The Basics

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Getting Started

Getting a Family Game Night together sounds easy right? Grab the kids and some games, sit down at the table and play. However, as easy as that is, building a tradition of Family Game Night goes much further beyond that.

The purpose of this site is to help families come together and have successful game nights that lead to the many benefits available. I will work with you to help you learn the various subtleties that will lead to a successful game night.

We will learn about the various types of games available and learn how to choose what will work best for your family. Getting the right games for your family is critical in having a successful game night.

We will also look into a few other things such as:

· How to take care of dinner & snacks.
· How frequent should game nights be?
· What are house rules and why are they important?
· How to choose games
· How to deal with and avoid conflicts.
· As well as other variables!

I am looking forward to our journey together and if you ever have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to ask!

For a more advanced solution on where to start, check out this post.

Types of Games

I believe that when most people think of a Family Game Night, that they see a family sitting around a table playing a board game. While that certainly is a part of it, there is much more waiting around the corner!

Game Types:

· Board GamesPlaying Cards
· Card Games
· Domino or Tile Games
· Dice Games
· Role Playing Games
· Video Games
· Computer Games
· Outdoor Games
· Indoor Games
· Any many more!

Family Game Night does not have to be limited to any one type. As a matter fact I will show you how to incorporate many different types of games into your family’s night.

I will ask that as you think about the above list to not jump to any conclusions about them. Take the time here to find out what they are and how they might be a beneficial game for you and your family. What works best, might just surprise you!

Time/Length

Game TimerIt is very important to set clear time frames for your Family Game Night. You need to make sure everyone gets a chance to play their game when they expect to as well as make sure that other priorities are not impacted.

Firstly, some games can drag on and on without coming to a conclusion. You will want to set a clear time limit and a clear way of determining a winner. Make sure that these limits are discussed and agreed upon by everyone prior to starting the game. A good example of this is the card game WAR! I learned really quickly when my kids decided they liked to play this game a lot that you need to set up a time limit on it as it can literarily go on for hours!

Next you will want to make sure that everyone gets time to play the games that they want to play. Knowing the time it takes to play a game is very important and will help with scheduling. Most games will tell you what the expected game time will be and others will come with experience.

Lastly, learn to be a little flexible with time and use those opportunities to teach your children to be flexible as well. Do you best to keep it fair to all and you will have a great time!

Food & Snacks

Family Game Night should be all about game night and not cooking a big dinner. It can be hard to take the time to cook a meal and still have enough time to play the games. Having a quick type of meal such as pizza, subs, or tacos can help keep things simple and flexible.

It is also very important to pay attention to what games you will be playing and how well that will mix with your food and or snacks. You might not want to eat any snack that gets all over your fingers and then transfers to all over your game pieces. Also, watch out for greasy foods and make sure to wash your hands after eating them.

Having snacks out for while you are gaming is very important. It can help keep minds from wandering too far and can be a great way of getting the kids to eat healthy. I have found that when someone is not a huge fan of the current game they are playing, that a snack is an easy way to tide them over until the next game.

Some great snack ideas are:

· GrapesAppetizers
· Apples
· Bananas
· Crackers
· Pretzels
· Cheese
· Chips (be careful of the grease!)
· Nachos
· And many more!

Frequency

Having a Family Game Night can be a great family experience. However, if you do it too much too often, it can end up burning people out. As with anything, keeping it in moderation is best.

Typically from my experience, I have found that once a week is a solid base for a Family Game Night. Picking out a night that works for the family every week and sticking to it as best as possible is what works best. Having an occasional extra night or taking a night off is ok, but do your best to keep it regular. Remember at first it may be a little harder, but after time it will become a routine.
If the need arises to need to make a change of plans, do your best to give plenty of fair warning. Also, make sure that you reschedule right away. By doing this you will mute any disappointments that will happen. Remember, kids will be anticipating Game Night and you will want to have a plan in place for rescheduling versus just canceling.

House Rules

House Rules are they way that you and your family play certain games. Everyone is a little different in the way that they enjoy games or how much time they have to play them. Having a clear set of House Rules can certainly help with having a successful Family Game Night.

House rules can be used in a variety of ways:

· Modifying the length of a game or setting a time limit.
· Changing, adding, or removing rules.
· Setting requirements to win a game.
· Adding in handicaps for certain players.
· Adding in silly things or twists that your family enjoys.

Using house rules to change a game are ok, but also don’t feel like you have to change every game. A lot of games leave room for change, but just as many can easily be “broken” by changing the rules. Experimentation here will be the key for you and your family.

