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How to host the perfect family game night

7 tips for hosting a fun family game night

Spoiler alert, there is no such thing.

While TV ads and movie moments portray an image of all smiles and perfect Pinterest snacks, game night is often accompanied by frustration, tears, and tantrums; nobody likes to lose. Board games allow people to create a fun silly experience together. It’s a time to connect face to face, unplug from electronics, and make memories. But, especially when establishing game night with younger children, it is not always sunshine and rainbows. There are hard lessons to learn in board gaming: turn-taking, losing, adhering to rules. For young children, and even for adults, game nights come with some growing pains.

I will argue, however, that the ups and downs of game night is what creates the best memories. As imperfect as they may seem in the moment, the outbursts and tantrums can inspire humor and family rhetoric that will last a lifetime.

Here are a few steps you can take to make your introduction of a family game night more successful, or at least, less stressful.

1. Pregame: If you are introducing a new game to your family, read the rules in advance and make sure there is no additional set up required for the first time you play the game. This way you are able to engage the family immediately. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to read the rules and have an impatient 4 year old (or 40 year old) lose interest before you can even get the game going. My family experienced this frustration recently while playing Mouse Trap. By the time we assembled the game to start playing, most of our game playing time was over, and I had 2 disappointed kiddos on my hands. If I had checked out the game in advance, I would have been able to set the game up before we sat down to play and avoided this family game night mishap!

2. Pick a good time to play: if you plan out your game night (or day,) try to pick the most convenient time for your family’s schedule. Don’t attempt game night close to potential meltdown hours aka, bedtime!

3. Pick an easy game to start to get everyone in the right mode. Patience improves once you’ve had a small taste of game playing fun! We recommend Cobra Paw – one of our in-house creations here at Bananagrams, Inc.

4. Check your cellphones at the door. Set aside all distractions. You can’t start a game night and have the TV on in the background.

5. Snacks: keep it simple! Break open a bag of chips/cookies, or plan it around pizza night. Or better yet, play after dinner. Sometimes greasy hands or spilled drinks could ruin the game play!

6. Maintain parental flexibility: Game night should not be about teaching discipline. Approach it with the goal of having a fun time together. Not all game rules HAVE to be followed. Read your audience, sometime practicing a game for 10 minutes and coming back to it a week later, is better than powering through the hour you set aside for game night at the expense of fun.

7. Make it a habit. Select a family game night at the frequency that works for your family. Once a week, once a month, but the more often you practice and set aside time to play together, the more readily everyone will come to the table, so to speak.

As with everything in life, what you put in to it is what you get out of it. So forget about the “perfect” game night with your family. Focus on having fun with board games and roll with the punches. A family that plays together stays together.

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