At the end of a hard week of work or school, is there anything like family game night to remind you that you're loved by some pretty fun and cool people? Whether it's a board game that's been played for decades or a stand-up game that gets your body moving, a little competition can be healthy. So clear off that kitchen table or make some space in the living room - your family members are going down.
We've compiled lists of the best family games for you think about for the next big gathering. Read on for some wonderful ideas for group games!
These ones have been around for generations. There's something to be said for what's tried and true. These games have been played, improved, and updated so many times, they've gotta be good. You can't go wrong with these crowd-pleasers!
One of the best-known longterm strategy games, Risk games go on for hours and sometimes take days to finish. Put simply, your goal is to take over the world by slowly eliminating other players. The game board is divided into forty-two territories over six continents, and each player begins with the same number of armies. A roll of the dice determines the success of your attacks, and you must remember to keep your territories well defended since when it's not your turn other players can roll to attack your defending armies. Alliances form to take down the strongest players and dissolve when players turn on each other to take over new territories.
An absolute classic, and the only board game originally inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. Monopoly comes with so many variations, that if you somehow manage to get bored playing the original, you can move on to one of the spin-offs or versions that use a real-world city or popular TV show as a backdrop. If you've been living under a rock, here's you play Monopoly: all players begin with the same amount of money, then roll the dice and move around the board buying properties that eventually become houses and hotels. When players land on claimed properties, they owe the property owner money. Eventually, players run out of money and go bankrupt, and whoever's left wins.
A game where courtesy is abandoned early, this one's easy to play with younger kids. The goal of the game is to get all four of your "pawns" around the board and back to their starting space. Players pick a card which tells them how many spaces they can move (forward or backward). The catch? No two pawns can sit in the same space, so if someone's pawn lands on yours, your pawn is sent back to Start.
Like Monopoly, there are all kinds of variations of Clue. This is a murder mystery, requiring strategy, memory, and focus. At the beginning of the game, a unique combination of murder culprit, murder weapon, and scene of the crime are randomly selected, and each player is assigned a character and given information as to which possibilities can be eliminated. Players move around the board, entering different rooms and making accusations as to who the murder culprit is and what weapon they used in that room. Players whose cards contain details that disprove the speaker's accusations share that information with the accuser, leaving other players to speculate over the course of the game how the murder happened by a gradual process of elimination.
One of the oldest board games on the list, the earliest version of this game dates back to 1860! Players spin a wheel in the center of the board, landing on a number from 1 to 10. Players navigate the board in little cars that accumulate family members as players get married or have children in their "life". Go to college or start a career, make decisions and garner accomplishments, and of course, pay taxes. Play it safe or take risks in hopes of ending the game with the most amount of money.
The game that rewards you for all the useless facts and details you've been storing in your brain! Roll the dice and move around the board answering questions from various categories. Collect wedges to represent the questions answered correctly and roll again for every right answer. Once you get all six category's wedges and fill up your pie, get to the end space and answer one last question to win the game. Be warned, this game may be frustrating for younger kids aren't naturally as good at answering questions or making educated guesses, though there are versions available designed for younger age groups.
A game that's genius in its simplicity, KerPlunk is timeless and can be enjoyed at any age. This game is unique in that it's played vertically rather than on a horizontal, flat board. A clear plastic cylinder is mounted upright to a plastic base, and before the game starts the players work together to stick a network of straws through the series of holes in the middle of the tube. A set of marbles is dropped through the tube's open top and are caught on the hammock of straws beneath. The game is straightforward - players take turns carefully removing straws in hopes that the straw they remove won't result in a marble losing its balance and falling. By the time the last straw is removed or the last marble falls, whichever player is responsible for the least falling marbles wins the game.
Notorious for infuriating parents with its many pieces, this game was one of the first three-dimensional board games to be mass-produced. Each player plays as a mouse, traveling the board while building the mousetrap contraption from which the game gets its name. Eventually, players will land on the "Turn Crank" space, at which point the crank which sets off the contraption is turned and sets in motion the mousetrap. However, the contraption only works if the mouse trap is built to completion, and is only desirable for the player turning the crank if another player's mouse is under the mouse trap's space.
