Playing the same games over and over can become boring – bring the fun back with one of our best family games that you probably haven’t heard of before! Your kids will love the challenge and you will be thrilled for a game that isn’t Sorry or Go Fish.
Can I be perfectly honest? I’m not a big fan of playing games with little kids. Eek! Total bad mom moment?
But seriously, trying to keep them from ripping all the pieces off the board or throwing the cards across the room is a serious test in patience and self control. I didn’t play games too often with the little ones.
But once they hit about 4 or 5 and can handle longer sets of directions plus sitting for the duration of the game then – GAME ON! Ha! Get it? I’m hilarious and you know it 😉
We started letting our older boys stay up a bit later at night during the summer and we occasionally extend that to Friday and Saturday nights during the school year. They are also allowed to be out with us during the little kids’ naps. All this extra time with them means we have gotten the chance to play some great games – some classics and some a little more off the beaten path.
We quickly discovered that we didn’t want to keep playing the same games over and over, so we’ve made it a point of adding a new game to our library each Christmas. We also learned our library offers board games for checking out – so crazy! We’ve yet to try the opportunity because we are a little worried about losing pieces, but we are planning on giving it a chance so we can try out games like Catan or Ticket to Ride before we invest our own money in one.
The best family games to add to your collection
The four other siblings bought this version for Parker for Christmas one year and it quickly shot to the top of the boy’s list. It’s a twist on the classic Monopoly game by using Nintendo characters and properties, but that’s not all! There’s no paper money, just coins. Each character also has special skills and power ups that happen based on the roll of the dice. Every time someone passes GO a boss battle starts and each player can take a chance to beat the boss with a roll of the die.
It took us a couple times of playing to fully grasp the whole concept but now that we’ve played frequently we’ve learned the best ways to try and win. The game only comes with four characters but extra characters are sold separately. We found Parker a few on clearance for $1 each at Walmart for his Christmas stocking so now we have two more!
There is a newer version of Monopoly Gamer featuring MarioKart instead of just Mario and it’s easier (and cheaper!) to find the add-on characters for this version since it’s still in stores.
We bought this game on a bit of a whim last year when Target was offering a 50% off Cartwheel and we thought it sounded interesting. We knew the boys wanted more family games and we wanted to try something a little more challenging than the basic games. I’m so glad we took the chance and got this!
This game asks you to use some planning, logic, and problem solving skills – all great skills for kids to learn! The players are split up into robbers and security, but only one person plays all the security guards. There are three rounds – one for each floor of the bank, and each round is split into three sections – planning, card playing, and player moving.
If it sounds complicated, don’t worry! We were all (two adults, 9 year old and 7.5 year old) able to pick it up after the first floor of the first game. The game says it’s for ages 12+ but as long as there adults playing with our kids to remind them of the order of the game they have done totally fine. After we played it a few more times they were good to go on their own with only an occasional reminder.
I had never played dominoes before dating my husband. I was much more of a board game and card game kid growing up. But dominoes is so fun! Our family prefers Mexican Train because of the strategy involved but Chicken Foot is a great option for beginners.
One of the best perks of dominoes is that we can have up to 8 players – perfect for our family of 7! So many games don’t allow space for our entire family to play so this is nice when we want to have a real family game night. Of course right now the little boys still play with us since they are only four!
If you plan on playing a lot of dominoes I highly recommend getting domino racks to hold the dominoes. My father in law made amazing domino racks for us but luckily you can find them online!
Labyrinth a classic game from my childhood that I’m so glad I was gifted again as an adult so I could introduce it to my kids. It’s only for four players, but it’s still worth owning. You need to move through the maze and discover each item in your deck of cards but look out – the maze shifts!
I like that I can control about how long this game takes by the amount of treasure we have in our decks. If we are short on time I can give us three to five cards but if we have no plans I can pass out the whole deck.
This game is perfect for teaching cause & effect because each player takes turns moving the maze before moving their piece. It also requires planning ahead but shifting when your plans are thwarted. It’s sometimes frustrating – but so is real life! Games that teach life skills are fantastic in my book.
