Four Ways To Begin A Weekly Family Game Night

by Chika Gujarathi

I don’t come from a strong tradition of family game nights, but thanks to a little board game called Ludo, my parents and I still have a good laugh about dramatic late nights spent keeping the peace between the winners and losers.

As a child who grew up in a neighborhood filled with kids her age, I spent most of my time hanging out with friends. But then there were also times when my parents would surprise my sister and me with a deck of cards or the aforementioned Ludo, and nothing seemed more special or more fun.

Incorporating a family game night into our already busy and scheduled lives might seem like a crazy idea to some, but it’s an investment that pays off in more ways than one. Besides all the expected fun and laughs (and okay, maybe an occasional sore loser), I think that it provides a unique opportunity when parents and children are on the same playing field, pun intended. Game night is a great opportunity for bonding and getting to know each other in a different yet fun context.

Setting the scene for a successful and family game night is easy:

1. Pick A Day – Find a night that works best for your family. For some, this might be a weeknight, for others, the weekend with more relaxed bedtimes could be a better choice.  Whatever you choose, just make sure to announce it ahead of time and set the expectation for what’s coming.

2. Snack Time – Family game night is all about the food. Order pizza (or make your own), pop stovetop popcorn – the food should be fun but healthy is even better. Toss the corn puffs and try a fondue or a grazing board filled with dips, cheeses, veggies, fruits, and charcuterie. Tortilla chips with salsa or pita chips with hummus are delicious choices as well.

3. Establish A No Screens Zone – Tell your children to leave their devices in another room. And then make sure you do the same. Place your own phones on silent and just forget all the dings and notifications trying to distract you from your family night.  Set a good example for your children and show them that you are present and prepared to have a good time.

4. Family Trophy – My final suggestion is to make a family trophy that gets circulated to the winner or winning team each week. Create it together using cardboard, empty bottles, pom-poms, ribbons, etc. The only requirement is to make it as cheesy, crazy, and colorful as possible. Try making the trophy during arts and craft time.

So exactly what kind of games make for a fun night of play? Whatever you choose, try to stick with non-video games. Videogame night can be another tradition, but it doesn’t take the place of fully interacting with your family members. No screentime allowed on family game night!

What To Play?

  • Oldies But Goodies – Who doesn’t remember blasts from the pasts like Monopoly, Sorry and Battleship?
  • Toddler Time – Or maybe you have smaller children? Why not try Candyland, Operation or Chutes and Ladders? 
  • Card Games – Try games like Goldfish, Old Maid and Uno
  • The Tried And The True – Checkers, chess and chinese checkers have been around for eons – for a reason.

More Tips & Tricks

Start with what you love and take it from there. If your children are old enough, designate them to pick the snacks, and a theme or a game on alternate nights, thereby making them responsible for the planning and organizing. 

I hope that I have inspired you to plan your very own game nights with the family. It might be something you start doing because it’s good for the kids, but know that playing is fun for all ages and chances are you will have more to gain not only in laughs and de-stressing but also in life-long memories.

Happy playing!