Family game night is a great way to spend quality time together, however, getting everyone excited and engaged can be a challenge. As veteran gamers and busy parents we love to have game nights with friends but run into the same challenges as other busy families. With our calendars so full there are some strategies we have come up with. These are our top tips for making family game night a success.

For ideas for games to play to best fit your players we have quite a few resources. Check out the Engaged Family Gaming Board Game Essentials for our recommendations of some of the best family games. If you are looking for the best games for a child, we can help you target their strengths by age.

Make game nights more interesting by having a theme. For suggestions on themes and tips for creating your own theme check out: Creating a Board Game Night With Fun Themes.

How Often To Meet?

There are two ways to approach meeting up. One way is to create a regular schedule, for example the first Saturday of each month. This is great for families and game groups who have a very consistent schedule. Another strategy that has worked for our group is to schedule the next game night before everyone leaves. This allows flexibility with everyone’s crazy schedules, but commits the date to the calendar. What we have found, even if something comes up and the date needs to be changed by having something on the calendar, the commitment is already there.

Game Selection Tips

Everyone should be involved in the game selection process. Typically we have each family bring games to playing. Once people arrive we decide what games to play. While our group has never had a problem agreeing on a game to play, if there is disagreement there are a few strategies to come to an agreement.

Strategies to decide on a game:

  • Players can vote on the game they want to play.
  • Flip a coin as a tiebreaker
  • Make a plan of which are most desired to play and choose the order to play the games.

Strategies to Streamline Learning New Games

Some games require more time to learn. What our group does is selecting a more complicated game ahead of time. Then anyone interested in playing it can watch a how its played video or review the rulebook first. Recently we did that with Everdell. As a mid-weight game, there are quite a few rules to know. Of the four of us who played, three of the four had taken steps to learn the game in advance. The fourth player was a last minute addition to game night. With the head start learning the rules, it really sped up the time to review the rule and we got into playing so much faster.

Another approach to learning new game is you can all learn it together. This works well if the game has simple or more streamline rules. With more complicated games, there might be more of a time investment.

Finally, one person can study the rule book or use watch a how it’s played video to learn the game in advance and be the designated teacher for the game. There are a few of us in our game group that take on this role when playing new games. We will take time in advance of either the game night or the play time of the session to begin learning the game and then be the guide if questions or clarifications come up.

Keep The Space Comfortable and Fun

Forbidden Island Game play

When selecting a location for a game night having the space set up for is key. That said, you do not need a huge space. Small gaming spots may better suit your space. With game nights we tend to have at least two to three spaces available. By spreading out the spaces, it allows a few games to happen at once.

Regardless on the size of your space and the number of game tables available, having enough seating is important. That way no one feels left out and can not play if they wish. In the spaces set up having good lighting is crucial. If the light is yellow or another color it make make reading the cards or deciphering colors more difficult.

Collaborating on food can make for a festive event. Depending on the time of day snacks may be all that is needed or a meal may be involved. Whatever food and drink is available, make sure it is easy to prepare, set up, and to eat. The idea is for everyone to be able to play, and complicated food or drinks can take away from the game time.

Final Thoughts

Game nights are a great way to get friends and family together. The event can be as simple or complicated as you wish to make it. Though I recommend keeping it simple. We are so busy day to day a game night is a great break in the hectic days. These tips will help you to have a relaxing gaming session.

By Linda Wrobel

Managing Editor: Board Games Mother, Educator, and Board Game Editor.

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