Family Game Night Suggestions

The idea of a “family game night” has gotten some traction in our house — the kids are getting old enough to keep game pieces out of their mouths and “waiting their turn” no longer incites screams or tantrums.  We were at the bookstore at the mall the other day and there were a lot of games that looked pretty fun — but it was a bit overwhelming.  Any suggestions for board-type games under these categories?

(1) family [includes children ages 5 and 7]

(2) party [games played with adults, but not requiring massive amounts of skill or concentration — to be enjoyed during a social, etc.]

(3) children [specifically for children to play amongst themselves (ages 5 and 7)]

30 Comments

zra

about 11 years ago

I can remember getting started on Monopoly around that time (7).

ironic1

about 11 years ago

I'd recommend Fluxx for 2, and maybe for 1 and 3.  There are lots of varieties of Fluxx.  Family Fluxx may be appropriate for 1.

I'd also recommend Ticket to Ride (USA) for 1 and 2, though there are a lot of small parts.  I think my kids started playing Ticket to Ride about then.

Of course dominos are great with a variety of games that can be played with them.

May be a bit early for Catan for the 5 year old, but certainly the 7 year old could play.

Pit is a fun, easy to play, fast paced game.

wildgoose

about 11 years ago

I think you've got a great idea there.  I like Family Game night on a number of different levels.  A year or so ago I wrote this little essay for the Prevent Child Abuse MN newsletter.  It got picked up by a couple of websites and was on my blog before it became defunct.  Here's a link.

Winter Got You Stuck Inside? Turn off the TV and Bring out the Family Games

Laura

about 11 years ago

Good family games might be Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, For Sale, and Settlers of Catan. My nieces (ages 7-15) happily play all those (though the youngest doesn't do Catan,) but they absolutely love a card based game called Bohnanza where you trade and plant beans. It's easy to grasp for the 7 year old and fun for adults the first hundred times, then it gets old.

For non-rules heavy party games for adults, we usually end up with Trivial Pursuit teams (a reduced # of pies to win if it's taking forever,) and we've also done Wits and Wagers.

We've ordered a lot of our games online since the local selection is limited.

Camila

about 11 years ago

We like Connect Four and Dominoes as well. 

Others I'd recommend follow here: 
The Uncle Wiggily Game (2-4 players, ages 4-8)
The I Spy Memory Game (1-6 players, 5+)
Operation (1+ players, ages 6+)
Mille Bornes (2-6 players, ages 8+)
Sorry (2-4 players, 6+) 

Sorry remains our family favorite. We even keep an on-going tally of wins.
 
As for the adults, my personal favorites are Taboo, Guesstures, Scattergories, Hearts, Spades, and Dominoes.

conrad

about 11 years ago

I would buy the book "The Games Bible."  Why it is not a board game it has a ton of games.  Some are fun, some are cheesy, some are really hard.  But it has enough games in it that your family will find something it likes to play, and the best thing is that there is some many different games in there that as they grow, you will be able to find new ones to play.

Bad Cat!

about 11 years ago

I'd recommend Apples to Apples (family or kids versions). It's a great social game that kids can easily pick up. Family Fluxx and Aquarius by Looney Labs games are good.

Check out children's games/family games sections on BoardGameGeek.com. It's a great way to find new games and to get an idea of how fun they are. There are many kids games out there that are fun for kids, and an interesting/good game at the same time.

Tom

about 11 years ago

Wow, board games have certainly changed lately.  I wasn't a kid very long ago, and I haven't heard of ANY of the games listed in these comments, other than Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit.

ironic1

about 11 years ago

Tom, you probably stopped playing games before the German invasion of the late 90s.  German gamemakers really revolutionized board gaming here in the US.  They are balanced, playable, and very fun and keep people in the game the whole time (in general) as opposed to eliminating them one by one (like Risk or Monopoly).  Head to Dragon Port or Collector's Connection and check 'em out.

Laura, good call on Carcassone.

Bad Cat!, I've actually never played Apples to Apples but that sounds like a great suggestion.

Bad Cat!

about 11 years ago

Apples to Apples is a fun/casual party game. I introduced it to my non-gamer family and they loved it! Say Anything is another fun social/family game I was able to introduce to the non-gaming family. They also have a family version that I think would be great for kids.

There are a ton of games out there that are fun/interesting/good for kids & adults, but there's also a lot of drek out there. I use BoardGameGeek to help me sort it out.

Tom

about 11 years ago

Well, that's probably true.  I still have a large board game collection from when I was a kid, but I haven't really bought any in the past 10 years or so.  I love those old, decrepit games that are worn out, falling apart, and missing pieces.  I guess I'm a traditionalist.

ironic1

about 11 years ago

Tom, those games are great in their own right.  I still love Diplomacy.

udarnik

about 11 years ago

Blokus is good as a family game, and Connect 4 is easy for kids to play together.

davids

about 11 years ago

My 8-year-old has mastered the card game Dominion so well that I can no longer win, even though I try. Maybe a bit complicated to learn initially, but the cards tell you what they do, and it's a buying game that is a lot more fun than Monopoly in my opinion. Not everyone in my family loves it, but he and I have been playing regularly for the past few months. 

