20 Fun Family Game Night Ideas

February 07, 2024
Father and son dressed up in costumes

For many families, game night is a big tradition. It can be a great way to make memories in a manner that’s largely inexpensive, easy, and most importantly, fun. From board games to card games and more, there are many options when choosing what to play. Whether you’re looking to start your own game night or need a fresh idea for your regular meetup, here are 20 fun family game night ideas to help you out. You can also try some of these games during a family road trip or a sudden power outage.

Family board games

1. Taboo

In Taboo, it’s all about getting your team to guess a word without using the word itself to describe it. Start by selecting 2 teams and developing a wide range of words to pick from. The team with the most correct answers wins.

You can either buy the original card game or come up with your own set of words. This game can move fast, so make sure you have plenty of words to pull from.

2. Catan Junior

In this kid-friendly variation of Settlers of Catan, players control pirate troops intent on building new hideouts. Players will have to collect resources, such as wood and wool, in order to set sail and expand their network. Like its predecessor, Catan Junior is still a balancing act between luck and strategy, but it’s perfectly streamlined to be fun for players of all ages.

3. Catan

In Settlers of Catan, players compete to settle the island of Catan. This is done by using a combination of resources, including grain, wool, ore, brick and lumber, to build roads, settlements, and cities. The board setup changes every game, so no 2 games are the same. [1]

4. Bananagrams

This variation of the game Scrabble is a contest of quick thinking. In Bananagrams, every player uses a set of letter tiles to arrange their own word grid as quickly as possible. As people use up their tiles, players take additional letters from a pool until there are fewer tiles left than players. Once the pool has run dry, the first person to use up all of their tiles and yell, “Bananas!” wins.

5. Monopoly

In the game of Monopoly, players take turns trying to buy and develop land. When other players land on their properties, they must pay the owners. If players run low on money when they run into fines, taxes, or other misfortunes, they might have to mortgage their properties. The last player with remaining money wins. [2]

Card games

6. UNO

The classic card game UNO is simple to learn and easy to play with a big group. Players take turns placing cards in the center that match either the number or color of the cards already in the pile. Once the players are down to one card, they shout “UNO!” and the first player to get rid of all of their cards wins. [3]

7. Sequence

Both a board and card game, Sequence is a simple game to pick up and play. Each player gets 5 cards that correspond to cards on the game board. Two-eyed Jacks are wild, and one-eyed Jacks let players remove their opponent’s checker from the board. The first player to create 2 sets of 5 connected checkers on the board wins. [4]

8. Spoons

Timeless card games, such as Spoons, are a great choice for everyone in the family. Set up the game by placing 1 fewer spoon than the number of players in the middle of your game area, with the spoon handles pointing outward. Using a standard 52-card deck, deal 4 cards to each player. During play, the dealer draws a card from the deck and either discards it or exchanges it with a card in his hand, passing the discard, face down, to the player on their left. The next players do the same except for the last player, who discards into a waste pile. When a player has 4 cards of a kind (for example, 4 aces or 4 queens), they take a spoon. The rest of the players then race to grab the rest of the spoons, leaving one player without — the game’s loser.

9. Gin Rummy

In this tried-and-true card game, players take turns drawing from a pile of cards or working from a discard pile. The object of the game is to create a winning hand of 3 or 4 of a kind. [5]

Other fun indoor games

10. Escape room games

Escape rooms are similar to video games, but they’re played out in real life. At an escape room, players explore their surroundings and solve puzzles in order to exit the room. Every escape room has a timer, and the players must solve the puzzle in that span of time to win the game. [6]

11. Twister

It’s the game that ties you up in knots! Twister is played with a large mat on the floor covered in large red, blue, yellow, and green spots. Each player takes a turn spinning a spinner which directs them to place a hand or foot on one of the colorful dots. No two players can share the same spot. If a player falls or touches a body part to the ground, they lose. The last player standing is the winner. [7]

12. Heads Up!

The name of the game Heads Up! is simple. It’s a physical card game but also can be played on your smartphone when you download the app. In the physical version, you draw a card, place it on your forehead and guess what’s on it by having the other players give you clues before the time runs out. In the app, simply place your phone on top of your head and the clues will pop up. Play from one of the numerous categories or even make your own category. The player that gets the most guesses correct wins. [8]

13. Paper telephone

In this paper-and-pencil version of the telephone game, everyone sits in a circle and writes down a straightforward phrase (something like “My dog is chewing a bone”) drawing the phrase they’ve received. When the drawings are done, everyone folds their paper to hide the phrase and then passes it to another person. The process then repeats. The third person writes a phrase describing the drawing, the fourth person draws the new phrase and so on. By the time it reaches the original author, who knows what the phrase has become!

