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Tips for Starting a Family Board Game Night

Tips for Starting a Family Board Game Night

The benefits of playing a board game as a family are far-reaching but if you are not experienced with playing a variety of games, how do you get started? We've got a few suggestions to help!

Tips for Starting a Family Board Game Night

Gaming with your family is a great experience. Not only is it fun, but it gives everyone a chance to unplug, connect with each other and share some great experiences.

If you’ve long thought about starting your own family board game night but weren’t sure where to start, we’ve got a few helpful pointers. 

Whether you are a long-time gamer looking to branch out with the family, or simply looking for another way to connect, a family board game night is always a great choice.

Step 1: Choose the right game

The first step is always going to be trying to figure out what game(s) to play. As much as you might love Magic: The Gathering or Star Wars: Rebellion, those aren’t always the best games for a family game night (at least to start out with). You want to look at “gateway games.” You might have heard of Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne or Pandemic. These are games that not only have easy to learn rules and smooth gameplay but help lay the foundation for games with more depth later on.  In our store, you’ll find many of these titles under the “Modern Classics” section.

Ticket to Ride and Sushi Go! Are excellent first choices. Both are very easy to learn and have engaging gameplay. Alternatively, if you are looking for a game with a bit more conflict and love dice, then check out King of Tokyo. If you think your family might be interested in working together, Pandemic and Forbidden Island are both great cooperative board games. Finally, if bluffing is more your style, then check out Sheriff of Nottingham

But the absolute best way to find a game is to head down to Fair Game and browse our shelves. Take your family with you and see what catches their eye. Perhaps there is a theme or box cover that really draws them in. Our friendly staff can also help steer you in the right direction if you’d like some suggestions. Often, we will have a demo copy available so you might even be able to find an open table and try it out on the spot!

The easiest approach would be to keep an eye out for our “Family Game Night Approved” stickers on a variety of games around the store!  Any of these will be a great option for families looking to try something new. 

Step 2: Pick a night

We are all busy people with time being at a premium. Your best bet to make sure game night happens is to pick a night and put it on the family calendar. We’ve found that if something is scheduled in writing, it not only is much more likely to happen, but people actively look forward to it as it draws closer. Also, make sure to book out at least an hour so no one feels rushed. But don’t be surprised if people are having so much fun that it goes longer than that.

Once you get one game night under your belt, try and make it at a reoccurring time. Perhaps every other Wednesday might work for your family, or the first Tuesday of every month. Start off slow and then work towards getting a more regular night as people enjoy themselves.

Step 3: Try and Limit the Distractions

Try to schedule your game night when you know everyone will be free. Choosing a time slot during a Chicago Bears game or on a night when the kids have lots of homework is just asking for distractions. Once everyone is ready, put the phones away (or better yet, in the other room), have some snacks and drinks easily accessible, and just try and focus on the game.

Step 4: Learn the Game Ahead of Time

Someone needs to take on the responsibility of learning the rules and teaching the rest of the group. Nothing is worse than having someone read a rulebook verbatim to the group and seeing everyone’s eyes glaze over. The teacher should not only read the rulebook ahead of time, but possibly play a few sample turns on their own. Having a solid understanding of how the game is played allows you to quickly and efficiently explain the rules to the players. Also, try and focus on just the important rules they need to know upfront, and handle any of the more obscure rule situations as they come up. The sooner you can get people playing, the better.

Step 5: Above All, Have Fun!

Not every game is going to be a hit with every person. The key is that you are all trying a new experience and it’s ok if a game doesn’t resonate with someone. Once the game is over, don’t be afraid to shelve it and play something else. You want everyone to be engaged and enjoying themselves.

Any other tips that you’ve found helpful with establishing a Family Game Night? We would love to hear them! 


  1. Mike S Mike S

    Actually, we schedule our board game time during Bears games. That way, we know no one will be paying attention to the Bears game by the end of the first quarter and will be fully focused on the game

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