If you’re like most parents, you probably have a vision of spending time with your family playing games and connecting with one another. Today’s lifestyle leaves many kids and adults so focused on screens that there seems to be little time left to connect on a more personal level.
Family game night may seem like an easy solution, but it’s easy for kids to lose interest. Especially if your game night features the same tired board games with the same predictable outcomes.
Technology is amazing, but nothing is as important as time spent with loved ones. Parents can help kids learn healthy tech habits by researching and choosing a cell phone for kids that offers substantial parental controls. Most kids, especially younger ones, need some help when it comes to placing limits on screen time, so consider choosing a phone that only offers communications capability, not full access to the web. When the time comes for family game night, make it clear that this will be a no-phones zone, and be sure you adhere to your own goals!
Shake things up
Family game night doesn’t have to mean dragging out the same old board games. Think outside of the box (literally) when you’re planning your next game night. For instance, you may have heard of escape rooms. If not, an escape room is an exciting game where you and your group are locked in a room and have to escape by solving clues in an allotted amount of time. They became popular in the last few years and are now available online. Consider an escape room at home for a night filled with fun, problem-solving, and collaboration.
Also, many games don’t require special equipment or a long list of rules. Consider making a scavenger hunt filled with inside jokes or charades and put a spin on the topics.
You can even run a two-team fort-building challenge. Break out the blankets, pull off the couch cushions, and compete to create the best living room creation ever.
Take it outdoors
When weather and lighting permit, consider moving game night outdoors. Kids and adults often spend far too much time inside. An outdoor game night (or game afternoon) gives everyone a chance to get some fresh air and move around.
Old-fashioned yard games are perfect. Balloon tosses, three-legged races, and hide-and-seek are great options. You can also find plenty of outdoor game ideas online.
Invite others to join in
If you think game night is a great way to spend time with each other, you probably aren’t alone. Consider inviting another family to come over for game night.
You can even create homemade invitations for the event, which extends the fun. Brainstorm about which games are the best fit for the ages involved, and try to find games your guests may never have played. When the time comes for them to reciprocate, you might discover new games at their house.
Feed the fun
Make game night feel even more special by incorporating food into the party. You could go with a buffet-style and let everyone grab a bite throughout the evening. Or design a full theme that encourages everyone to sit together at the beginning or end of the games.
Even something as simple as a pizza and popcorn night can make game night feel like a novelty. Ask your kids for their ideas, or if they’re old enough, turn over the food prep to them.
Create a game night trophy
If your family is the competitive type, build a trophy that the winner of game night gets to keep in their room until the next event. It doesn’t have to follow traditional trophy design.
It doesn’t even have to look like an actual trophy. Toys or decorations hot-glued on a bowl or statue can make a one-of-a-kind trophy that anyone would be excited to display.
Have a quick (and silly) award ceremony at the close of the games. Give acknowledgment to “best team player,” “most spirited,” or “biggest effort.” Be sure to leave time for acceptance speeches.
Keep the tradition going
The best way to make family game nights something to look forward to is to talk about your favorite memories from previous game nights. Even when life is hectic and you can’t make time for a game night, take a few moments to talk about your plans for next time.
Explore new themes, research new games, and plan your menu for next time. This gives you a chance to look forward and an opportunity to relive happy memories.
Be sure to incorporate input and ideas from everyone. Game night is more enjoyable when you have a role in the planning. Even the smallest members of the family can bring something to the table.
Be sure to give credit where credit is due. When someone has a great idea, refer to it as “their” game. This is a great way to build self-esteem and support creativity.
Timing is everything
As you plan your next game night, be sure to think about when and where the event will take place. A weeknight game night can be awesome, but not if everyone is so hyped up that no one gets enough sleep.
If your game night is taking place closer to bedtime, structure the schedule in a way that lets everyone slow down near the end. This might be a great time to break out the tried-and-true board games. Don’t push beyond the point where little ones are starting to yawn.
Of course, if your event is happening in the middle of a Saturday, you can go all out in terms of duration and intensity. You might even buy yourself some pooped out kids who go to bed early. That’s a great opportunity to turn game night into an at-home date night!