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When money is tight, or the weather is just not cooperating, you often find yourself cooped up at home. And when you have kids that are on school break, that can only be a recipe for disaster.
From cries of boredom, to fights over the stupidest crap, it’s a wonder you have stayed sane. Well, that is, IF you have stayed sane.
On our every day routines we have little to no time for family entertainment, mostly because of crazy schedules, dance lessons, school functions, etc. But when we do, we like to get together, and spend some time beating each other up… playing a fun board game 😉
Over the years, we have collected an insane amount of games. Some we have outgrown, like Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, Don’t Spill the Beans, and even some dumb game my oldest daughter just had to have, called High School Musical 3, Mystery Date. (Yes, it is just as dumb as it sounds, but her Troy Bolton heart called the shots).
Anyway, I have compiled a list of what we think are the best family board games for family night. But only the ones we own AND play, and that we consider our very favorites. Check it out, and make sure you take a look at them. I promise, you will have tons of fun whenever you play any of these games as a family 🙂
Best Family Board Games for Game Night
Nothing can be more fun than playing Scrabble with your family. You’d be amazed at how crafty they can all get in order to win. I have seen more made up words during a Scrabble session, than anywhere else, I swear.
Even if you have younger members in the family, know that a friendly game of Scrabble is not just fun. It’s super educational. Scrabble helps with spelling, learning new vocabulary, and of course, reading.
Want to make it even more fun? Add a dictionary to the mix! Have one by your side when you play. When someone invents a word, and another player wants to challenge it because they are sure it it NOT a word, look it up! If it’s not in the dictionary, then the person who challenged the word gets a point, or however many points you decide beforehand. However, if it is indeed a word, then the challenger loses a point. Fun, right?
The Game of Life
Aaahhh The fabulous Game of Life! Where you get to have a career, get married, have children, get life insurance, and so much more! This is quite fun to play with family, and gives a tiny taste of what life is really like, even if it’s just pretend, and once the game is over you suffer no real life consequences.
There are several versions of this game, but this old one is what we prefer. In fact, the box where our game came is sooo beat up, that I decided to just buy a new one to replace it. Well, that didn’t go over very well. It turns out that the newer versions not only encourage taking out student loans as a normal part of life, but make it inevitable.
As a family who has student loans crawling out of our ears, we just couldn’t have that. I am definitely not busting my tushy teaching our kids the importance of avoiding those like the plague to have some game tell them otherwise. So, I sold the new one, and taped the box of the old one as best I could. It works just fine. We’ll manage.
Harry Potter Scene it?
This is definitely a must-have for any Harry Potter fan! As a self-proclaimed top fan of anything Harry Potter, I can tell you, I love love love this game! Even when I don’t feel like playing anything, I find it almost impossible to tell my kids no.
In the game, you get to guess who is in the blurry image, answer questions of all sorts of things, even Muggle questions (which are hard!), among other quests. You need a DVD player to play this game, so make sure you have one nearby.
UNO! This is by far the best card game ever! It’s basically a card matching game, but what makes it fun is that you can match color, number, skip an opponent, or make them draw cards. We have several sets of UNO cards (Yes, several. My daughter has one she takes to her college apartment; we keep one at the grandparents house in the board game closet for when we come over for the weekend; we have a regular set at home as well, and of course, I have the UNO Harry Potter, because us crazy fans are like that.
Our favorite though, is the UNO Splash. It is just like the regular UNO, but the cards are plastic. Our original set of UNO Splash got pretty beat up after over 10 YEARS of faithful service, and so we retired it, and bought a new one.
The best thing about UNO Splash is that, since the cards are plastic, they are water resistant. And if your family is anything like mine, you know that chances of a water bottle being set way too close to the cards is high, and so a regular card will just get wet, and therefore damaged.
With UNO Splash you don’t ever have to worry about that. The reason why ours needed to retire is that, after years of being manhandled, on sweaty, and sticky hands, the colors were fading quite a bit. In fact, we always needed very good lightning to play, since the green and the blue looked about the same.
Nevertheless, UNO Splash is the best UNO cards version out there. Take it on car trips, camping, to the beach, or wherever else your life takes you. That’s what we do.
Harry Potter Chess
Just like with UNO Splash, we also own several sets of Chess. Over the years, we have bought a few different ones. My son has a glass set that he loves. We have a simple one at the grandparents, and, my Harry Potter obsessed self just HAD to have the Harry Potter version, which my husband got for me years ago.
Chess is loads of fun. The only down side to it is that it’s only for 2 people. However, it is one of the go-to games for my son, when his little sister insists he plays any game with her.
She is 9 years old now, and no expert in the game, but my son taught her, and she has got a better the more she plays it. Chess is a game of strategy, and requires silence to think, and concentrate, which, to be honest, my little one benefits from.
Playing chess doesn’t necessarily lead to tons of family laughter, but is highly entertaining, and engaging.