Yatzee was a favorite growing up so I wasn’t shocked when I had such a great time playing Farkle! It involves a bit more risk as there is always a chance you will get no points in a round. Will you stay safe and try and roll a low point total or risk it all and go for more? If you don’t roll anything worth points? You Farkled!
You can play this with your own dice and look up the instructions online or you can buy the game to have a place to keep the dice. This is another great large family game because there really isn’t a limit to how many people can play. I mean, I guess the Farkle score pads could limit you, but there is this neat thing called paper that you can use instead(which is exactly what we do, along with our own dice)!
*This is the only game we don’t actually own. Each time I play it I’m reminded why I want to own a copy for ourselves!
A friend in my MOPS group introduced me to Buzzword and we laughed so hard as our group tried to think of the right words for the descriptions. My face hurt by the end!
In Buzzword you are given a list of words or phrases with a common theme and one single clue to give your team. You need to describe those words or phrases to your team for the to guess – but you can’t use the buzzword in your description! It’s both frustrating and hilarious to make your brain hunt for ways to explain the phrase “string quartet” clearly enough for your team to guess it, without using the word “string.”
We picked this game up because it was 70% off at Target during the summer. It looked interesting but the description was also slightly confusing. If one character, the Wizard, always wins, wouldn’t you simply choose to always be the Wizard? Only after reading through the directions did we discover the nuances of the game – you pick a new character each turn, and the character you choose determines your moves that round as well as the order of turns the following round.
We picked up on the rules quickly and within the first couple weeks we played it multiple times. The littler kids even got in on the action by helping us add gems to the “Bag of Fate” and draw tokens out on our turn. This game is quickly becoming a favorite with our big boys and us as well.
Other great family games that didn’t make our list:
These aren’t the only games we play, however. We have a closet full of games to keep us busy and laughing together. The following games are some that we love or that are fairly standard for a family game closet. If you don’t own these I highly recommend adding them to your collection because they are classics that you can’t go wrong with or games that get played over and over in our house.
Games for the younger kids:
Is there a home that doesn’t own this game for at least a short period of time? We are on our second copy after our first was a little too loved.
This game is a little divisive because it can go quickly or it can take forever. We only play it every so often so we don’t get burnt out 😉
The popping dice never gets old for kids!
Games for the family:
I’m astonished that this game is so hard to locate these days (and it’s definitely not worth this price!)! It was a favorite when I was a kid and I bought my own copy in college. My older boys choose this game again and again for game days.
The younger version of the classic board game offers less properties and less stakes but still a fun time.
When I was a kid the game focused around missing pets. The new version tries to discover who ate the last piece of cake. Far less serious than solving a murder!
Similar to Trouble but with a larger board and a few more twists and turns.
We haven’t introduced this one to our kids yet because we don’t have the junior version and I’m not sure they’d understand all the references in the regular version yet at only 9 and 10. Soon enough, though!
The nice thing about Pictionary is you don’t necessarily need to own the game in order to play it. Grab a large drawing pad, a timer (or use your phone), and a variety of ideas to draw and you’ve got a game! The official game just makes it a little easier on a tired brain 😉
Another go-to game in our house. This game cracks me up when we play because one kid desperately wants to land on every baby space and the other gets so excited to avoid all of them. This kid has learned already that in The Game of Life, more kids = more expenses.
Games for the older crowd:
We haven’t played this one with the kids because some of the categories are beyond their levels. But it’s a favorite of mine that I bring to every game night! It’s hard to think when you are fighting giggles like crazy.
I like this game because it’s electronic – no pieces to lose! We’ve played this at game nights with a dozen or more people and it gets rowdy as people get more and more intense in their quest for victory.
I have so much useless knowledge in my head that this game is perfect. My parents owned a copy when I was a kid and I remember pulling out the cards and reading them for fun. You can get the classic version or go for a family edition so everyone can play together!
If you haven’t played a game of Monopoly that has lasted for multiple days, have you actually played Monopoly? My dad was ruthless and held nothing back to conquer us but we soon learned how to hold on to our own properties and get him back.
Who dun it? This was one of my favorites as a kid and I’m glad my older boys have started enjoying it as well.
I know we aren’t the only family that loves playing board games together – and there are so many games out there to play! If you’ve played one of these or have a different game you and your family loves, please share them in the comments so we can all find more game ideas.