Every family needs a handful of awesome family night ideas.
There are few things as wonderful as bonding with your family over a fun game or activity. Everyone relaxes, your bonds grow, you get to know each other in new little ways, and you all go to bed with big smiles on your faces.
Establishing a family night is an easy way to promote the emotional health of your family. Even small kids will benefit from it, and it will create a culture in your family of enjoying each other’s company.
Bet you didn’t know this: Chris used to come to my family’s weekly game nights long before we ever started dating. He’d recently moved to Perth from California, he didn’t have family of his own to hang out with, and my mum took him under her wing a bit! So he (plus another gentleman friend of ours) began coming for Monday night dinner and board games night when I was 19 and my sisters were in high school. It was through these game nights that we got to know each other before we ended up taking it to the next level. So I guess you could say that family nights are a part of our fabric and foundation!
(My sister ended up dating the other friend but it fizzed out pretty quickly and he never sat at our games night table again. So I’m not saying it’s a recipe for romantic success!)
Now that Jackson is nearly five and is able to stay up later than he used to, we’ve started introducing a family night into our own family. I can’t wait until Everley is a bit older and can join in too!
I love the idea of families valuing each other enough to spend time together long after the kids have outgrown Hungry Hungry Hippos and Gooey Louie. And I believe that a regular family night tradition is a huge key in fostering that love of hanging out together. It’s foundational stuff!
How to plan for a successful family night in:
1. Make family fun night a regular thing
Designate a night of the week (a lot of people choose Fridays) and set it aside for family night. This will make it a predictable part of your family’s routine and will give everyone something to look forward to each week.
2. Plan ahead
Don’t get to your designated family night, look at each other and ask “So… what should we do tonight?” A successful family night doesn’t have to take much effort to execute, but it does need to be planned in advance. Spend a few minutes at the start of the week a) deciding what your family activity will be, and b) working out if you need to find/purchase anything to make it happen.
3. Make it a non-negotiable
Protect family night fiercely: avoid making other plans for that night each week. Show your kids how much you value that weekly time spent with them.
4. Have your kids offer input
If your kids are old enough, hand over the reigns and let them choose an activity for family night once in a while. Touch base with them and find out which family night ideas they enjoy and would like to do again, and which ones aren’t as fun for them.
5. Be inclusive
Don’t be afraid to let a close friend from school, a grandparent or a neighbour in on the fun from time to time. While it is nice to get one-on-one time with your kids, occasionally adding someone new to the mix won’t take away from that. And it’s extra special to involve someone else in the fun.
While it might take a few tries to get in a good groove with family night, it will absolutely be worth it!
Now here’s the exciting part…
28 Super Fun Family Night Ideas
1. Family movie night
Pick a family favourite, or use it as an opportunity to slowly introduce your kids to the classic Disney movies you grew up with. Just make sure there’s popcorn, juice, and a nice big cosy blanket to snuggle under.
2. Star gazing in the backyard
Lay out a picnic rug, lie down, hold hands, and stare up at the sky. Point out the constellations, look for shooting stars, talk about the phases of the moon, even snap some photos of the beautiful night sky. Then go inside and warm up with a hot drink!
3. S’mores over a fire
If you don’t have a fire pit, invest in one! So many precious family moments can be experienced while sitting around a warm, toasty fire. But like… roasting marshmallows definitely rates pretty highly there.
4. Formal family dinner
Cook something everybody will love, dim the lights, light a candle, put on some moody tunes, lay out the nice china and (gulp!) let the kids drink from glasses. A grown-up dinner experience can be a lot of fun for kids!
5. Family games night
It’s a classic for a reason! Begin building up a little collection of family-friendly board games and spend a couple of hours bonding while you play together.
6. Epic Lego night
Bust out the lego and create something mammoth together! Maybe a giant city, maybe a fleet of whacky vehicles, maybe a castle or a maze. True story: I never played lego growing up, but I absolutely love playing it with Jackson and marvelling at his creativity and ideas.
7. Family dance party
Pop on some 90s music (or you know… Baby Shark), clear the furniture up against a wall, and have a big ol’ boogey sesh in your PJs.
8. Cook together night
Pick something simple for little hands to get involved with, like homemade pizza or loaded grilled cheeses, and hang out around the bench creating your dinner together. You could come up with prizes for “most loaded pizza” or “strangest but most delicious flavour combo” – just make sure the kids create something they’ll actually eat! Check out my simple tips for cooking with your kids successfully.
9. Dinner at a local restaurant
Support a local business, get your kids used to behaving properly in a restaurant, and enjoy a yummy meal that you don’t have to cook! Growing up, we would go to our local tavern every week or two, and it was so fun! There’s something special about going back to the same place over and over, establishing a relationship with the staff, knowing the menu off the top of your head, and sitting in the same booth over and over.
10. Family puzzle night
Pick a puzzle that challenges your kids without being too hard, and spend some time sitting around the table, working on it as a family. It’s nice to focus on something together and work towards a common goal, and puzzles are great for little developing brains!
11. Hide and seek in the dark
There’s something extra thrilling about hiding in the dark! Keep it safe by lighting a couple of lamps so you’re not in total pitch darkness, and encourage lots of roaring and screaming.
