities and preferences of the group.
Most importantly, have a good time.
Stay tuned, on Friday, we are going to announce a Family Game Night Giveaway. It will be the perfect prize to get your Family Game Night Club started.
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To make your Family Game Night extra special, you need to add some great food. Really, that rule applies to anything but there are some special considerations for choosing the best Game Night food offerings. Are you eating dinner while playing or just looking for some snacks? Are you going to take breaks during game play to eat or gnosh while playing? If you are eating while playing, make sure your food offerings are easy to eat with your hands and are non-greasy. The last thing you want is to get grease stains all over the cards or have your favorite game smell like buffalo sauce for the next 12 years. If you are going to take a break between games to eat, then anything goes.
Here are some suggestions for spicing up your Game Night with the perfect food pairings.
Keep it Simple
If Family Game Night is on Friday after a long work week and you are just looking to unwind, keep it low maintenance by ordering in pizza, making chocolate chip cookie bars, or setting up an ice cream sundae bar. (Read my post on how to set up an awe-inspiring ice cream sundae bar.) Indulge in your favorite munchies like popcorn, Chex Mix, or movie theater style candy boxes. Grab some of those gourmet popcorn toppings to literally spice up your snacks.
If I am out and about on Game Night day I like to stop by my favorite Mexican restaurant and get some guacamole and chips and salsa to go. Nothing says Fiesta! like chips and salsa.
If you are inviting friends over, keep it simple by having everyone bring either a dessert or snack to share.
A Little Extra Effort
If you are feeling more inspired, try out some of those appetizer recipes you keep marking in food magazines and then never making. Game Night is the perfect excuse. Here are some recipes I’m dying to try:
Barbara Beery always offers some great kid-inspired and easy-to-make recipes. I’m dying to try these Popcorn Cupcakes for some baking fun with my kids. Check out her blog for other kid-friendly recipes.
Guy Fieri’s Ham & Swiss Pretzels look awesome and could count as dinner.
Rachel Ray’s Spicy Pigs in Blankets with Chimichurri Dip.
Finally, Giada’s Shrimp and Beef Skewers with Soy, Scallion Butter looked so delish.
Do you have a killer appetizer recipe that you always make when you are invited to a party where you need to bring a dish? It’s easy, everyone raves about it and asks for the recipe but you only get to make it once a year because NO ONE EVER INVITES YOU ANYWHERE! (Hint, hint people!) Well, Game Night is the perfect excuse to make it just for yourself. Here’s my “Go To” appetizer recipe that people always rave about.
Don’t Forget the Drinks
For the adults, have some beer in the fridge, make a pitcher of margaritas, or try out that new drink recipe you’ve been oogling. (See Rachel Ray’s site for some great drink recipes.) Don’t leave the kids out, though. Make non-alcoholic versions of the new drink recipes for the kids. Or, let them have a special drink they don’t normally get. My kids rarely get juice boxes or soda so Game Night is special to them because they can have these high-calorie drinks. Or, make homemade milk shakes. Always a kid pleaser.
What is your favorite recipe for Family Game Night? Please leave us a comment and share.
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Is your Family Game Night feeling a little stale? The kids aren’t that excited about it anymore? Or, do you have a hard time convincing the family to even have a Game Night? Here are 5 ideas to inject a little more fun and creativity into your family’s special evening. (By the way, to help spice up your Family Game Night, we’re offering a 20% discount on all family games at www.ChocolateCakeClub.com. Sale ends January 31, 2011. Grab some today and be ready to play next weekend!) (more…)
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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.
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.
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.
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
- Card games like Go Fish or Crazy 8’s with the Little Hands Deluxe Card Holder Game Set
- Take the Cake
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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My kids were positively gloom and doom this morning when they had to go back to school. (Why does school start so early? Why do I even have to go to school? Ninjas don’t need to learn math. Why don’t you ever buy me any decent pants?) Insert your kids’ favorite whining here.
Now I like a good wine, I mean whine, when it’s me doing the whining. I certainly don’t want to condone the kids’ whiny behavior, but I was thinking of doing something special for the kids this evening to “celebrate” or “ease the pain” of going back to school after the Holiday Break. My plan? Chocolate Fondue! What better way to create a Chocolate Cake Moment than with hot, gooey chocolate?
You can certainly surprise the kids with this treat after school today or maybe on Friday after school to celebrate them getting back into the swing of homework.
Kirchner’s Chocolate Fondue
1 lb. of your favorite milk chocolate bar (we like Ghirardellis)
4 oz. dark chocolate bar
3/4 cup heavy cream (you can use half and half for less calories)
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Break the chocolate bars into pieces and place in your fondue, hot pot, or double boiler. Keep on a low setting. (If you don’t have any of those, just use a regular pot on very low setting and make sure you keep stirring.) Add cream and stir constantly until chocolate is melted and smooth. (If you are melting this on a stove top, watch the heat. Don’t walk away or the chocolate will boil and be ruined.) Stir in the vanilla right before serving. Then dip away!
Dipping Suggestions (In order of our kids preference):
- Large marshmallows
- Sliced bananas
- Salted pretzel sticks
- Cubed pound cake
- Angel food cake
- Stem strawberries
- Hazelnut or almond biscotti (more for the adults)
Have fun! What do you do to ease the pain of going back to school for your kids?
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