Let’s face it: Nobody wants a super-serious family game night that’s dull or overtaken by poor sportsmanship!
In this post, you will learn 37 fun family game night ideas that will bring loads of laughs, a healthy dose of competition, and an opportunity to teach kids new skills.
Most importantly, learn how to create an enjoyable family game night that will strengthen relationships and build genuine connections.
- What is family game night?
- 33 Fun Family Game Night Ideas that are Actually Entertaining for Everyone
- Best family game night board games
- Funny task games for family
- Best family games for all ages
- Family game night ideas with toddlers & preschoolers
- Best family games to play with elementary-aged kids
- Family game night ideas with older kids & teenagers
- Family game night ideas for adults
- Games to play with family without anything
- Christmas family game night ideas
- The last thing you need to know about choosing a fun family game night idea
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What is family game night?
Family game night is a tradition that has been around for generations. It is a time for family members of all ages to get together and enjoy each other’s company.
The goal of family game night is to have fun, laugh, and connect over some friendly competition or team-building.
Some people think that family game night is just about playing games, but it’s more than that. It’s about spending quality time with the people you love.
It doesn’t matter if you are playing board games, or cards, or don’t have any tangible materials at all – what matters is that you are all together.
What are the benefits of family game night?
As a Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator, I strongly advocate for families to play games before working through hot-button issues.
Games are a great way to start family meetings on a positive note.
Once parents and kids “connect” it becomes so much easier to “correct” challenging behavior or resolve conflict.
Additional benefits of holding family game nights include the opportunity to:
- Repair or strengthen strained relationships between family members.
- Take a break from your regular daily routine and de-stress.
- Model and teach children essential social skills (e.g., taking turns, self-control, & sportsmanship).
- Provide fun and enriching screen-free entertainment.
- Laugh with the people you love.
What types of games can you play with your family?
When it comes to hosting a fun family game night, it is essential to mix up the type of games you play from time to time.
This is particularly helpful if you have any family members that may resist your go-to game routine.
You might even show your family members a few choices from this post and have them pick out a new game!
Types of family game night options include:
- Board games
- Card games
- Task games
- Printable games (often sold as a PDF download)
- Scavenger hunts
- Seasonal/holiday games
- Computer or video games
- Games that require no materials or supplies
How do you make family game night fun?
- Temporarily put any hot-button issues or family grievances on the back burner
- Have your kids help with the planning
- Set the tone with a positive, light-hearted attitude
- Play fun background music
- Don’t be afraid to make your own family rules
- Don’t take yourself too seriously
- Remember to model healthy sportsmanship
- Prepare fun snacks
- Wear comfy clothes, PJs, or dress according to your game’s theme
33 Fun Family Game Night Ideas that are Actually Entertaining for Everyone
Best family game night board games
Classic Board Games
We all have that family member that doesn’t want to take the time to learn the rules of a new game.
A new edition of an old classic can bring the family together through both novelty and nostalgia!
Here are my favorite editions of some of the most popular classic board games.
Let’s face it, it can be tough finding a visually pleasing way to store family games. Then when they are tucked away in the closet, they rarely get used!
This vintage Clue set comes in a beautiful cloth-bound box you will want to keep out on the bookshelf. The aesthetics of this set will help every member of the family get excited for a murder mystery night.
Growing up with a 1980s Scrabble board, I vividly recall silly family disputes about who had to play with the board upside down.
Fortunately, the swivel feature of this mahogany cabinet-style Scrabble Deluxe Edition solves that problem!
Why settle for one classic board game when you could have them all?
This 7-in-1 combination set is larger and of better quality than I expected, especially for the price tag!
I may be biased here since this is the exact edition I grew up on. But in my opinion, nothing beats the classic Atlantic City boardwalk when it comes to Monopoly.
Modern Board Games
If your current board game collection has grown stale, it’s time to expand beyond the classics to ensure a fun family game night.
Here are our favorite family board games that have only been around for about a generation or less.
Although Ticket to Ride has only been around since 2007, this transcontinental railway adventure game has a classic feel that unites all members of the family.
You can’t help but get competitive trying to build the longest continuous route to connect major U.S. cities. The bigger the route, the more points you earn… you get the picture!
Style: Board game
Ages: 8 & Up (Kids version available for ages 6+)
Number of players: 2-5 players
Duration: 30-60 minutes
Why we love it: Ideal for travel lovers, adventure-seekers, and geography buffs.
I initially overlooked Wingspan thinking “Bird watching?! I don’t think that’s for me…”
Such a mistake! Trust me, you don’t have to be a bird enthusiast to get hooked on Wingspan (although if you do love bird watching, get ready for your new favorite game).
You have four rounds to attract the best birds to your ecosystem through a variety of habit-driven strategies. Every time you add a bird to your wildlife preserve you unlock another heap of habits.
Your wheels will never stop spinning!
Whether you grew up watching Little House on the Prairie or playing Oregon Trail, Catan will give you major westward expansion childhood nostalgia.
“Trade, build, and settle” is the name of the game here. If you are a family of Monopoly-lovers but want to change things up, you will love Catan.
