While we have yet to instate a family game night (yesterday, Scout tried to dump of box of playing cards through the heater vents, so we’ve got a ways to go over here), I’ll forever be an advocate for a good old-fashioned match of wits. Growing up, it was always Trivial Pursuit with my grandparents, sun tea sloshing around in sweaty glasses. Taboo at the beach with cousins, our mouths full of sandy goldfish crackers. UpWords during my sister’s (serious) spelling bee prep. Mall Madness or Dream Phone at every slumber party until we moved on to more important things, like face masks and SNL.
Once, at my grandparents’ farm, one of my father’s (many) brothers invented a slapped-together rendition of Balderdash with nothing but a dictionary and a borrowed pack of index cards. We played noisily, yelling Bull! from sun-up to sun-down, stopping just once for a peach pie break (but only because it was a la mode).
Games are it for me, is what I’m saying. Here are a few – new and old – we love to love:
With the Young Kids
A modern (beautiful) spin on dominoes, this one’s both a puzzle and a game in one and offers multiple sets of difficulty levels for a variety of ages. Bee almost always reaches for this one first. Find it here ($17).
Just the click-clack-clack alone takes me back to the plaid sofas and shag carpet of my childhood. Plus, it’s short enough to squeeze in a quick round before dinner. Win/win! Find the classic version ($20) here.
An easy starter lesson for the young kid dipping their toe into strategic choices and priorities, but without the mind-numbing pace of Candyland or Chutes & Ladders. Bee never has to twist my arm to play this one with her. Find the retro edition ($14) here.
I can’t help it; I’ll always love Uno. I keep a pack in the car or in our suitcase to stave off travel boredom, but it’s just as fun around the kitchen table after breakfast. Find the retro edition ($11) here.
With Another Couple
If you’re not a Midwesterner (or apparently, Australian?), euchre might be a mystery to you. The official rules are here, but the best thing about a euchre game night is that you can carry on a conversation while you play (depending on how competitive your opponents are), so it’s perfect for double date night fun.
(I know; I’m always talking puzzles.) But of note: While not necessarily a traditional game, I love having a puzzle started so social guests can linger and talk while their introvert spouses have something to do. I always find it fascinating how the quieter crowd suddenly opens up when their hands and minds are a bit preoccupied finding the missing corner piece. Current favorite puzzle (80’s pop culture!) is here.
At a Party
Easy to set up, simple to learn, this one’s manageable for a crowd when divided into teams. (I’m notoriously bad, fair warning if we’re ever paired together.) The app is here (99 cents), but there’s also a game version available here ($20).
Invite a few of your favorite couples for game night to see how well you truly know them (I’m ever-surprised by every single answer, always). This one’s perfect for family and friends alike, and is always good for a hundred laughs – we play it almost every year at Thanksgiving. Find it here ($20).
For All Ages
Equal parts strategy and skill, we couldn’t stop playing this one in London. It’s an ideal mix for older kids and parents, or with larger families. There’s some focus involved (and a timer for the deep, i.e. slowwwwww thinkers), so it’s a good choice for pulling in even the most ambivalent of players. Find it here ($15).
I was hesitant to encourage phone usage at the table, but after giving this one a test run at Christmas, it’s surprisingly fun and entirely funny – whether you’re a tech addict or are entirely screen averse. (Any non-phone-users get to be the judge!) Find it here ($19).
A classic if ever there was one, Ken and I played a nightly round of Checkers for nearly four years straight in L.A. We’ve since shelved the tradition, but I have a feeling he’s up for a rematch soon enough. Find the outdoor version here ($17).
p.s. Tell me: what are your game night favorites? I’d love to add to the list!