It started off as something to bring the whole family together. With Mom and Dad at work, kids in school, practices, social clubs, and everything in between, it just began to feel as though family time was gone for good. In an effort to reclaim it, you created family game night. A dedicated night for everyone to clear their calendars and come together to spend time with one another, catch up on personal lives, and enjoy one another’s company.
While family game nights usually start off very well-intentioned, somehow, they can become a bit lackluster and boring over the course of time. Maybe they happen too frequently. Maybe some family members are overly competitive. Maybe the conversation isn’t something that appeals to teenagers. Whatever the case, if your family game night is suffering, the quality of your family time is suffering, and that needs attention ASAP.
Planning a family game night seems relatively simple, but if you’ve got kids that are more than five years apart in age, it can be a challenge to find activities that the little ones are capable of participating in, and the older ones are actually invested in. Keeping everyone’s attention and ensuring everyone is having fun can be nearly impossible. There are, however, a few ground rules to start with to make sure game night is a success:
- Device-free zone. Unless you are using your devices as part of the game, designate a device zone for everyone to use, so no one is tempted to check social media, work emails, or texts during family game time. This will help ensure everyone is in the moment and giving their focus and attention to what’s going on.
- Off-limits topics. Maybe there’s been a huge family discussion over getting a pet that has turned into some not-so-nice conversations. Maybe your liberal teenagers disagree with your conservative viewpoints. Regardless of what the hot button topic is for your family, it might be best to leave those topics off the table for a successful family game night. Set up a boundary that expressly states that during family game night, you all agree to leave those topics aside.
- Snacks. A game night isn’t a game night without game food. Think ahead and consider getting the kids involved in helping you create special snacks for the evening. Kids love to feel like they’re contributing something beneficial, and one way they can help is by creating a snack menu and helping with game night food. It will also amp them up about game night and give them something to look forward to; they’ll get to try out the food they made!
- Comfort. It’s understandable that a card game will have to be played at a table, but if it’s at all possible, try creating a game night that can be played in a space that is more inviting and comfortable than sitting around a table in hard-backed chairs. Especially when dealing with teenagers, ensuring they’re comfortable can mean they’ll open up more, and that means a more successful game night.
Once you’re ready to start preparing, we’ve got some great ideas to help you make your family game nights fun and memorable. We’ve got five ideas to help create a family game night like you’ve never experienced that will keep your kids coming back for more.
1. Healthy Competition.
There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. It can drive us to do our best and step out of our comfort zones. When planning a family fun night, make it a little competitive, but make sure winning the game is completely achievable by all family members, even the smallest. If kids feel defeated out of the gate, they won’t want to participate.
Look for games that can be won by chance instead of pure skill when dealing with younger children (i.e., the game is won by moving ahead on the game board by rolling dice, etc.). As kids get older and more capable of learning games with skill, introduce games that graduate with them.
To keep the competition healthy, create a prize for the winner, but allow that prize to be something that directly relates to the next family game night. For instance, if your family has one prized bean bag chair, determine that the person who wins gets to sit in that chair the entirety of the next game night. This may be incentive enough to keep kids and teens who aren’t really into it coming back for more.
2. Electronic Trivia Games
If your crew is old enough, consider doing an online trivia game. These games can be fast-paced and challenging and are usually guided by an online host. If you’re concerned you don’t have a good way to properly situate a device for this type of gaming, we’ve got you covered. Consider using a PUK multi-functional, multi-device holder to allow you to safely position the device so that everyone can see it. The PUK works with any kind of tablet or smartphone in any sized case, so no matter whose device you’re using, it will always fit.
Charging isn’t an issue either. The PUK allows you to charge a device while you’re using it, so you never have to worry about the battery running out at a crucial point in the game. The PUK is also the only device holder that allows you to use your device in both landscape and portrait mode. The non-skid rubber backing also ensures that your device isn’t going to get toppled over no matter how crazy game night gets.
As a little added bonus, the PUK is also a great drink coaster when not being used by a device. Simply flip it over, and you’ve got a great space to place a beverage. You can grab a three-pack of PUKs and give every family member a safe place to keep their drinks while you play games and enjoy your time.
3. Old Fashioned Fun
Sometimes it’s a great idea to get back to the basics and focus on traditional games that don’t require a lot of brainpower. Especially good for overworked moms and dads and stressed out students, games like charades can be fun and result in hours of laughter. Another great thing about games that don’t require pieces or boards is the ability you have to sit together comfortably.
If you’ve got a family media room or game room, consider outfitting it with a couple of comfortable bean bag chairs to share while you hang out together. An even better option is to consider convertible bean bag chairs that turn into beds. If family game night runs long or if you end up finishing it off with a movie, you can unzip the outer cover of a convertible bean bag chair to reveal a super comfortable mattress the entire family can plop down on and get more comfortable. Don’t be surprised if the family game night runs late because you’re busy chatting and laughing together.
4. Grab Bag Gaming
If you’re burned out on the same game of UNO, why not let every family member suggest a game and choose the one you’ll play by chance. You can even make a game out of selecting the game. Have every family member write down their favorite family game night game on a small slip of paper. Place the papers inside a bag. Next, roll some dice. Whoever has the highest roll gets to pick a slip of paper from the bag, and the game written on that paper is the game that will be played first.
Kids especially love this type of system because it allows them the opportunity to play games that are more kid-friendly. Kids get excited when their game is picked. If the game is new, consider letting your child explain the rules in their own words and by using their own examples. You can also add to your child’s enjoyment by asking them engaging questions about their game and having them describe to you what it means to win.
5. Fixing Bad Attitudes
No matter how carefully you plan or what you disallow in terms of devices and conversation at the table, there’s bound to be a bad attitude pop up from time to time. Whether or not family game night is ruined by these attitude issues is all in how you handle it.
When it comes to fixing attitudes during family game night, we find that redirecting is always key. Especially for smaller children, redirecting their focus on something like a mid-game snack or a small break can mean the difference in the continuation of a fun evening and catastrophe!
Family game night doesn’t have to be humdrum or something no one is really looking forward to doing. If your family game night has gone stale, try these methods to pour fresh life into it and make it something the entire family will be more apt to show up for. Follow a few simple ground rules to keep things lighthearted and enjoyable, and remember that the purpose of this is to bring your family closer together.