For those who love leaving their fate to chance, Yahtzee is a multiple dice game. One game consists of thirteen rounds, in which each player rolls a set of five dice from one to three times, trying to achieve certain combinations according to the Yahtzee rules to score points. The dice combination categories tend to reflect card game combinations such as "aces", "four of a kind", and "full house". A "Yahtzee" occurs when all five dice roll the same number.
The game that's had generations scouring the household dictionary to determine "if that's a word", this one is equal parts luck and vocabulary. Players are randomly distributed a set of tiles bearing single letters and have to find ways to create words out of the letters they've been given. In a crossword-style setup, players can only place down tiles to form words if the letters they're putting down are touching an existing word on the game board. Points are assigned based on the difficulty of the letters used, and special point values are awarded for laying tiles over squares that offer bonuses.
Modern, popular, and expanding - this list of games have struck a chord with kids these days. Whether you're young or old, these more recent board games are the ones you'll be hearing about for years to come, so you might as well learn to play them now. They're all fun though, we promise!
A modern classic, this is like mad libs for the politically incorrect and dirty-minded. The infamous black cards provide a setup sentence with one or two blanks for filling in. Players randomly draw white cards with phrases that potentially fill in the blanks from the black cards. Players take turns drawing black cards and acting as the judge for the funniest or most well-suited white card responses. Take note, both the black and white cards can get pretty filthy, so this is not a great game to play with children under a certain age. Parents may want to look through the decks of cards to get a sense of the type of humor and vulgarity the game employs.
A deceptively simple concept, each player chooses a color of tile and is given 21 Blokus tiles in various unique shapes. The game board, a plain grid of 20 squares by 20 squares, slowly fills up as players take turns placing down tiles, beginning at the corners of the board and moving toward the space in the center. The catch is that all tiles placed down have to connect corner-to-corner with an existing tile of the same color, but no edges can touch. Temporary alliances form as players team up to break the streak of players who expand across the board quickly. You lose if you run out of spaces to place down tiles, and when there's no more room on the board or no one is able to make moves, whoever has the most tiles on the board wins.
The perfect game for families looking to combine charades, Pictionary, and trivia. Everyone gets a chance to participate in this very active game where drawing, acting, sculpting, and teamwork are put to the test. Teams roll the die and land on spaces that instruct them to draw cards from categories that challenge the players to perform quirky tasks requiring teamwork, creativity, or guesswork. The better your team does, the faster you're able to move through the board toward the finish line.
Another word-oriented game, Apples to Apples is about creativity and knowing your audience. All players get their own red cards with nouns, and choose the noun card from their deck that best fits the green card randomly selected by that round's judge. Every round a new person picks a green card from the green deck and becomes the judge, so it's helpful to be familiar with the other players' senses of humor and play your noun cards strategically according to what that round's judge will appreciate.
A highly-awarded board game, Settlers of Catan imagines the players as settlers on an island called Catan, aiming to establish settlements, roads, and cities to further the interest of their own colony. The game board is composed of hexagon tiles randomly-organized at the beginning of the game, representing different land types. Each land type produces a different resource, which players can access through resource cards if the dice are rolled in favor of the land hexagon adjacent to their settlement. On a player's turn, they can continue building settlements or trade resource cards. Each settlement is worth one point, and each city is worth two. Once a player reaches ten points, they win the game, though points are awarded for other achievements as well, such as building the longest road on the island.
Similar in premise to Settlers of Catan, the game is about extending your presence over land through cities and roads with the aim of establishing the strongest presence on the board. Set in Medieval Southern France, the game begins with one tile placed down that features the image of some kind of terrain, including any combination of a road, city, or field. Players take turns picking random terrain tiles and positioning them in line with the roads, fields, and cities already present on the board. Once a road, field, or city is completed, "Meeple" (or "followers") can be placed down on those tiles to score points. The goal of the game is to get the most Meeple by the time there are no more tiles left to add to the board.
A game of forbidden words, the objective is to get your teammate(s) to guess a specific word written on a given card without uttering any of the five other "taboo" words listed on the card that would make the secret word too obvious. If the player suggesting hints accidentally says one of the taboo words, players on the opposing team squeak a "squeaker" or buzzer to censor the off-limits word. No short forms of the secret word or variations of the word are allowed. Teams have until the timer runs out to guess, and every correct guess earns a point. Whichever team scores the most points by the end of a round wins.
