When you’re momming it, Friday nights (or random Tuesday afternoons) take on a totally different look. All of a sudden, cozy Friday nights in wearing comfy pajamas and noshing on delicious snacks in the family room. And, what’s better for those fun family times than some board games the whole family can play and enjoy? If you’ve been looking for a way to create family memories for years, check these out what we’ve found for all ages–and let the fun begin!
There are a million and one reasons why having a family game night is a good idea, and even more reasons why making sure the board game closet/shelf is full of memory-making fun. In the day and age of fast-paced everything, playing the best board games for families will be the stuff your children’s memories are made of for years to come.
How To Create The Perfect Family Game Night
If Family Game Night is not already part of your weekly routine, no worries! The good news is that there are tons of awesome board games out for family members of all ages, and whether your littles are just learning how to use their little hands or on their way to college soon, there’s something entire families can enjoy. And, there’s nothing that says the same game has to be played by every family member. Particularly in larger families with several different age ranges, it’s completely cool to have several different games and game stations going on!
The most important thing to remember when starting a Family Game Night tradition is that it’s all about connectivity. Too many of our family activities these days are in actuality more solo deals. Soccer Saturdays typically involve traveling to individual family member’s games and playing or rooting them on. Practices are typically individual as well. And, since electronics continue to become less and less expensive, it’s even easier for kids to cater to their own interests on a personal device or screen. Television and streaming features even allow children to watch different shows and events–even when we’re ‘watching tv,’ we are no longer watching television together. Family Game Night helps families reconnect in a fun and engaging way that includes everyone, and in that reconnection, relationships continue to strengthen and grow.
And, remember to start small! If you can’t commit to weekly just yet, don’t fret! It’s completely okay to start tradition building slowly, and work your way to weekly (if you choose; some families really enjoy monthly Family Game Nights and even do themes!). Don’t feel like you need to wait until your kids are ‘old enough’ to get games. There are lots of fun toddler/preschool-friendly games that we adults have a great time playing too, and if you start Family Game Night when your kids are younger, they’ll buy into it as a family routine they love and look forward to.
Life gets busy, and time is at a premium, of course. We know this all-too-well, and so be sure to make the same day and time a priority when scheduling. Make whatever day you choose a day that you won’t have to compete with other obligations, and should things come up, don’t feel bad about saying, “No,” because you have Family Game Night scheduled. When you make that commitment to Family Game Night, your children will know that it’s an important period of time together you cherish. That will translate into them understanding the importance of family in general.
Which also means you need to take care of anything distracting to Family Game Night. There’s no reason for anyone to have their cell phones or devices, nor is there any reason for anyone to watch television while playing or have their headphones on. The point of Family Night Game is to connect with each other, and the fewer distractions, the better the connection.
Benefits Of Family Game Night
It’s kind of funny that we even have to detail the benefits of spending time with your family, laughing and playing games. But the truth of today seems to be that if you’re not trying to get your three-year-old into college, you’re not being a good parent. HA! We call the baloney card on that. The real truth is that if you want secure children who grow and learn at developmentally appropriate stages and levels, there’s nothing better that you can do than spend time together doing something you all enjoy.
In addition to just being a great way to have fun and connect with each other, playing the best board games for families does so many other things as well!
- Family Game Night can help teach good sportsmanship skills. Let’s be real. No one really likes to lose, and if truth be told, learning how to lose gracefully is often easier than learning how to win gracefully. Yes, you read that right. The fact of the matter is that in life, we have lots of experiences where we don’t make it or win, and our experiences shape our reactions. But, unless you’ve got some lucky little leprechaun up your sleeve, learning how to be a graceful and kind winner isn’t as easy to do in real-life situations, so playing games within the safe boundaries of your family is a great way to learn about good sportsmanship. Within the constructs of your Family Game Night, you can help teach your children why whining and crying about losing isn’t productive, and you can also let them know how ugly bragging and gloating when you win can look. Family Game Nights are great ways to address paying fair and square, as we’ve yet to meet the child who didn’t try to cheat at least once in some sort of game. When your children learn how cheating or sneaking or even playing poorly affects the people they love the most, they’ll be able to see how that might affect others in life as they grow as well. Think about every game you’ve ever played and remember how great it felt when the winners were gracious and the losers were good-natured. Family Game Nights can shape your children to be those people too. And, Family Game Night helps kids learn about the important skills of being good teammates. Many of the best board games for families include opportunities for collaborative play, and those are life skills that kids can use their entire lives. We don’t give board games enough credit, but again, when we remember play is how children go about the business of learning, it makes total sense that sportsmanship skills will be built.
- Family Game Night can help instill good life skills. Speaking of life skills…Family Game Night can teach so many life skills that you might not otherwise have the opportunities to teach in an authentic way. Aside from the basic fine and gross motor skill developments that many littles will glean, there’s something to be said about learning how to interpret body language and nonverbal cues. Kenny Rogers wasn’t just singing a song when he told us we needed to know how to hold them and know when to fold them. Games played with family give the opportunity to read others’ cues, collaborate, strategize, take risks, and fall gently when that risk-taking doesn’t always work out like we think it might. A Family Game Night is a great way for social skills to strengthen and grow, and for kids to learn how to have growth mindsets instead of fixed ones.