Style: Board game
Ages: 10 & up
Number of players: 3-4 (expansion pack available for 5-6 players)
Duration: 60 minutes
Why we love it: Catan inevitably sparks lots of bartering, and with that, loads of family banter and laughter!
Azul is the perfect game for a family of art-lovers or just those who like to look at pretty things!
You will quickly pick up on the basic gameplay rules, then slowly uncover just how deep your strategizing can grow.
Each family member will work to complete a “wall” for the Royal Palace of Dvora. Try to complete your wall with the correct number and style of unique tiles… and hope your components don’t take a tile that derails all of your grand plans!
Style: Board game
Ages: 8 & up
Number of players: 2-4
Duration: 30-45 minutes
Why we love it: Unlike other games with tons of tiny pieces, Azul’s stunning artisan tiles will elicit a sense of peace and calm, not overwhelm!
Funny task games for family
Physical comedy is one of the best ways to evoke laughter from all family members during game night.
Funny task games are easy to learn, often work well for most age groups, and serve as an excellent reminder not to take yourself too seriously.
A sequel to the beloved Throw Throw Burrito game, Throw Throw Avocado is essentially half card game, half dodgeball.
You’ll battle it out (literally) to get the best card matches and earn points.
Sometimes you just need a ridiculous game to break the ice and get everyone chuckling.
I have yet to find anyone who can put on a pair of “upsidedown vision” glasses without erupting in laughter.
Add in some competitive and equally silly challenges and you’ll find this game is comedic gold.
Style: Physical tasks (identified by cards or make up your own).
Ages: Manufacturer recommends ages 8 & up (although even babies and toddlers will surely laugh as audience members!)
Number of players: 2-6
Duration: 20 minutes
Why we love it: Everyone thinks they can figure this one out quickly… think again!
Guesstures is a funny task game for families that has stood the test of time for over three decades.
Imagine classic charades, but with hilarious cards and a timer. Guesstures is perfect for large family gatherings of all ages.
Take turns drawing colored cards until you have three that match… sounds easy enough!
…that is until you start drawing the wrong colors and have to balance them on your head, under your arm, or in your elbow for the remainder of the game.
Dropsy is the perfect balance of simplicity, humor, and competition.
Best family games for all ages
Family game night can quickly end in frustration or poor sportsmanship when the game doesn’t meet the needs of every family member.
It is important to find games that work for everyone. This will allow each family member to be involved in the game and have a chance at winning.
Here are a few of our favorite games that will work for most ages.
The picture below says it all. While grownups may have an advantage in traditional Pictionary, drawing “with your nose” will quickly get everyone on the same playing field..
Kids, parents, and grandparents will be eager to create a nose masterpiece and guess what everyone else is drawing.
Rack-O was pretty much the only game I would play with my parents during my rocky middle school years.
While this simple drawing and organizing card game may appear to lack some of the bells and whistles of newer games, it’s easy for players of all ages to get instantly hooked!
PSA: Sitting down at a table is not a requirement for a fun family game night!
This larger-than-life set comes with instructions for four classic Dominoes games: Texas 42, Concentration, Block, and Chickenfoot.
Standard Deck Card Games
Family game night ideas with toddlers & preschoolers
Ladybug’s Garden is one of Fat Brain Toys’ best-selling games for the preschool crowd and rightfully so!
Take turns flipping over pairs of adorable wooden ladybugs until you find (and keep) your matches.
Players of all ages will enjoy swapping out 10 different game cards from the puzzle frame to keep things fresh and exciting every time!
My son received this game for his 3rd birthday and it’s been a huge hit at our house ever since!
Toddlers as young as two can follow the silly visual cards and partake in different physical challenges with a plush banana (e.g., “balance the banana on your elbow”).
Monkey Around teaches young players essential life skills including how to take turns, work as a team, and follow directions.
Around age 3 or 4, preschoolers can begin to learn basic card games. Sure, it takes a little patience, but the practice will be well worth it when they are ready to jump in with the whole family!
I love this classic playing card set by Melissa and Doug, which includes Go Fish, “Animal Rummy” and Old Maid.
Best family games to play with elementary-aged kids
Perhaps your child isn’t a “sit still for a board game” kind of kid. That’s perfectly okay! You can still put together a super fun and successful family game night.
The key is finding faster-paced, movement games like this award-winning Box & Balls set from Fat Brain Toys.
It offers unlimited ways to play solo or on family teams. Kids love making Box & Balls their own!
If competitive family games get too divisive for your child, I highly recommend checking out Acuity.
Compete against one another, or work together as a team, to flip and match 70 perfectly unique patterned tiles.
It can be tough to find indoor family games for sports lovers that don’t pose a risk to your breakable home decor!
Door Pong is pure genius. Simply attach a ping pong ball to your door frame and you’re ready to go. No more chasing down rogue balls!
You won’t find any video games on my list for a fun family game night. However, here is my top choice for kids who crave speedy play with lots of button-pressing!
GibGab is simple yet enthralling. Choose your unique category from over 300 cards and be the first player to buzz in with your answer.
Family game night ideas with older kids & teenagers
So silly and simple, this one gets addicting. Players take turns flipping their cards while together saying the sequence, “taco, cat, goat, cheese, pizza.”