14. Balloon tennis

To play balloon tennis, all you need to do is blow up some balloons and grab tennis rackets (or make your own). Once your balloons are ready, split up into 2 teams and start swatting them back and forth. If you care to keep score, do so however you’d like. Hitting balloons around might be all the fun you need.

15. Scavenger hunt

This classic game can be played indoors, outdoors or anywhere you want. Simply search for hidden items in your home, in the neighborhood or even on vacation. If you want to change it up, have the players take pictures of each item when they find it to keep track. [5]

16. Indoor bowling

Find a good spot in the house to set up an indoor-friendly bowling lane, then grab a ball and 10 empty plastic bottles. Arrange the bottles in a triangle as you would in traditional bowling, with 4 in the back row, then 3, 2 and 1 in each of the next 3 rows. Once the bottle pins are set, your family’s ready to bowl.

17. Jenga

Played with 54 wooden blocks, Jenga is a tower building game. The blocks start stacked 3 by 3, and each row is placed perpendicular to the one beneath it. Once the tower is built, each player takes a turn taking one block from any story of the tower, minus the top completed story. The game ends when the tower falls in any way. [9]

18. Paper plane contest

This simple family game to play at home can also help teach younger children about aerodynamics. Pass out some letter-size sheets of paper and have everyone fold together their best paper airplane. Then give all the aircraft a test flight down a long, open stretch of your house. The plane that goes the farthest distance wins, though it’s always worth it to redesign your plane and try again.

19. Charades

Charades is a living room game that never gets old. Split up into 2 teams and have a person from each team act out something — a movie, book, television show — for their teammates to guess. If you want, write down a bunch of prompts beforehand and toss them into a hat or bowl for participants to pull from. The team with the most correct guesses wins.

20. Hide and seek

This one seems simple, but finding creative places to hide indoors or even outdoors can be fun. If you want to change it up and get more interesting, use a timer to see which player or team can find the object or person in the shortest amount of time. [5]

Why family game night is important

Family game night is not only entertaining, but it provides many benefits for everyone, including:

  • Bonding with your family members
  • Teaching crucial skills
  • Sharing interests

How to plan and host a family game night

Now that you have all of the game ideas, you can start planning the next family game night! Here are a few tips on how to host the perfect night:

  1. Alternate who chooses the next game.
  2. Add prizes for the winners to get at the end of every game.
  3. Make a playlist full of songs everyone loves and crank the tunes.
  4. Pick games that everyone in the family can enjoy.
  5. Choose a theme and coordinate the night with outfits, snacks, and games that match! [10]

Need more ideas of things to do at home with the family? Check out these tips for planning the perfect staycation.

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Sources:

[1] “Catan Adventure Board Game for Adults and Family,” amazon.com/Catan-Studios-cantan (Sept. 11, 2023).

[2] “Monopoly,” boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1406/monopoly (Sept. 11, 2023).

[3] “UNO Card Game, Gift For Kids And Family Night In Storage Tin Box,” shop.mattel.com/products/uno-gdj85 (Sept. 11, 2023).

[4] “Sequence,” boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2375/sequence (Sept. 11, 2023).

[5] “35 Family Game Night Ideas,” Courtney McLaughlin, signupgenius.com/home/family-game-night-ideas.cfm (Sept. 11, 2023).

[6] “What is an Escape Room like in 2023?” theescapeeffect.com/blog/what-is-an-escape-room (Jan. 19, 2023).

[7] “Twister,” boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/5894/twister (Sept. 11, 2023).

[8] “Heads Up!” warnerbros.com/games-and-apps/heads (Sept. 11, 2023).

[9] “Jenga,” boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2452/jenga (Sept. 11, 2023).

[10] “The Ultimate List of Family Game Night Ideas for All Ages,” BlissLights LLC, blisslights.com/blogs/blisslights/family-game-night-ideas-for-all-ages (Oct. 24, 2022).

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