12. Family video viewing
Hook a laptop/iPad up to your TV and line up a list of family videos to watch together. Your kids will absolutely love seeing footage of themselves as babies and toddlers, and it’s just so special to remember it all together.
13. Kids’ choice
Ask your kids to come up with an idea themselves! Prompt them or offer suggestions if they’re totally lost, but give them that creative freedom to plan a night for the family to enjoy. Then help them strategize and work out what equipment or ingredients will be required beforehand. It’s an easy way to empower them and to foster a sense of responsibility.
14. Family art night
I don’t care if mum and dad are hopeless at art, and neither do your kids! Choose your medium (paint, polymer clay, drawing, etc), get everyone in old clothes, and go nuts! You may not create anything you want to hang proudly over the mantle, but there will no doubt be lots of giggles along the way.
15. Living room picnic
Choose a rainy night and declare “It’s a great night for a picnic!” Laugh at your family’s confused faces. Then set it all up on the living room floor. You could watch the rain outside while you eat, put on a movie, play games on the floor, have a family wrestling match, or just chat.
16. Vision night
This is a great one for kids that are getting a little older. Cook a nice meal or prepare a special dessert, sit around the table and ask everyone “What will life look like in one year? Five years? Ten years?” Remain open-minded and avoid shooting down anyone’s ideas, even if they seem outlandish. This is a night for imagining and dreaming together. Even if some of the ideas are unrealistic, it gives you great insight as to what your kids value and hope for.
17. Family vacation brainstorming
If you’ve got a family vacation coming up, involve your kids in some of the planning. Spend a night Googling together or checking out kid-friendly ideas on Pinterest for your chosen location. The kids will love knowing in advance what your vacation destination has to offer, and will have a sense of ownership over the activities if they’re a part of planning them.
18. Look at photo albums
There’s something special about looking at printed photos. Spend a night going through your old photos with your kids. Show them photos of you and your husband as children. Point out photos of old family pets and tell stories about them. Introduce them to childhood friends and share some of the experiences you had together. Show them your wedding album. And begin working together on your own family photo albums too!
19. Photo rally at home
I loved photo rallies as a kid! It was something we did at youth group, and it carried over into quite a few bachelorette nights that I attended as an adult! If you’re not familiar with the concept, you basically receive a list of things to photograph, and receive points for each item you photograph. There are always opportunities for bonus points, and sometimes there’s a prop that must be included in each photo (at youth group it was a potato!). Then after an hour or two, everyone gathers and takes it in turns showing their photos to everyone. There’s a prize for whoever gets the most points.
This is an easy and fun activity to replicate at home if you have enough camera devices for the whole family. Going through the photos together at the end is a definite highlight, and it can be as silly as you want!
20. Scavenger hunt
Create a scavenger hunt for the whole family to enjoy at home! There are plenty of printable lists on Pinterest – just search “home scavenger hunt” (this one looks great for small kids) or come up with your own ideas.
21. Attend a sports game
Or watch one on the screen! Even if it’s not a sport that you or your husband are that invested in, it can be really fun to cheer on a team and soak up the excitement of the crowd.
22. Make and write cards for loved ones just because
Let friends and family know you love them and you’re thinking of them. It’s an awesome quality to foster in your kids from a young age, even if it feels a bit like a chore at first. Make it fun by keeping a joke book on the table and including silly jokes in your cards. Talk together about each recipient, and what makes them awesome. It’s a great way to affirm your kids’ friendships, and also to help them see the good in people.
23. Worship and prayer by candle light
A regular family worship and prayer night is such a special routine to get into. It’s a wonderful way to model a healthy Christian lifestyle and encourage their spiritual walks.
24. Blanket forts
Find every blanket in the house and spend an evening creating some epic blanket forts together. It’s a great activity for letting off steam and having a laugh together. You could even string twinkle lights along the ground under the fort and read books or have a snack together under there before bed.
25. Video game night
Bust out the Nintendo Wii or whatever old-school game console you have laying around (we play Super Nintendo and Sega Megadrive games on video game night!) Make sure everyone gets a fair turn, cheer each other on, and finish the night by switching off the screen and having dessert or a hot chocolate together.
26. Family bowling night
When was the last time you went bowling? If you haven’t gone bowling as a family yet, this is a must! A trip to the bowling alley is a great way to have fun with your family – just remember to request those bumper guards.
27. Would you rather…?
This game will be sure to have the whole family in gales of laughter. Take turns coming up with different “would you rather?” scenarios, or find a family-friendly list like this one from Quirky Bohemian Mama.
28. Skating rink
Go super old school and swap your shoes for roller skates for a night. Your kids will pick it up really quickly and there will be a lot of laughs to be had. Bonus points if you can find a rink that pumps out 90s tunes!
I hope these fun family night ideas have got your heart pumping and your brain buzzing!
There are so many ideas on this list that we haven’t tried yet, and I can’t wait to get started.
What’s something your family likes to do on a family night in?
Got any awesome ideas that you would add to this list? I’d love to hear, so let me know in the comments!
And be sure to follow my Pinterest board Fun Kids Activities for tons more tips and ideas for creating fun for your family.