Harry Potter Scene it?
You might be thinking: Another Harry Potter Scene It? game? Well, yes, another one. Just as fun, and as entertaining as the other one, with different questions, but the exact same concept.
My Harry Potter obsession knows no limits, and I just had to have this version of the game as well.
There is one version of the Harry Potter Scene It? games that includes the whole cinematic journey, but the price is a bit steep, so I’m holding off on that one. For now.
Hungry Hungry Hippos
As a young child, this one was one of my favorite games! My dear Grandma and her cousin, who cared for me while my Mom worked, played board games with me all the time. And this one was on my top 10 for sure.
The object of the game is simple: to make your hippo eat as many balls as possible. When all the balls are gone, the one with the most, wins. Simple, and fun!
I remember frantically pushing down the lever as a child, and I have not changed a bit. My hippo eats lots and lots every time 😉 And because it takes only a couple minutes to play a round of Hungry Hungry Hippos, you can bet we play it over 10 times on one sitting.
This is one of the few young child board games that I still enjoy a lot, and do not mind one bit when my daughter pulls it out.
B.I.N.G.O. As much as I loved singing that song when I was a child, I love the game even more. This was possibly my Grandma’s favorite, and thus we played it a lot.
We tried several variations of the game, from winning with only one line of called numbers, to filling the whole card. And for me, it never got old.
To play, simply pick one person to call the numbers as they come out of the cage. If the number called is in your card, cover it with a chip. Do this every time. The person who wins is the one who has 1 complete line covered in chips, and calls out BINGO!
The winning BINGO line could be horizontal, vertical or diagonal. Or, you could always try other variations, like X shaped, outer rows only, or even the whole card. Whichever way you choose, Bingo is easy to learn, and fun to play.
If you love solving mysteries, then Clue is definitely the game for you! In Clue, all players are in charge of solving the mystery of a murder.
While setting up the game, three random cards with a place, a person, and a weapon are hidden in a small envelope, without anyone knowing which cards are there. Then, all remaining cards are split among all players.
By making simple, and carefully thought out guesses, you start the process of elimination, until you feel ready to reveal who, where, and with what was the crime committed. If you guessed right, you solved the murder, and won the game.
Twilight Scene it?
By now you might have guessed that I’m sort of partial about Scene It? games. What you probably don’t know is that I am also a Twilight fan. Not as dedicated as with Harry Potter. I mean, I LIVE Harry Potter. Twilight is just love.
Anyway, this Twilight Scene It? game is pretty much the same as the Harry Potter versions, but Twilight themed. Obviously.
My family has watched those movies to death, and I have read the entire book collection many times, so we are pretty familiar with the story line, and that makes this a fun game to play.
Chinese Checkers is another one of those super old games, that have somehow gone out of fashion for many. Not for me though.
Another of my top 10 games as a child, Chinese Checkers is sort of a game of strategy, kind of like Chess. The object of the game is to cross the board from your triangle, to the triangle on the opposite side with all your marble balls. The person who has all their marble balls all nice and settled on the opposite side first, wins the game.
While there is not much excitement in terms of laughter, and lively action, the quiet thinking can be very engaging. (Hmmm, I’m seeing a pattern here. I guess I enjoyed these quite games so much as a child because I was a very quiet kid myself :D)
As highly annoying as I find this game, I have to admit it is still fun to play. That is, until one of the sides uses manipulation against another to get their way, but is not willing to be nice in return. Excuse the sob story; a million years ago I had a boyfriend who loved this game and we played endlessly, which mostly ended with me pissed at him or pouting.
He is still my buddy, and teases me about it. But my Monopoly PTSD has mostly kept me away from the game. However, my kids love it, and still play it, so when I am busy, and can’t join in the fun, they are free to choose Monopoly. And since I am trying to be unbiased, this game just had to be included in this list of the best family board games for game night!
The upside: it’s a long haul to play the game. The downside: it’s a long haul to play the game 😛
Although I am not sure how old this game is, it is a recent add to our board game collection. I stumbled upon it while shopping for something else, and thought, “well, why the heck not?”
This game is loads of fun. But beware: some of the logos are very difficult to get. The point of LOGO Party is to guess which LOGO is in the card. There are several ways to do this: by miming hints for the other players, drawing something that hints at it, or by describing it, without using too specific words.
Our family loved it, and have played it several times, but as I said, it is not always easy to guess, and the younger kiddos might have a harder time. Still fun though.
Clue Harry Potter
Of all the Harry Potter board games we own, this is by far one of the best! It is just like the regular Clue, but the mystery you are trying to solve is at Hogwarts, using all Harry Potter characters, and the “objects” used to cause mischief are all Harry Potter related, like potions, spells, and even the Vanishing Cabinet!