Carcassonne is fun and has lots of variants, including a Hunter-Gatherer edition and various expansion kits.

brian

about 11 years ago

Blokus and Apples to Apples.
Mancala is good for 2. I don't know if there's a 4-player variation.

Beret

about 11 years ago

I agree with Apples to Apples. My kids loved it. My son (then 5) thought it was hilarious when he'd get the "Al Gore" card. 

Bezzerwizzer is a fun trivia game for adults.

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago

At our house we call Blokus "the party killer." We love Blokus, but it gets so intense that everyone stops talking and focuses on the visual geometry. So, it's fun, but not really an interactive kind of fun. 

By the way, although it's supposed to be pronounced "block us," we like to call it "blow-cus." It allows for better catch phrases like "focus on your Blokus" and "hey, you really pulled some hocus Blokus on that one."

Another thing: I highly recommend Blokus Trigon over regular Blokus.

George

about 11 years ago

I just played a great game that would fit the first two, and probably all three categories.  It is called "In a Pickle" and it is a word-based card game that plays fast and is enjoyable for all ages.  We had a competitive group of late teens and adults, all laughing and enjoying it.  My five year old joined us and won the game.  He didn't need any help with the rules although we did define a couple words for him.  So it is educational too ;-).

watergirl

about 11 years ago

We play Apples to Apples at every family holiday with all family members young and old. Highly recommended!

Beverly

about 11 years ago

Blokus can get intense, which is why we say "Blokus!" as if we're cussing when we play it.
I like Master Mind, in part because if you play it systematically, you'll win every time. It's a good teaching game for kids to learn logic.
We play Catan with a 6-year-old, but my 12-year-old noticed that I favor the young one when we're playing. I make trades with her that help her, put my roads where they don't block her, and that tips the scales enough against everyone else that she'll win. I might have to stop doing that.
I'll repeat the Apples to Apples recommendation, but suggest the kids' version. It's not that the adult version is inappropriate, it's just that kids won't know who the people are on too many of the cards. There's too much for them not to understand.
I also like chess, Othello, Stratego, Monopoly if you have time to kill. Snap it Up and Blink are fun, quick card games (but stressful if you don't like to play quickly). Loot is a pirate card game my son likes.
I don't like Sorry, too heartbreaking. I've never understood Life very well; is there strategy? And I can't believe I recently let Candyland back into the house, which, like baseball, could theoretically never end.

doubledutch

about 11 years ago

My boys have a cool game called Pengoloo.  I can no longer find all the pieces, but it used to be fun, and the five-year-old could definitely play.  My kids still play with it, even though we can't officially play the game anymore.

My favorite game to play when I was very young was a memory/matching game called Husker Du.  I just checked Amazon and it's still around, but regular old Memory is fun too (or a personalized version you make yourself).

doubledutch

about 11 years ago

I want to attempt to play Pictionary with my kids.  It would be fun to try to guess what their pictures are, but really hard for them not to give away what the word is.

Shane Bauer

about 11 years ago

Our 7-year-old loves Bananagrams, and adults enjoy it too. Easy to travel with, for in the camper, at home, etc. Surprised no one has mentioned that one yet - resembles Scrabble a little. I know they have it at the Fitger's book store.

I Love Duluth

about 11 years ago

I really like "The Scrambled States of America" for grade school age kids.  It's a card game that teaches them states and it's fun enough and varied enough for kids of different ages to play together and also fun for adults (or at least tolerable)

"Clue" is always good.  I agree with the "Mancala" and "Apples to Apples" suggestions.

There is always poker and black jack too.  Get a set of chips and cards and there is always fun to be had.

There is a fun, unique board game called "Herd Your Horses" which is a hit with girls of all ages.  It's got a variety of ways to play and if your daughter is horse crazy all the better.

udarnik

about 11 years ago

Candyland is a portal into hell.

wildgoose

about 11 years ago

One of my goslings is getting a bit old for candy land but she still loves it and she has taken cards from 3 or more garage sale Candy Land games and put them together.  If you cull out some of the color cards and leave in the characters then the game jumps around a lot more at a faster pace (a la Sorry) and it is more interesting. Downside ... it may make it even longer but it can make it shorter, too.

TopOfTheHillMan

about 11 years ago

UNO!  Played for the first time in 30 years over Memorial weekend when I was stranded at a friends cabin and it was a blast.  Mindless, for adults easy for kiddies.

Danny G

about 11 years ago

As a multiple-time champion and member of the Twin Ports "Evil UNO" professional UNO league I have to say that I second TopOfTheHillMan's suggestion.

jxndyk

about 11 years ago

Totally agree - Apples to Apples is great, so is In a pickle, we like Would You Rather and Wise and Otherwise and Imaginiff

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