Sometimes you're looking for all the fun of a board game with a lot less of the structure. With these DIY games, the rules are always a bit more flexible and can be adjusted to accommodate your family's needs. For most of these, you'll need a pen and paper, but some require no materials at all! These options are cheap, fairly straightforward, and can be played almost anywhere, at any time.
This game works best with more people, and rounds can be shorter or longer, depending on what kinds of strategies players employ. One person, playing as "the detective", is set aside from the group while another player is picked to be the group's "poison frog". The group chooses an action (like winking or performing a certain gesture) to represent "killing" other teammates when the action is directed at them. The group sits or stands, with the detective player mingling throughout, watching the rest of the players closely. The poison frog player then "kills" the other players one by one with the secret action when the detective isn't looking, as killed players slowly drop out of the game. The detective's aim is to try to determine who the poison frog is before the frog kills all the other players. If the detective can guess before the frog is the last player left standing, they win. If the frog manages to kill all the other players without being named by the detective, they win.
A game that requires nothing but pens, paper, and an understanding of the inner workings of your family members' minds. One player, the player who is "it", writes down a statement or question on a piece of paper that the other players each write a response to on their own sheets of paper. The response sheets are shuffled randomly, and players take turns matching the written responses to the players.
Another game that requires a writing utensil and paper, Partners In Pen is a fresh twist on Pictionary that is personalized with items from your family's home. Fill a bag with random, weird objects from around the house that all family members would be reasonably familiar with. Then split players into teams and decide on who the drawer and the describer for that round will be. The describers from each team randomly pick items from the bag of household objects and try to describe to the drawer how to illustrate the secret object. If the drawer is able to guess what the item is, the describer picks a new item from the bag, until there are no objects left in their team's bag. Whichever team clears out their bag first wins.
Another take on charades, You Move Me requires two people to act out words or phrases, instead of the traditional one. Players are divided into teams, and with each round, a player from one team picks a player from the other team to "make move". A word or phrase is picked, and one player (who knows the word) tries to move the other player's body (who doesn't know the word) in a way that provides clues for the first player's team to guess what the action is. If the mover is able to get their team to guess the word, they earn a point. The teams switch acting and guessing until one team reaches an agreed-upon point value to win.
A long car ride classic, this can be a great game to play around a table too. A category is chosen (such as animals, celebrities, places, etc.), with one person deciding on a word within the category and fielding 20 yes or no questions from the rest of the participants. Guesses count as questions, and the question askers get one chance after their 20th question to make a final guess. If the askers guess wrong, the player earns a point. The group rotates being the askee and the askers, and whoever gets the most points by the end of several rounds is the winner. Since having more participants limits the number of questions each person can ask, the game can get frustrating as the group begins to run out of questions and start criticizing one another's question tactics.
A boardless version of Boggle, to play Scrabble Scramble, cut up sheets of paper into squares and write a different letter of the alphabet on each of them. Mix up all the sheets of paper in a hat, and randomly draw a set number of letters, between six and eight. Every player gets a sheet of paper and pen, and on a timer, each player tries to list as many words as they can think of by rearranging the scrambled letters before time runs out. Whoever can think of the most words per round earns a point, and whoever earns the most points by the end of a set number of rounds wins the game.
Gaining popularity fast, this combination of Pictionary and broken telephone is played with a few sheets of long paper and writing utensils. Each player begins by writing a word or phrase at the top of their sheet of paper. Once everyone is done, all players pass on their sheet of paper to the person next to them, read the word or phrase, and draw an illustration of the written word or phrase. They fold over the original writing, leaving only their illustration exposed, and pass on their paper to the next person, who writes a word or phrase based on what they think the drawing depicts. This process continues on, with images and writing alternating until the paper can no longer be folded and there is no more space to write.
Just like charades but personalized to your family's history! This one is a fun and active stand-up game, but it's also a trip down memory lane and is bound to get your family reminiscing over all the funny things that have happened over vacations, holidays, and in your everyday household. If you want to include a more guided approach, consider printing out family photos and randomly drawing from the pile to pick which memories to perform.