New Years Resolution: Spend more time with the family.
Sounds good, right? But how exactly are you going to *do* that? Everyone has such busy schedules, people are wiped after a long day of school or work. And watching a movie is not exactly quality time spent together.
Family Game Night is the perfect answer!
Family Game Night is an event you can schedule and plan on. It is something people look forward to and enjoy. And it is a structured activity that doesn't require any extra planning. Just open the box and have fun!
Here are a handful of tips that are going to get your game night up and running in no time.
Step 1: Get Everyone Excited
First, let's get everyone on board with the Family Game Night idea. I'm sure not every kid loves the idea of "mandatory fun with parents", so let's make sure it doesn't feel that way!
Games should be a pretty easy sell to the kids. They are definitely fun, and our experience is that most kids will enjoy a game if they give it a chance. One way to interest a reluctant kid is to pick a theme they are naturally drawn to, like animals, fantasy, space, adventure, or science fiction.
If you are having trouble getting older teens or adults eager for game night, tell them why it is a good thing for your group: you aren't just watching another show, you are not glued to a screen, and it is an interesting activity that doesn't require a lot of money or travel time. Sell them on the benefits of gaming. The fun will come later on.
Step 2: Set a Time
Now you need to find a time that works for everyone. Compare schedules and commitments and see if there is a time slot that emerges. The key here is not only finding a time that works with regularity, so that you can get into the habit of having game night, but also establishing game night as a priority. This is your family's equivalent to an after school club or date night, and it should be as important as one of those things. If it is not, it may fall to the wayside as the collective group bumps it lower down the list of priorities.
This is ideally put on a calendar that everyone can see and plan for. Whether you are techno-savvy and have a shared calendar on everyone's phones, or simply writing it on the calendar that hangs in the kitchen, it is helpful to everyone involved if they have that reminder of when family game night is.
Step 3: Choose a Game
If I am being honest, the easiest way to pick out a game for your group is to come into Fair Game and have us give you a few recommendations for your specific group. We will ask you about the age range, the number of people, and the kinds of games or activities your group enjoys. Then we will offer up some suggestions, and oftentimes one or two of those suggestions will jump out to you as the right game for your family.
You will want to find a game that the youngest person can play and enjoy. Ideally you are choosing something that everyone else like to play, too, which can be tricky with lower-elementary-aged kids in the mix. We would recommend choosing an active game that is pretty intuitive, like Root Beer Float Challenge or Buildzi, for mixed age groups with children, or a party game where young kids can be on the same team as someone else, such as Reverse Charades or Pictures. Cooperative games like Just One or Forbidden Island are also good because everyone is inherently on the same team and players will help the younger members at the table.
If it is just you and some younger children, we would recommend some games designed for kids but that are actually fun: Rhino Hero (ages 5+), Outfoxed! (5+), Dragomino (6+), Brandon the Brave (5+), Ticket to Ride First Journey (6+), or My First Carcassonne.
Many board games these days go up to 5 or even 6 players, although some are limited to 4. Some of our favorite games to recommend to families of 5 or more players are Sushi Roll (5), Point Salad (6), Tiny Towns (6), and Trekking the National Parks (5).
To round out our recommendations, we have a fair few games for teens and older that would like a bit of strategy. The ones I recommend most regularly are Wingspan, Sagrada, Barenpark, Oceans, and Smash Up.
4. Prepare for Game Night
If you want to get Game Night off on the right foot, there are a few things you can do to prepare for it. Where are you playing? Do you need anything from outside the game to make it easier to play, like bowls for holding pieces? Do you want any snacks? How long will the game take, and do you need to get anything done before you start?
The most important thing, in our opinion, is to have one of the adults learn the game ahead of time. This is because it is much faster and easier to learn a game when someone else is teaching you, instead of reading the rulebook like it is story time. Younger players (and some adults!) will have their eyes glaze over, and any excitement you have built up can be lost. Rulebooks are not exactly exciting reads, but there are also a lot of great videos out there that can get you up to speed on a new game quickly.
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.
5. Limit Distractions
Family Game Night is a group activity, so anything that detracts someone from engaging with the game can affect everyone else's enjoyment. Be sure to establish the expectation that there are no phones at the table. Turn off the TV in the background. No, Aiden, you can't do your homework during the game. This is the time to set aside the other things you have going on and make sure the time you are spending at the table is quality time.
**6. Have Fun!
Your bonus tip is to make sure you are having fun! It sounds like it would be an afterthought, but it can be easy to forget. Sometimes you should simply make a call on a ruling that everyone agrees with instead of looking it up in the book. And maybe you bend the rules slightly to make sure the kids are having a good time.
Also, not every person is going to enjoy every game. It is okay if a game doesn't resonate with someone. Don't be afraid to shelve a game after playing it and trying a new one next time.
Hopefully all this information has gotten you inspired! There is so much to enjoy with Family Game Night, especially in this time of smartphones and social media. Make the effort to get your game night off the ground, and you will treasure these memories for years to come!