Our Picks: Top 5 Games for a Family Night
"Rest and play are as vital to our health as nutrition and exercise." ~ Brene Brown
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About a year ago, Adam wrote an essay about our favorite 5 children’s books. As our kids are growing, in addition to reading, we have also been able to start playing games as a family. The age spread makes it a fun challenge to find games that all four of us can participate in and find interesting as the three year age difference is pretty big in the under/over 5 year old category.
Luckily though, with trial and error, we have been able to have awesome Friday game nights - which has been a nice addition to the rotation of movie nights and Mario Party.
Before getting into the actual games, I’ll call out 2 things:
As a student of Brene Brown and Gretchen Rubin, I have been reading more and more on how important it is to have “play” in your life.
So as the kids are getting older, I am trying to find time and space for us to play together. So having family game nights is as much for them as it is for me and my sanity.
With that in mind, the main criteria for what made this list is inclusivity. The games on this list have to work for kids under 10 and games Adam and I look forward to playing.
It’s pretty easy to find games for 7-8 year olds, but often they are not good for 4-5 year olds (Catan Junior, Sushi Go) and vice versa - there are games that our younger child is really into but the older one is past (Candyland, Yeti in My Spaghetti). So striking the right balance is important so we can have fun as a family.
So here is the list:
Great game introduced to us by friends a few years ago. It has a bit of strategy, a little bit of math and fun queen names (the Moon queen is the family favorite). Kids are able to play this game on their own and we enjoy it as a family too.
Duration: 15 minutes
This is a recently addition to our repertoire. It’s cleverly named - Don’t Let Llamas and Markers Accumulate - and fun for all ages. Adam got introduced to this game through his game friends and we played it on a date night. Now it’s family favorite and is teaching kids good lessons on sportsmanship, patience and perseverance.
Duration: 20 minutes
A great cooperative game in the “who’s done it” category. A family favorite - requires mostly rolling the dice and working together to decide on what kind of clues are best to get to solve the game.
Game premise: Plumpert's prized pot pie has gone missing and it's now a chicken chase to crack the case! Move around the board to gather clues and then use the special evidence scanner to rule out suspects. You'll have to work together quickly because the guilty fox is high-tailing it towards the exit!
Duration: 30 minutes
Many people now play this on their phones (Heads Up) but the classic works great for a family. One person puts a word on their forehead and asks everyone else yes or no questions to figure out what the word is. We skip the timer part of this game and just take turns. It’s great to see kids develop an ability to ask questions as well as not give away the answers.
Duration: You choose, we usually do it in 20 minute increments
Codenames - Disney Version
I discovered Codenames during the Pandemic in 2020 and have enjoyed playing it online with co-workers. So I was thrilled when I found the Disney version of this that is family friendly. The cards are double sided - with pictures on one side and words on the other, which unlocks this game for us because we have a reader and a non-reader.
Duration: 20 minutes
As you can see, all these games do not require a huge time investment and are a mix of cooperative and competitive games. I’m curious what you all are playing as a family that we can add to our inventory.
A Coda on Privilege
A theme of this newsletter/blog is exploring privilege, allyship, and social progress and what it means to modern living and better leadership. I want to call out an independnt board games shop in the Pacific Northwest that sells board games as well as creates a fun environment and ability to play games with friends: Mox Boarding House. They carry most of the games I called out here, have a location in Seattle, Bellevue and Portland and have same day delivery options.
Great choices. We had Sleeping Queens for years (step up from that is Scopa; I think our favorite queen was the Cat Queen and the Cake Queen). We still play Outfoxed even though my kids are older. Rat a Tat is another
good one for all ages. Consider 7 Wonders and Ticket To Ride in about 4-5 years. On vacations, we don't take electronics but we take games. Try it. :)