Family Night Unplugged: The Best Board Games

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to have everyone in my house put away his/her electronic devices more often and actually hang out as a family more. That’s a tall order these days, as we are all busy with different schedules due to club meetings, sports, church, work, and all the other things that life throws at us. Not to mention that at the present moment every member of my family will undergo serious withdrawals when they are pressed to “step away from the electronic device!”

But I have determination, goals, and OK, a few threats on my side. It’s also not easy for my teenage son and my elementary-age daughter to agree on much of anything these days. However, I have a few ideas on how to make this happen, and one of them is good, old-fashioned board games. Nothing new about this. My own childhood involved Monopoly and checkers tournaments. But, while these classics exist in my house now, we have discovered a few new ones that I have found can entertain my family regardless of the age gap. Luckily for us, my brother, known to my kids as Tio Rey, usually provides us with some awesome board games each Christmas. Here are some of our favorites:

  1. Sorry—This classic game is a hit in my house. It’s simple enough for both kids but has an element of surprise that makes it fun. The act of forcing a player back to the beginning also entices my little angels to enjoy “Sorry-ing” each other. I smile and call it a type of family bonding. Because that’s what it is…right?!
  2. UNO—This oldie-but-goodie is a great card game for kids. Players check their cards for possible matches. If there are none, the player must pick a card from the “pick from” pile. Players keep taking turns until a player has one card left and says. “UNO!” My kids have been playing this from a very young age and it helped them learn numbers and colors. Now, it is just a fun, quick game that we bring out as a family favorite. Again, we can play this in just a few minutes.
  3. Pie FaceYes, this game is advertised for younger kids, but my teen doesn’t mind playing this occasionally for the chance to see who will end up with whipped cream all over their face! Bonus points if it ends up being Mom or Dad!
  4. Spot it!—This game is a visual perception game that moves quickly. Be the first one to find a match of two like images and win the turn. There are different games in one, but we stick to the basic game for my eight-year-old’s sake. Lots of quick fun that doesn’t last all afternoon but can be a fun few minutes after dinner or when you are looking to make a waiting period pass quickly. You know, those times when you are running late to go somewhere but your mother-in-law calls and needs your husband’s attention for a quick 20…30…40 minutes. Sigh!
  5. Charades—Not technically a board game, but my family loves playing this. We all pretty much bomb at it, but we love to laugh at each other as we try to act out the categories. We make up our own categories and really make the game our own. In December, we created Christmas charades, and we laughed at our versions of elves and Christmas trees.
  6. Heads Up!—This game was made famous by Ellen Degeneres, and it has an app that is pretty popular. It has a great variety of ways of playing and several categories: Celebrities, Movies, Act It Out, and Sound It Out. Some of these are challenging for my kids, but we give LOTS of hints to make it doable.
  7. Apples to Apples—This is another new-to-us game that has been around for awhile. Apples to Apples Jr. also exists, but we jumped right into the version for older kids. I like it because my kids are actually learning vocabulary words without really realizing it. It’s also a fun way for kids to “think outside the box” as they try to make one of their cards fit into a category that sometimes requires some creative thinking. You have to decide, “Which is more ‘obnoxious’: glaciers or milk duds?” Both of my kids have a somewhat questionable talent of being able to argue on any subject, so this is the game for them! But, again, laughter is sure to follow when you have to make such an argument.
  8. Tenzi—This is a fun, fast-paced dice game for kids. The object is to roll the dice as fast as possible. The player who gets all dice on the same number and yells “Tenzi!” is the winner. Each player has 10 dice, so while the object is easy, you have to make a plan as to which number to shoot for. This game challenges my eight=year-old, but she is competitive and determined. (Those are my mom words for “hates to lose” and “stubborn.”) But this game is for ages 7+, and I think that it is difficult even for that age. I usually make it fair by removing two dice from her pile, and then it’s game on!

These board games are just a few of my family favorites right now. I’m sure there are many wonderful, fun games out there that we have yet to try. Sometimes we play a quick game, and sometimes it’s a more involved, longer afternoon. Playing board games as a family is not only fun, it allows my kids to experience the added benefits of building strategies, dealing with wins and losses, team building, etc. I call that a win for us all!

What is your favorite family board game? Share in the comments!

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