14 Ideas for Family Night Games


We had just moved to Quebec to learn French.  Our six children ranged from ages 3-13, five boys and one little girl.  Those are important facts because game time with five boys is a lot different from game time with five girls.

Anyway, we were playing Upset the Fruit Basket – one of our favorites.  It is easy to set up, no major rules, and tends to get wild.

This night, Lee hit his head against a corner of the wall as he dived for a chair.  The house shook.  I thought he would be knocked out, but really only a pretty sizable gash was the result.

We were new to the country.  Going to the doctor was out of the question (didn’t know where one was, didn’t know how to say what we wanted).

I am a nurse.  I can handle this, but where to find bandages?  My husband went out, wandered around until he found some bandages, and we taped Lee back together.


Fast forward about ten years and it is another family night in Africa.  We are again playing Upset the Fruit Basket.  This time our guests are playing with us.

Now my boys are big strapping guys, and our guests happen to be a husband and wife in their sixties.  Do I need to defend why we thought this was going to be a good mix.  Well, I didn’t see it coming, but now that I look back…dahhhh!

During an all-out upset-the-fruit-basket scramble, Mrs. D was involved in a crash of bodies.  She fell onto the tiled floor.  Her hip snapped.  THAT was a night to remember.  In a village, in Africa, at night, with an elderly lady, with a broken hip.  Not good.

I really could go on for some time about memories, but here are some family night game ideas for you:

Simple, classic games

  1. Upset-the-Fruit-Basket
  2. Musical Chairs
  3. Simon Says
  4. Hide and Seek (my personal favorite)

If you think these games are for kids, you haven’t tried playing them recently.

Card games and board games

We tended to like games that didn’t involve a lot of thinking.  This was family night, not school.  There are so many games that are available.  Our closet was full of them, and we used them regularly.  Listed are links to purchase the games on Amazon.

  1. Pit – We played with spoons in the middle of the table (or underneath!) for the winner to grab instead of ringing a bell or shouting “Corner on wheat!”
  2. Dutch Blitz – A great game where there is no waiting for “your turn.”
  3. Old Maid – Always requested because Daddy was so good at making you think HE had the Old Maid.
  4. Rook – And variations was great when the kids got older.

Made-up Games

The best game were made up by Dad and Mom.

  1. Pillow Throw

When the children were very young, we piled up every stuffed animal and pillow in the house at Daddy’s side.  Then the kids lined up.  They ran from one point to another.  If Dad could hit them with a pillow, they were out.

     2.  Flashlight Finder

A very, very favorite was Dad hiding, turn off the lights, and the kids look for him with flashlights.  Believe me, when they found him, the flashlights were dropped and a mad scramble followed.

     3.  Bottle Cap Soccer

We have played “soccer” with bottle caps on the floor and your finger flicking them.

     4.  Tin Foil Football

We have played “football” on the table with a wad of paper or tin foil where everyone blows through straws to get the paper wad to the goal.

     5.  Hidden Spoon

Hiding a spoon around the front room is simple but fun when blindfolded boys, crawling on their knees, try to find the spoon. Or it can also be a race where two of them are blindfolded, each led by another sibling giving orders “left!” and “right!” and “straight!”

Any Age Group Game – Sardines!

All-time favorite.  If you’ve never played it, try it!  Played at night, it involves dark rooms, hiding, and maybe some damaged furniture.  But I have never had any age group turn down the chance to play Sardines.


There were so many good times, so much activity, so many memories.  The key: being together, having a good time.


2 thoughts on “14 Ideas for Family Night Games

  1. One of our family favorites with young children: Best done at night. Put children in one room with door shut. Take all the stuffed animals and hide them throughout the rest of the house (mostly on eye level). Turn off lights. Give each child a flashlight. The one who found the most, gets to hide them next.


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