Beware! If the spoken word matches the card, you’ll need to move quickly. The last person to slap the pile of cards has to keep them all.
I have so many fond memories of playing Mexican Train with my mother during my teen years and over college breaks.
Mexican Train is a great choice for deeper-level thinking and complex gameplay. It takes a few minutes to learn; however, you will get better and better at building up your “trains” each time you play!
Snip Snap is an excellent fast-paced, tactile game that will keep everyone in suspense.
Roll the playing dice and be the first to call out (then snap together) any matching dice between you and your opponents. The first player to match all their dice wins!
If you enjoy category games, you’ll love a fresh take with 5 Second Rule.
Rather than naming just one word in a given category, players will be challenged to call out three (e.g., “Name 3 breeds of dog”) before time runs out.
Family game night ideas for adults
Codenames is the perfect word game for large groups of older children/teens and adults. The more players you have, the more fun and competitive it will be!
Teams work as detectives to reveal the true identities of 25 secret agents using only their “codenames” and word association clues.
I don’t know about you, but I have played other question-and-answer games and said, “Why on earth would I know that?!”
“I should have known that!” will still stump the everyday trivia player plenty, but on questions that are at least within their reach!
A blend of silliness, strategy, and…sushi!
In this expanded version of Sushi Go, players can choose from a “menu” of over 20 dishes and earn points by collecting cards with winning food combinations.
Games to play with family without anything
Whether on the road, at a hotel, or just suddenly in the mood to play a game at a family gathering, sometimes you don’t have any props on hand. That’s a-ok!
Here are some fun, engaging games for families of all ages that require absolutely no materials to play.
The ultimate team-building challenge! The premise of the Human Knot Game is simple, but the solution is often complex:
- Stand in an open circle facing one another.
- Reach out across the circle and hold hands with two different people.
- Without unlinking hands, work to untwist and re-form an open circle. You will have reached your goal when all arms are no longer crossing.
Style: Physical/team-building challenge
Ages: 6 & up
Number of Players: 4+ (although even larger groups work best)
Duration: 10-20 minutes
Why We Love It: This challenge brings the family close together (literally) to work towards a common goal.
Check out the video below to see the Human Knot Challenge in action (Spoiler alert: Just don’t watch past 47 seconds if you want to keep the solution a secret!).
Who says you need playing cards to dictate classic guessing games?
Acting out ordinary, everyday tasks such as opening a can will quickly get sillier than you think!
Country Living put together a comprehensive list of over 160 Charades ideas for your next fun family game night.
Style: Action-oriented guessing game
Ages: 4 & Up
Number of Players: 2+
Duration: 2-5 minutes per round
Why We Love It: If you are playing multiple board games on your next family game night, charades is a fun way to get up and moving!
The Picnic Game
I have fond memories of playing The Picnic Game for hours on a day-long road trip. It’s a clever guessing game rooted in patterns.
One person chooses a secret “rule” for what their family can bring to an imaginary picnic (e.g, each family member can only bring items that begin with the first letter of their name).
Players will take turns asking if they can bring various items. Based on the first person’s yes/no responses, the other players can begin to guess the pattern/rule.
For example, Sarah might ask, “Can I bring a watermelon?” (no), or “Can I bring ‘smores?” (yes).
You can visit the Game Gal’s complete breakdown of how to play with more rule ideas here.
Style: Guessing/word game
Ages: 7 & up (may be able to go younger depending on the rules you select)
Number of Players: 2+
Duration: 10-15 minutes
Why We Love It: The more you get stumped (or stump your family members), the more you’re going to want to play this game and prevail!
Christmas family game night ideas
A few years ago my mother-in-law showed up at our family Christmas with a simple “Name that Christmas Carol” printout game and the rest is history.
Now we are always prepared with a full lineup of competitive games to get into the holiday spirit.
The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to come together over simple laughs and quality time.
The ideal combination Christmas game set for the entire family!
The youngest family members will love searching high and low around the house for festive items in the Christmas Scavenger Hunt game.
Older kids and adults will share tons of laughs while putting on their best holiday performance in Christmas Charades!
One of the best Christmas movies of all time comes to life in this themed Monopoly set!
You will be quoting Buddy the Elf all night long while traveling through the seven levels of the candy cane forest, escaping the Park rangers, or heading back to Papa Elf’s house.
If you have a very large gathering for Christmas, consider adding in some extra holiday cheer with this Sing Me an Emoji game.
With cards for up to 25 people, you will have a blast attempting to remember the names of classic Christmas carols. You can add your own present/prize to take the competition up a notch!
Looking for easy and engaging Christmas activities for kids? Check out our very own printable activity pack here at Such a Little While:
The last thing you need to know about choosing a fun family game night idea
There are so many fabulous options for holding a family game night, that it’s easy to experience choice overload.
Try not to overthink it.
In the end, it does not matter if you choose a fancy board game or use an old deck of cards.
It is no big deal if your family follows a game’s rules perfectly or opts to create their own.
Laugh more. Love often. And cherish your time with the people who mean the most to you.
You’ve got this!