How to Plan an Epic Family Game Night

The board game scene is nothing like it was when you were young. There are now board game stores in Grand Rapids, super cool games down the Target aisle and even a local convention where people create community around board games for a whole weekend.

Kids love getting in on the fun and it’s a perfect way to interact at home without screens. In fact, my kids are constantly begging us for game night! 

We have 4 great tips for you on how to set up your family’s game night as well as a list of great games for kids of all ages, from teens all the way down to preschoolers.

4 Tips for a Memorable Family Game Night

1 – Let Each Child Pick a Game to Play

Don’t complain about their choice, even if it’s Chutes and Ladders. Pro tip: If you really don’t like a certain board game, hide it before it’s time to choose.

2 – Set a Time Limit

Game night can easily last for hours, which can spell disaster for little kids. Designate a specific game time, such as 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM, so they know what to expect. Be sure to schedule time for each child’s game.

3 – Prep Before the Big Night

Finish baths and get the kids into pajamas before games start and make popcorn or other snacks ahead of time.

4 – Be a Role Model

They’re watching you! Keep your competitive side in check and don’t dominate every game. Give them chances to try new strategies and see what it’s like to have a strategy succeed or fail. There are so many life lessons waiting in Family Game Night!


Popular Game Picks

Are you looking for some different, fun games for your game night? These are the games that local game night families love.


Go Away Monster! – (age 3+) –  Reach into the bag to grab a game piece for your board, but be careful – you could pull out a monster instead.

Animal Upon Animal – (age 4+)- This stack ‘em up game is super easy to learn and fun for even the youngest gamers.

Karuba Junior – (age 4+) – Work together to reach the treasure before pirates hit the island!

Go Cuckoo – (age 4+) –  Carefully pull  a stick out of the bird’s nest without letting the precious egg fall!

Brandon the Brave – (age 5+) – Test your bravery as you seek out giants, dragons and witches in the quest to become a knight.

Go Cuckoo


Rhino Hero: Super Battle – (age 5+) –  Sequel to the popular 3-D stacking game Rhino Hero, the Super Battle edition includes the same stacking challenges, plus epic super hero battles.

Outfoxed – (age 5+) – This game of deduction is best played with the kids making decisions and adults playing along.

Meeple Circus – (age 8+) – Use your collection of colorful meeples to create the most entertaining circus show in this fun dexterity game.

Kingdomino – (age 8+) –  Even adults love the challenge of building the best kingdom with domino-like tiles.

Ticket to Ride – (age 8+) – Build train routes for points across North America, Germany, Europe, Swizerland and beyond.  Ticket to Ride comes in many variations, each a little different, but all extremely fun.

Rhino Hero: Super Battle

Tweens and Teens:

Bohnanza – (age 10+) – Trade your way to bean farming greatness as you grow delicious crops like Stink Beans, Chili beans and the elusive Cocoa Bean.

Small World – (age 10+) – The world is too small – will you be able to acquire enough land for your civilization? Or will you let it go into decline and choose a new adventure?

Telestrations – (age 12+) – A great party game, Telestrations is a mash-up of illustrations meets the game Telephone. Draw a picture. Decipher your neighbor’s picture. Warning: most participants laugh until tears stream down their face.

Dominion – (age 13+) – Race fellow monarchs to create your own Dominion. A very popular deck building game.

The Resistance: Avalon  – (age 13+) – This party game involves bluffing and deduction as you battle evil in medieval Britain. Can you figure out who the evil forces are?

Codenames – (age 14+) – This party game involves 2 teams. Try to get your teammates to guess the right words, without tipping off the other team.

Small World: Sky Island

If you’re looking for more game recommendations, try the helpful staff at Out of the Box Games in Kentwood and Zeeland or Vault of Midnight in downtown Grand Rapids.


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