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Family Game Night Ideas

Cindy Burnett
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Play games

Burnett family favorites include: Cindy: Qwixx and Five Crowns; Michael: Five Crowns; Caroline (age 18): Phase 10; Emily (age 17): Codenames and 7 Ate 9; John (age 14): Sorry. 

Practicing social distancing translates to a lot of together time at home for families right now. Finding things to do to pass the time can be challenging. 

One thing my family really enjoys doing together is playing games. Every summer, we stay at the YMCA in the Rockies every summer, and we always pack a bag full of our current favorites to enjoy at the end of a day of hiking or to keep us occupied if it rains. We find that playing games can pass the time and keep everyone entertained for hours. 

I have compiled a list below of the games my family plays and put an asterisk by the ones that are family favorites in case people need additional things to do to fill the time at home right now.

Card games:

  • 7 Ate 9* (ages 8+) - A fast-paced and short card game that requires quick thinking.
  • Anomia (ages 10+) – People face off and race to provide an example from the given category.
  • Blink (ages 7+) – Similar to 7 Ate 9 but with symbols and colors instead of numbers.
  • Five Crowns* (ages 8+) (junior version available) - A five-suit rummy-style card game. 
  • Phase 10* (ages 7+) - The person who completes 10 varied phases first wins.
  • Rat-a-Tat-Cat* (ages 6+) – This game relies on suspense, strategy, and memory.
  • SET (ages 6+) – Players race to find sets of cards.
Burnett family

The Burnett family enjoys playing games together, such as Forbidden Island (pictured), a great activity especially while social distancing measures are in effect.

Board games and miscellaneous games:

  • Azul (8+) – A tile-placement game where players compete to place the most tiles and arrange them on their boards.
  • Bananagrams (7+) – Players race against each other to build crossword grids and use all of their letter tiles first.
  • Blokus (7+) – Players take turns placing pieces on a board – each piece must touch a piece of the same color but only at the corners – until they can no longer play.
  • Codenames* (12+) – Spymasters give one-word clues that point to their words on the board, and their teammates try to guess the right ones while avoiding the other team’s words and the assassin.
  • Forbidden Island (10+) – A cooperative game where players must work together to capture treasures and leave the island before it sinks.
  • Qwixx* (8+) – A dice game where players compete to get the most points by crossing off numbers from the die rolls.
  • Qwirkle* (6+) - Players build lines of tiles that are the same color and shape with no duplicates.
  • Sequence (7+) – Players play cards to place chips on the corresponding spaces on the board to try and get 5 in a row.
  • Sorry* (6+) – Players rush to be the first player to get all four pawns around the board and to their home base.
  • Ticket to Ride (additional add-on packs available) (8+) - This game is a cross-country adventure in which players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities in North America.

Party games:

  • Apples to Apples* (12+) (junior version available) – Players seek to make the best match to the judge’s description card.
  • Catch Phrase (12+) – A fast-paced game where players pass the game unit around, and no one wants to be stuck holding it when the time is up.
  • Chunky Monkey in the Middle* (10+) – Players rush to be the first to grab the monkey and fill in the blank with their best guess.
  • Scattegories* (12+) – Players or teams compete to write the most words in each category starting with a particular letter.
  • Yahtzee (8+) – Players roll 5 dice and try to complete their score sheet with the most points.

And of course, I cannot end this article without a book suggestion. Several years ago, Tristan Donovan wrote a book called It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan in which he provides the history of certain popular games and some fascinating details about each of those games. It was a fun read.

Here’s to spending quality family time together while staying at home. 

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