Why is family game night such a good idea? First of all, it’s a fun way for families to spend time together. Games allow you to compete, show off skills and learn sportsmanship. They encourage family communication. Family game night is like a mini-vacation where everyone can enjoy each other’s company -- and make memories that will last forever.
Here’s how to make your game night something you look forward to all week:
Clear the books. Make this an important date. This sends a good message about family priorities, and it gives everyone something to anticipate.
Keep it to the family. You may want to make other game evenings when you invite guests, but for this night, make sure it’s all about your immediate family. This fosters communication, comfort and helps everyone build a strong sense of family identity.
No interruptions. Let the machine get phone calls, turn off your cell and PDA, and make sure all homework is done beforehand.
Choose the right game. Make sure that everyone can enjoy playing the game, and let different family members choose the game. In fact, you might share the duties of being “in charge” of the night so that everyone gets a turn to create the event. (Of course mom and dad can assist the youngest players.)
Vary the games you play. It doesn’t really matter what you play, as long as everyone can feel like a participant. But balance games of skill with games of luck so that everyone gets a chance to do something they’re good at -- and improve the odds of having a winning night.
Use this as a teaching time. Family game night is a great time to reinforce things like manners, being a good sport, taking turns and other social skills that children will need as they grow up and go out in the world. This can all be done with good humor in the context of the game play and the family, and it gives kids a chance to practice these positive behaviors.
Different Options for Different Ages
Well, the sky’s the limit. Bear in mind that all good games have a few things in common: they’re easy to understand, they’re different every time they’re played, and they take an appropriate amount of time. For younger kids, games that you can play several times in an evening are ideal. Older kids may enjoy a game of Monopoly that can take the whole evening. In all cases, make sure that everyone feels involved and engaged in the process. If you’re trying out a new game, you might want to have an old favorite as a back-up in case the new one isn’t right for your family.
Game Types for Every Family
Now, the fun part: playing! With over 5,000 games on the market at any time, the choice can by dizzying, but here are some ideas:
Classics The advantage to these is that everyone knows them, or almost -- and they’ve stood the test of time. Check age gradings, but some suggestions are: Monopoly, Clue, Sorry, Othello, Battleship, Boggle, Parcheesi, Operation, Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Trouble, Sorry, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit. Many of these have special interest editions now.
Strategy Games These games are great for families that like a little more substance to their games. Often story-based, one of the best we’ve seen this year is Parthenon from Z-Man Games where players race to build their civilizations.
Multi-Faceted Games These are games that combine different kinds of skills. Great for diverse families where everyone gets a chance to shine. For older kids and adults, check out Cranium. Cranium Family Fun, Hoopla and Whonu? work for the whole family.
DVD Games Definitely one of the hottest trends in the whole game business Our favorite is Scene It? from Mattel in different versions that cover movies, TV, music, sports and Harry Potter. Pop in the DVD and you simply play along. Choose the version that’s right for the group you’re playing with.
Skill and Action Games For when you just want to have some silly fun. Try Captain Bones Gold from Spin Master, and Ker-Plunk from Mattel. These are great for kids with tons of energy, and the different outcomes keep families engaged.
Have a fun and relaxing time together!