7 Family Night Ideas to Get Everyone Playing Together
Alexandra Fung is the co-founder and CEO of Upparent, a parent-to-parent website where families can discover and share recommendations about local events and activities, things to do with kids at home, kid-friendly recipes, books, toys, products and more. Alex is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and NYU School of Law, and prior to founding Upparent, represented children and families in the nonprofit sector for many years. She lives in Chicagoland with her husband and four kids. As part of the founding team at Upparent, she plays a leading role in creating and curating the more than 24,000 recommendations on the site to-date, as well as for growing Upparent’s reach to help as many parents as possible discover this new and innovative platform for finding, sharing and organizing ideas about fun things to do as a family. Reaching about 90,000 monthly users, Upparent provides gift, product, book, recipe, and vacation ideas for families everywhere, and ideas for local events and activities for families in 22 metropolitan areas around the United States.
Get inspired to start some new family traditions! Whether you want to go all out on an epic theme night or just want some easy inspiration for things to do together - these fun ideas can turn any evening (or day) at home into a special occasion!
- Family Game Night
- Make Ice Cream Sundaes
- Create a Mural
- Family Olympics
- Volunteer for a Good Cause
- Camp Out in the Backyard
- Turn Up the Music for a Dance Party
Put your phones and tablets in a drawer and get ready for some serious family play time! We’re sharing seven of our favorite ideas for your next family night (or day!) at home. Go as big or as simple as you like - the important thing is to enjoy this dedicated time with one another and embrace the simple joys of play together as a family!
Family Game Night
Family game night is a staple family night idea for a reason. It’s easy to pull out a deck of cards or favorite board game and gather round for a little structured play, creating a space for conversation, fun, and laughter with minimal effort. There are plenty of great family games to choose from, too! Simple games like Uno or Spot It! work well for a wide range of ages, can be modified for shorter or longer play, and are easy to travel with for family vacations. Strategy games like Catan or Ticket to Ride are especially popular with older kids and guessing games like HedBanz can be made simple enough for young kids to play while still being fun for adults and big siblings. Another fun variation on your typical board game night is to set up a bunch of minute-to-win-it games for the whole family and challenge one another to silly competitions like stacking hardware nuts with chopsticks or moving candies from one plate to another using only a straw.
Ice Cream Sundae Night
Make your own sundaes for a tasty and simple family night idea. Put out the ice cream and a variety of toppings - fudge, caramel, fruit pieces, candy bits, sprinkles - and have everyone make their own tasty creation. This can be a fun tradition to enjoy on its own (perhaps on Sundays?), or along with another family activity.
Create a Mural
Roll out an extra-large paper across your dining room table or living room floor and have everyone draw and color a section of it to make a larger family picture. Pick a theme, like superheroes, farm animals or under the sea, and have everyone make their own unique contribution to the mural. Put on a family-friendly easy listening music station or audio book in the background and enjoy listening, coloring, and creating together.
Preparing your own family Olympics is a great way to get everyone active and engaged in some friendly competition! Part of the fun is coming up with the games, so get the kids involved in the planning to decide which events you will all be competing in. NERF archery, a hula hoop contest, balloon toss, three-legged race...play in teams or individually, and come up with names, DIY medals, and special t-shirts to make it an especially memorable day.
Volunteering as a family is a great way to engage kids in their larger community and help them understand how even simple actions can make a positive difference in their lives and the lives of others. Although volunteering at a local community organization can be an especially rewarding experience, there are also plenty of volunteer opportunities for kids that families can try together from home. Write a letter to our troops, craft lifesaving paracord bracelets, make blankets for sick children or choose from any number of projects to make your family night both fun and meaningful.
Backyard Camping Night
Sleeping outside is such a thrill for kids - break out the sleeping bags (or air mattresses!) and pitch a tent in the backyard for an extra special family night under the stars. Tell stories, gaze up at space, eat lots of snacks, and keep a lookout for fireflies. Elevate your family movie night, too, by making it an outdoor movie night! A portable movie projector is perfect for the occasion, but even a laptop computer will suffice for an easy outdoor movie experience. Pick a favorite family movie or two and enjoy the novelty of watching it outside at night.
Create a family playlist (or just break out the ABBA!) and have an impromptu dance party! This is a great way to use up energy and get everyone moving and will certainly lead to plenty of breathless laughs. Though you don’t need anything more than great music to make it happen, fun variations on your family dance party could include dancing video games like Nintendo Wii’s Just Dance or challenging each other to learn a new dance move. You can find plenty of inspiration on YouTube and Tik Tok - just be sure to screen it first to make sure your chosen dance video will be appropriate for the entire family!