When the weather turns cold and there’s no end in sight, rather than have family members retreating to their rooms or staring endlessly into their screens, pull together a family game night! It’s easy and fun, and it’s the stuff memories are made of.
This is not about video games, of course. I’m talking about those old-fashioned, totally analog board games that you play with other people who are physically on-site with you, where you laugh, eat snacks, and lose track of time.
Sounds cheesy? Oh, it is. Let’s do this.
Use paper plates and napkins along with disposable utensils. This is a super casual, fun night. Who wants to do dishes? Choose snacks that are easy to eat, some hot and some not, and some that can even double as dinner.
Briana Marie, a mother of two from Detroit, says snacks like mini-pizza bagels, Italian pinwheels, pretzel bites, popcorn, chips, and trail mix work well for family game night.
Other stackable items like crudités, pita and hummus, cheese and crackers, baked potato skins, sandwiches, and pizza (homemade or delivered) make game night a casual and fun party.
Choose upbeat, instrumental music that won’t interfere with any conversation but will add a nice element to the background of your evening.
Perhaps you’ll want to theme the music to the game. For example, if you’re playing Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, cue the John Williams soundtrack. If you’re playing Clue, perhaps some Pink Panther or “mystery” music would be fun. If you’re playing chess, a nice classical medley may be in order.
One key rule you will want to institute for family game night is that everyone must disconnect from their digital devices. Put the phones, tablets, and computers away. Let them charge back up to 100 percent on silent mode while the whole family focuses on the game, the snacks, and being with each other.
There are so many games on the market these days, it’s a lot to parse through. While new ones do pop up that are truly excellent from time to time, remember that the classics are classics for a reason.
Monopoly, if you’ve got time, is the ultimate family board game for game night, but there are plenty more.
Life, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Charades, Scrabble, Scattegories, Uno, Boggle, Clue, Sorry, and Blokus are all great classic games to get started with.
If chess is your thing, you can start a tournament. Even a simple deck of cards can be all you need for a fun night ahead. Play a game you know or learn the rules of a new one. (YouTube can be a huge help in this regard.)
For families with very young kids, checkers, Chutes and Ladders, Connect Four, and junior versions of “big kid” games can be a lot of fun, too.
Make It a Recurring Event
At the end of your family’s game night, it will (hopefully) be clear how valuable this time together really is.
Commit to making family game night a monthly event. Pick an evening that’s easy for everyone, and mark the calendar for the next one. You can look for new games to try, establish a tournament, or invite more people to join in. Or you can just keep it simple and know that every month, the whole family is going to unplug, be present, and enjoy a fun time together.