I can’t lie. I really miss summer evenings. The after-supper soccer games… the neighborhood walks as the fireflies come out to dance… the wild berry picking with my husband after the littles were all tucked in… (Do you like how I completely leave out the sticky humidity and the obnoxious mosquitos? )
It’s too cold for all that now, but we still have fun! One of our very favorite ways? An all-out game fest.
We’ve done this more than a few times, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips for having a fantastic game night.
Let everyone have a pick.
When you have multiple children, you likely have either multiple ages and/or multiple genders. The odds are slim that they will all have the exact same favorite game. Honestly? The odds are also slim that the parents will enjoy all the same things, too. Letting each person pick a game ensures a couple of things– 1) everyone feels included and like their opinions are valued and 2) there will, by necessity, be a time limit for each game… and that’s a good thing.
Let there be treats!
Can I tell you a dirty little secret? I buy a bag of cheese balls or something similar pretty much every single month. Fake cheese, orange dye, yep… all that. But you know what? That bag lasts the whole month, typically. Do you want to know why? Because the kids know it only comes out for game nights. We make up all sorts of arbitrary rules, e.g. one puff for each match, a double-puff bonus for good sportsmanship, a puff reward for making it “home” in Sorry, etc. The “rules,” such as they may be, change every single time. But that’s part of the fun! By the time the whole night is done, each child has eaten maybe ten cheese balls. They think they’ve been richly rewarded, though, and that’s the beauty of it!
Have a grown-up beverage happening.
You want game night to be more fun for you, the grown-ups? Have a special beverage. Whether it’s wine, flavored coffee, gourmet tea, or spiked cocoa, the options are endless… but make it something special for the adults. The kids won’t care, really– they’re just so happy to be playing tons of games with you!
Find creative ways for everyone to participate.
See that Candy Land game up there? The one that predates me? (1974 edition FTW!) You may notice that one of those pieces is not like the others. That’s right– our middle child was the pig. There’s no reason you have to limit the number of players to just four! Most games work just as well with more people; you just need to find small toys or items to use as pawns. Don’t be surprised if people are fighting for the “special” piece(s.)
Don’t be afraid to set expectations.
One of my favorite things about game nights? My living room winds up so very tidy. The kids know that, if they want to play five different games with us, they’re going to have to put away every toy, book, knick-knack, etc. that’s out of place. They are very motivated to clean up! They are also very motivated to eat well and efficiently at dinner. It’s awfully nice to have all those things happen without my needing to nag or make demands.
Be utterly silly.
My kids love to play games with us, just like most kids. Still, when we’re facing the “same ol’, same ol’” around here, it’s nice to have a silly streak. One night, a couple of our kids were bummed that the game Sorry had won out (again) and were being a little reluctant in their playing. Of course, once they found out that red got to ride a skateboard and blue rode on the back of a dragon, well, their whole attitude turned around! What started as Mommy being her ridiculous self has become a tradition. Consider yourself warned– if you play Sorry at my house, you might find yourself on top of a purple truck.