Unplug, grab some snacks, and join in the fun with this collection of awesome family game night ideas!
The number of families regularly gathering for family game nights is on the rise, and these days there are a heap of great family game choices, as well as a host of surprising benefits for your family.
“It’s not news that getting the family together regularly to share some fun is a good idea,” says psychologist Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker. “It’s also not news that it’s hard to fight the pull of the ever-present screens in kids’ lives and their ever-present need to be connected.”1 The real news is that a desire for stress relief and human interaction is exactly what is driving more and more people, particularly families, to intentionally schedule in some family time around a game table.
The popularity of “unplugged” games is surging, even among couples with no children. Would you believe that more than 3,000 new tabletop board games are introduced each year? According to Trend Source, “in 2016, the board game market was valued at about $3.2 billion; that number is expected to more than double by 2021, reaching upwards of $8.12 billion.”
Communities have rapidly responded to this enthusiasm, too.
Schools are hosting Family Game Nights, and board game cafes and restaurants are popping up in cities all over the world. At San Fransisco’s The Game Parlour, diners can choose from nearly 700 boxed games to play as they enjoy game-related foods such as a Mouse Trap cheesy sandwich or a Bananagrams dessert! So game night can even turn into a fun night out for the family!
Why is it such a good idea to play board games?
What makes family game night an especially great idea in our age of electronics? The effects of technology on our children and teens are of increasing concern for parents. Too much screen time can lead to a sense of isolation, lack of focus, and lower self-esteem.
A regular family game night can combat all of the above, adding to an already long list of benefits, including:
- family bonding
- reduction of stress
- refinement of social skills
- an increase in confidence
- practice in problem-solving
- improved communication skills
- enhanced vocabulary development
- encouragement in the use of imagination
- improvement in the brain’s ability to focus
- allowing for relaxation and temporary escape
- application of life skills and good sportsmanship
- reinforcement of reading, writing and computation skills
- adding to positive memories through shared experiences
- more laughter, which has emotional and physical benefits
- FUN for all
How to Get Started: Great Family Game Night Ideas
If you haven’t tried introducing a regular game night with your family, here are a few ideas that should help get everyone on board (pun intended!):
- Make it a special event, a kind of party! Entice everyone with snacks and drinks. You might even plan your menu around a theme or make game night a special dessert event! Older children can help with the planning, too.
- Have several games available, and come up with a fun way to choose which one to play. If making a choice is too difficult, number the games and roll a die!
- Schedule it so that everyone can attend, with a definite start time. If certain family members are resistant, avoid trying to get a weekly commitment. Aim for a one-night-only or a once-a-month commitment at first. Share fond memories of game nights from your own childhood, and ask your family to indulge you and just try it out. Chances are, everyone will have so much fun, they won’t mind making it a regular family event.
- If you have a child or teen who really does not want to participate, allow them to invite a friend to join in on the fun. It never hurts to invite friends or extended family to join you on game night for some added fun.
- Insist that phones and electronic devices be silenced and put in another room.
- Explore the thousands of different types of games out there! Classic board games, such as Monopoly and Scrabble, are still top-selling games, but there are many categories of games from which to choose: role-playing games, strategy games, card games, dice games, domino games…with awesome new games available every year! You can find our suggestions for great games linked below.
- With so many new games on the market each year, it’s helpful to have some guidance in which new games are the best, appropriate for all ages, and also FUN. This Board Game Family regularly publishes game reviews, using their own fun rating system.
Best Board Games for Family Game Night
Grab a board game and your favourite snacks and let the games begin! If you are looking for game suggestions, be sure to check out our collections – 25 Family Board Games Your Family Will Love and 15 Fun Family Card Games, or get your kids thinking with 11 Brain-Activating Word Games for Kids and 6 Brain Games and Logic Puzzles.
If your children are younger, see this great list of 15 Board Games for Preschoolers and Kindergarten.
Try An Active Family Game!
Think outside the box with games…you don’t have to stick to board games!
- Get the family up and moving with a game of Charades! Guaranteed to be memorable, we’ve made it super easy to play with our printable Charades cards sets. Choose from Cartoon Characters Charades Game or Family Movies Charades Cards, or one of our festive holiday fun sets – Easter Charades, Halloween Charades and Christmas Charades Game.
- This DIY Jenga Hack adds an extra active element to the popular game of Jenga.
- Or take family game night outdoors with a giant backyard game like giant Dominoes or Yard Yahtzee.
Family Travel Games
Travelling together as a family can provide a wonderful opportunity to enjoy some game time together. If you’re packing light, check out our list of family travel games or, if your are camping, these family camping games are awesome fun.
Source: 1. Hartwell-Walker, Marie. “Family Fun in a Box.” Psych Central, 8 Oct. 2018