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Favorite Family Games: Shake Up Family Game Night

“Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.”

I used to live that motto every family game night. The turns were drawn out so long that we would forget who was actually going. The inevitable arguments over the incomprehensible rules. The elbows knocking tokens out of place followed by the inexplicable cry of, “Let’s just start over!” followed by my wail of, “Noooooo, let’s just please FINISH!”

Good times.

Playing Family Games: Family Game Night Ideas

It’s not that I don’t love games. I just don’t love the kind of games we were playing. Monopoly. Sorry. Life. I always started with the best intentions, but twenty minutes in, I was ready to ground everyone. I like something with a bit more speed and creativity. Everything changed this Christmas when our family discovered two new games that have kept us all entertained. I highly recommend these if you’re feeling burned out on the kiddie classics in your game closet. They’ve become our favorite family games.

Pit is a card game that first came out in 1904, so while it’s certainly not new, it’s new to us. Some things I love about this game: everyone plays at the same time so there’s no waiting for your turn, it’s loud and frantic while still being super easy and each round is quick. The premise is that you are trading commodities on the stock market, which means your whole family will be shouting trades across the table at once. As soon as someone gets nine matching commodity cards, the market is closed. Spring for the Deluxe Edition with the bell so you can use it to open and close the market. Trust me.

Less frantic but highly creative is my very favorite new game: Say Anything. We played this with friends ages seven to forty-five and it worked for everyone. One player reads a question from a stack of cards. Then each player records his best answer on the dry erase board. Points are awarded to the player who wrote the best answer and the other players who voted for him. Answers range from hysterical to sentimental. I enjoyed getting to know my family and friends a little better with this one. Everyone is engaged on each turn and rounds are short. Bonus: dry erase boards and markers.

If family game night has become a chore at your house, try shaking it up with our favorite family games. Game on!

Michelle Icard is the author of Middle School Makeover: Improving the Way You and Your Child Experience the Middle School Years. Learn more about her work with middle schoolers and their parents at

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