When playing Clue Harry Potter board game, you get to be one of the main characters, go around different Hogwarts spots like The Room of Requirements, The Owlery, The Great Hall, Divination Class, and much more.
And just like with the regular Clue board game, the game ends when someone guesses correctly who did it, where, and with what. Trust me, if you like to play Clue, and love Harry Potter, then this is definitely a must-have!
F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Scene it?
What can I say? I do love Scene it? games haha.
With questions based on one of the best series of the 90s, you can hardly blame me for loving this game. Of course, I have an unfair advantage over the rest of my family on this one, since I have pretty much watched every single episode, at least once. Well, more than once, actually.
Just like any other Scene it? board game, this one requires the use of a DVD player. This is not necessarily a family favorite, since their chances of beating me on it are pretty slim, but every now and then I suck them into playing it, and I try really hard not to brag too much or get too smug, even though I know I am the master 🙂
This game is definitely a classic! I owned it when I was a small child, and loved playing it with my Grandma.
While this one is a 2-player only game, it is one of my kids go-to when my husband and I are too busy, and can’t join in the fun.
With a very simple set up, and even simpler rules, Connect 4 can be played by kids as young as 6 yrs old. All you have to do to win the game is connect 4 of your tokens in a row, either horizontal, vertical, or diagonal.
The kicker is to outsmart your opponent, and stop him, or her from aligning 4 tokens of their own. Connect 4 is a basic game of strategic thinking, and tons of fun to play.
Parcheesi, a Royal Game of India
This game is certainly older than dirt! As a very young child, I owned one, but it was simply called The Game of India, instead of Parcheesi: A Royal Game of India. Same difference. Mine came in a green box, but that’s probably where the differences end. And omg, I loved that game!
From 2 to 4 players, ages 7 & up can play this game, making it one of the best options included on this list. To play, every player chooses the color of chips they prefer, and set up on one of the outside circles. You can then move the chips out of your circle, circle the board, and then enter the middle thru the path assigned to your chips. Pretty straight forward, and fun, although you must always make sure to keep them in pairs on a spot, or move them far away from your opponent, or risk them landing in the same spot, thus sending you back to start 🙂
Who doesn’t want to sink their enemy’s boats, while carefully protecting their fleet, just for fun? No one, that’s who.
Battleship can be considered a “war game”, without any violent attacks added into the mix, making it an easy and fun game for any member of the family. The only downfall is that it’s another 2-player game. Then again, it is a great alternative for smaller families to play. Or for those moments when mom and dad are busy cooking, resting, etc.
The object of the game is to try to guess where your opponent has arranged their boats, and by hitting each and every hole in said ship, sink it. The person who sinks all the opponent’s ships first, wins. My son, and youngest daughter love this game. In fact, they were just playing it a couple nights ago. As always, my son won (I think my daughter sets her ships in pretty, and predictable patterns every time, which makes her an easy target 😀 )
Cards Against Humanity (Ages 17 & up)
Yes,, I know this is NOT a family game perse. Yes, I am aware that to play this game you should at least be 17 years old. But, I didn’t feel right not including it on this list. See, For some families, like mine, it is indeed possible to play Cards Against Humanity. Nope, my little Miss Emma doesn’t play it. Just our 2 adult children, my husband, and I.
I know when little ones are around, it’s best to keep this game safely inside the box. I mean, it can get pretty nasty in 2 seconds flat. Ok, sometimes straight up gross, and offensive, which is the fun part of the game. But there are ways around the age issue.
Here is what we do: We give Miss Emma some computer time in the bonus room, where she is free to play Minecraft, or listen to music, or even play some educational games. Once she is gone, we then sit down to play, and have a blast! Since the whole point of the game is to get pretty darn disgusting when pairing up cards, you can bet your hat that’s exactly what we do. And we love it. That is why it made this list of the best family board games for game night.
Although we don’t get to play it often, thanks to our little peanut, we certainly have a great time every time we play Cards Against Humanity.
*Here is another idea: If you don’t have adult or semi-adult children or other relatives to play with, you can always go thru the whole box, and remove every card that has any sexual, or violent innuendo. That will make the game a bit more PG. Fair warning though: doing this will take you a while, since there are a gazillion cards in the box, and that’s only the basic set, not counting the expansions packs!
There you have it. These awesome board games are all a big part of our family entertainment. We certainly have tons more games. But to be honest, we pretty much stick to these as our go-to options.
There are even a few games that we have not tried yet, because new games usually take longer to set up, and learn to play, and frankly, we are a bit limited on time right now. Of course, as we go thru them, and learn to play them, I will continue to update this list.
Because families get bored. Well, kids mostly. And when spending tons of money on fun stuff isn’t an option, you must always have alternatives to the every day routine.
Do you have other board games in your game closet? Which ones does your family feel are the best family games for game night? I’d love to know. We are always looking to add some cool new games to our collection. Please, share with us in the comments below!