7 Simple Tips for an Enjoyable Family Game Night

Put your hands together for Zina from Let’s Lasso the Moon. I’m so tickled that she has written about one of my favorite topics: family game time.
{7 Tips for an Enjoyable Family Game Night} *30+ game suggestions too

Having a peaceful and fun Family Game Night can feel a bit unattainable, or Norman Rockwell, to the modern parent. The following questions may pop into your head:

How do you ensure the kids don’t fight about who goes first? How do we avoid crying over a loss? How do you maintain your sanity if your child wants to play Candy Land (again)?

Below are seven simple tips, plus links to 30+ family-friendly game suggestions, for ensuring your game night is enjoyable:

1. Start Young—Start a monthly game night now, whether your child is two or twelve. There are entertaining family games available for kids of all ages. Make this family tradition a regular habit at the house so when your kids hit the tween years, “It’s just something you’ve always done.”

2. Give Everyone a Say—Start your game night by having each family member choose one game for the evening. If your children are professional “I want to go first” kids, like mine, roll a dice to settle the argument. Highest roller picks the game. [Note: You’d be surprised how often the winner of the dice roll picks another family member’s game. Children can be inherently kind.] In our family, we let the team who wins the first game chose what to play next.

3. Make it Cooperative—Consider cooperative games if you have a small child participating in your family game night. Cooperative games are designed to have your family work together as a team to prevail over a fictitious opponent. It is a perfect opportunity for a young child to experience winning as a group.

4. Play Teams—Does the thought of playing one-more-game of Candy Land makes your head spin? Ignore the recommended age ratings on games. Collaborate! Create adult-kid teams and play adult games instead. We’ve been ignoring age recommendations with games like Rummikub for years.

{Life on Earth} Awesome memory game...5. Ensure Your Kids REALLY Win— It is my personal opinion that you should not “let a child win.” Sooner or later they’re going to FEEL that you’re faking it and you’ll lose your child’s overall trust. That is not something to take lightly!

There are so many opportunities for children to experience truly winning, like playing cooperative and collaborative games. Below are two personal game suggestions for ensuring your kids win on their own.

Play Memory—I try, try, try to be a present parent. Yet my mind still occasionally wanders. My girls have been kicking my butt at Memory since they were, honestly, about three-years-old. I highly recommend the Eeboo Matching Games. The quality of the matching cards is nice. Our game has lasted through a set of toddler years and still serves us well on coffee dates!

Play Suspend—Suspend is one of my favorites because I knock over the game as often as the girls do. Here are four additional reasons Suspend is a game closet MUST.

Check it out here:

6. Have a Game Night Buffet—Have healthy snacks on hand. That is my number one parenting tip for any situation. Children behave better if they are well fed. On game night, our family creates a healthy buffet and grazes throughout the evening. Need some inspiration? Click here for some creative family recipes.

7. Create a Tradition— Setting a standard date, like the first Friday of each month, is an easy way to guarantee the event shows up on your family calendar. Be realistic! Life has a tendency to … happen. Pick a time frame you know you can stick to and you’ll ensure the kids won’t be disappointed with cancellations.

Looking for some new games for your family? Click here to see my top 10 Tested & Approved Family Games. Below you will also find additional resources including FULL REVIEWS of a variety of games right here on What We Do All Day.

Do you see your favorite family game in the line-up below? If not, let me know in the comments below. We are always looking for suggestions.


Zina from Let's Lasso the Moon
Zina is the author of Let’s Lasso the Moon, where she inspires parents and children to interact creatively and enjoy the beauty of everyday moments.

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Image Credits via Flickr Creative Commons: Board Games by Michelle Tribe, Sorry by John Liu, Monopoly and Cash by John-Morgan, Peace by Kate Ter Haar, Candy Land by Joshua Ganderson, Suspend by Zina Harrington

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  1. writersideup says:

    Erica, I am SO in favor of a Family Game Night. It’s something I wanted to do when my son was growing up, but it was a very rare occasion we all sat down to do it. A regret of mine, so if people can do it, even if it’s once a month or whatever, it’s worth it! I love that you actually thought of a listed approach for any problems a parent would encounter. Mine was simply forgetting or a constant conflict in schedules or willingness :(

    And in reference to #5—YES! I can’t see letting a kid win unless they do. Not only is it “lying,” but they’re being taught everything comes in and they don’t learn that losing is a part of playing any game. My son was (and still basically is *sigh*) overly-competitive and if there’s a way of instilling a less-competitive take on things, I think it should be done :)

  2. This is a great post, and I’ll probably link to it when I do my gift guide. Our game night is usually Saturday afternoon, and we don’t let our daughter win unless she really wins.

  3. LOVE this post, Erika!! We definitely need to start this.

    • Erica MomandKiddo says:

      Thanks, Anna. I think all of Zina’s tips are right on the money – especially “start early”!

  4. I love that you loose at memory! Me too!!! And I don’t think it’s just because me mind wanders… maybe I should be playing more often. ;)

  5. We love “don’t eat pete”, “spot it”, “domino train” and “pictureka” too! Love this post. Thanks for all your tips!

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