- Family Game Nights fill you in. Think about the last time you and your tween or teen had a conversation that didn’t include them asking you for permission to go somewhere/do something/have something. You know, the kind of conversation where you learn about each other, and you discuss things that really matter and will be carried with them for a while. It’s probably not all that often, but Family Game Night can make that different! When you’re all gathered around a game table and have the pressure of ‘talking’ taken off because you’re all actually ‘playing,’ you’d be surprised at what you learn and discuss! Sometimes just casual comments can lead to really introspective and sharing types of discussions, and even better, within the boundaries of your family values and mores shaping the talks. Think about it–no devices or headphones to distract, no pressure to converse–just authentic conversation that comes up in the course of a benign game with the fam. It’s a great way for really important conversations to perhaps start and be discussed later, and it’s a safe place where kids don’t feel like they’re being drilled for info.
- Family Game Nights channel energy into positive, stress-reducing opportunities for fun. Not only has laughter been found to reduce stress, but it’s also even been found to be effective in battling cancer! Laughter is good for the soul and the body, and for littles, it’s a great way to channel energy that is always seeming to seek stimulation. Family Game Night gives the entire family something to look forward to on a regular basis, and the conversations, fun and laughter that will happen during each game night will be the stuff memories are made of. It’s tough to be a kid in today’s stressful society that is constantly encouraging kids to grow up too quickly and forgo too much of their childhood. Family Game Nights reinforce ‘child’ in childhood in the best ways, and your kids will be grateful for the opportunity to slow down and have some good, old-fashioned fun.
- Family Game Night is good for brains. As much as we’re believers in play for play’s sake, there’s no denying that play is the best way for kids to learn either. And, why not take advantage of the brain benefits that come with playing games? In fact, leisure activities like board games have been suggested to ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s (so benefits for the whole family!) because of the neural work out the logic behind playing games offers. So, think of Family Game Night as getting some brain gym time in too…with a whole bunch of fun and laughs as the perk! No, really, Family Game Night can build language skills as well. Communication is so important in the family structure, and so many fabulous board games require communication skills to play together or compete against each other. Some games even need you to call out specific words to be the winner, and believe it or not, when you’re playing games that encourage quick thinking and follow-up speech, you’re building neural connections that will help children in other areas as well. Neuroproccessing and timing are strengthened and that makes a difference in sports, school and other activities.
Related: Signs Your Child May Need More Sleep
The Best Board Games For Family Game Night
We’ve searched high and low and our mamas from our forums have shared their faves. Here are the best board games for families to play for years to come!
We love this game, and so will your littles to bigs. It’s perfect for kids three and up and has easy instructions. It’s perfect for building visual perception and reasoning skills through a fun game wither kids and parents make some pretty funny movements and sounds. It’s silly, but it’s one that they’ll beg to play each week, we promise!
Another easy-peasy but super fun game, Mixed Emojis is one of those games that will build social and emotional skills while also strengthening working memory ability. It’s a quick game, so perfect for just starting Family Game Night or warming up before you hit another game, and even one we love taking in the car because the cards are perfect for travel or restaurant waits. You might be surprised at what YOU learn from the emojis, and you’ll be giving your kiddos a great opportunity to work on pragmatic language to boot!
This strategy game is perfect for your Disney enthusiasts and can be combined with other games in the Villainous line for even more compounded fun. Each ‘villain’ has its own goals and objectives, and it’s a great strategy game that doesn’t include screens but certainly includes a ton of logic and fun. It is an award-winning game that will have your whole family plotting with and against each other again and again.
Another awesome strategy game for Potterheads (of all ages) is Harry Potter’s Labyrinth. It’s a wildly popular board game for 2-4 players who are looking for the shortest routes through the labyrinth to collect all the treasures. Your children (and you) will love all the special touches of this well-crafted game and it’ll be a game night favorite!
So it’s not exactly a board game, but….it’s a fun game for families and it’s great for building brains too! You have to execute skill and knowledge, combined, and it encourages hilarious teamwork and collaboration. Because you can play in teams, even though the suggested age is 10+, you can still have younger, new readers helping along–building skills and having fun along the way.
This beautiful game is so artfully crafted and perfect for even the littlest game players in the family. It’s a short game, so it will keep the attention of little minds, and it’s easy to understand how to collect the tail feathers for four beautiful little birdies. It’s a great game for teaching kids about taking turns and low key score-keeping. It has holders for the smaller hands of the family and it’s easy for the games to level up so littles can play with their big siblings as many times as they want. (Spoiler: it’ll be a lot!)
There’s no taco-ing about how much fun this game is. It’s great for fine and gross motor skills, and is a fast-paced game that is fun for the whole family. It’s a race to fill taco shells in the correct order, and really, who doesn’t love stuffing taco shells at high speeds? Not to be punny (okay, totally punny), but it’s nacho average family game night game!
While your little ones may not be able to keep up with Scrabble, for starters, they can hit Scrabble Jr. Scrabble Jr. offers letter-matching for littles and then moves into creating their own words as their skill levels grow. The cute tokens engage kids, and it is a game that keeps the brains sharp and grows with the kiddos too.
This one is for teens (about 14+) but it’s a ton of fun. There’s building and betrayal of the best kind–the Unicorn Kind–and the first family member to build their army of unicorns is the winner. Let’s be honest though–it only makes sense that the one with the most unicorns wins. Talk about games imitating life!
Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
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