Happy Family

How to Choose

Choosing what games are available and then choosing what to play is a very important part of having a successful Family Game Night. You will want to have a nice variety of games to choose from as well adding to that mix when you can. Also, having a plan in place for picking the games each night is key.

Firstly, I would recommend that you make a list of all the games you have available to play. You can keep it simple and just list everything or you can break it down into different categories. With categories it can help with choosing games more quickly. For example; if you only have a little bit of time left, you can choose just of the short game list.

Categories:

· Short Games
· Medium Games
· Long Games
· Outdoor Games
· Indoor Games

Next, having a plan in place for who gets to choose and in what order is another vital key to having a successful Family Game Night. It is best to give each child a chance to pick a game each night, however if you have a bunch of kids it can be a bit more challenging. I recommend a set order that you rotate through, so that way if someone doesn’t get a choice one night, they will be up to pick the next night you get together.

You can also have a lot of fun with who gets to choose or what order that choices happen. Feel free to experiment and try different things. Maybe you play a game to see what order is used, or maybe you just do Paper, Rock, Scissors. Remember this is Family Game Night, have fun with it!

Dealing with Conflicts

Dealing With ConflictUnfortunately conflicts are sure to pop up on occasion even with the best of plans. Having a plan in place before hand on how you will handle them though will be key. This can in the long run be a great tool for a parent to help teach their children.

First off, remember that you are the parent and they are the kids, you need to stay calm and set a positive example for them. Try to settle things quickly and calmly at the table. However if the conflict is escalated, take the individual off to the side and talk to them. Don’t forget to let them tell you why they are upset, give them that opportunity to give you their opinion.

Good things to help avoid conflicts:

· Making sure the rules of the game are clearly stated & understood by all.
· Having a fair schedule or system set up in advance.
· Give everyone their opportunity to speak their opinion. Communicate!
· Reward system in place for keeping cool.

Remember, everyone likes different things and sometimes might just be having an off day. The whole purpose of Family Game Night is to have fun!

Reward System

I can hear my kids saying it now, “You always pick that game!” Kids get tired of certain games or whatever, but having a system in place to reward good behavior could just be the motivation that the kids need.

You can have a lot of fun with the reward system or you can keep it very simple. I would recommend having a reward list that kids can choose off of. That way you still have control of what the rewards are, while giving the child their choice still.

Some ideas:

· A bedtime snack.
· Computer time
· Video Game time.
· TV time.
· Money!

Be creative and have fun with it! Remember this is a simple tool that can be used to great affect.

Varied AgesVaried Ages

Dealing with varied ages of children can be a bit of a challenge. Whether you have children young and old or are just trying to start something with older kids, we will figure it out.

Having a family game night with all younger children will probably be the easiest to get started, as most children love to play games and spend time with their parents. As kids get older this can be a bit harder as their tastes begin to change. The most important thing to remember here is to be patient and to listen to your children.

When it comes to having a mixed group of young an old it is important that everyone is engaged. Now obviously your teens are not going to want to play little kids games all the time and it may not be possible for the younger kids to play the kinds of games that the older ones want to play. This is where scheduling your time will come in handy. Perhaps break the night into two parts, earlier for the younger kids and then some time for the older kids after. I would however still recommend that the older kids still play with then younger ones as it is still important bonding time.

If you have any questions about the Basics I would love to help! Just ask below! Also please feel free to share any tips you may have!

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19 Replies to “The Basics”

    • David, I appreciate the positive feedback. I still have so much to share and so many games to talk about. I hope that I will be a valuable asset for your family.

  1. Don’t have any kids myself, but I see how this is well-documented. You really touch the auxiliaries here, like food and timing, it’s just as important as the games themselves. Hopefully something for grown-ups soon too?

  2. I went through your site really great work and very simple and easy explanation, easy to understand.
    Thanks for sharing beautifully 🙂

    • Never fear Mike, Once kids hit three they are about to really come into their own and the games will just get better and better. Also, don’t forget simple games like Hide & Seek, which can be a lot of fun with the younger ones.

  3. Wow I had no idea so many details went into planning a family night. But I’m glad I saw this page as it def helped put a lot of this into perspective!

    • Thanks! That is one of the main reason I chose to do a site like this as there are so many details. Just being aware of them can really help a family have a good Family Game Night.

  4. Great tips! I’ll think a game night is a great way to bond as a family. Like you said though, too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing!

    • Thanks for the input. I look forward to providing more interesting details for you. If you ever have any questions, comments, or tips please let me know.

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