Family Game Night Ideas: 46 Activities and Games That Are Fun & Cheap

Best Family Game Night Games. Games for Kids. Board Games for Kids. Games for Groups.

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Are you looking for family game games that are inexpensive, fun and will have your family wanting to play again and again?

Have you ever wondered about what are some of the best family game night games for different age groups? 

We’ve got answers and videos.

Nothing brings families together like some friendly competition. And it’s even more fun when you pick some fun games to play together on a family game night.

And the games we recommend don’t cost a lot of money. As a matter of fact, some are completely free.

We’ve included an overview of each game, some instructions, and a video when we found one available.

There are hundreds of games suitable for family game nights. After polling every family we know, we compiled this growing list of the most popular games and put them in easy-to-use categories.

Below is our growing list of family game night ideas for your family.

A. Card Games

This collection of card games contains some classic games and some ones you may not have heard of. Most are great for multiple ages/generations to play. They are arranged alphabetically.

Uno card game being played on game night.

Plain playing cards and specialty game cards are all you need to have a great competition and a fun family time using game night games.

Dutch Blitz (8+)

Developed in Pennsylvania Dutch Country,

Dutch Blitz

is an easy to learn game for people of all ages. This card game is fast-paced and resembles a competitive version of solitaire. Check out this video on how to play Dutch Blitz.

Phase 10 (10+)

Phase 10 

is based on Liverpool Rummy and is an excellent card game for Family Game Nights.

A Phase is a combination of cards. Each phase consists of several cards of the same value, or in consecutive ascending order. Phases can also be made up of cards of the same color or a combination of these. Each phase must be completed before a player can advance to the next phase. 

Phase 10 is a little crazy to learn to play, but once you get it, you’ll love it. Annette Economides believes that seeing it played, makes it way easier to understand. Complete all 10 phases first and you win the game.

This game can take several hours to complete. So you may need to set a time limit or break your game into two sessions.

Qwitch (7+)


is referred to as the quick switch card game.

But letters and numbers can go up, go down, stay the same or switch at any time.

This game will become a favorite during your family game nights. It’s easy to learn and fun to play over and over again.

Spoons (4+)

The game of Spoons only requires a deck of cards and some spoons (one less than players).

Spoons is another fast-paced card game that will fire up your family’s competitive juices. Once someone gets 4 of a kind and grabs a spoon, all leftover spoons are fair game.

Fun facts:

I know of family members who broke my grandparent’s kitchen table playing Spoons!

Steve & Annette’s family games of spoons have actually drawn blood. One player grabbed a spoon with such force that Steve got hit above his eye and got a little cut. No, you shouldn’t require safety goggles to play spoons.

This is a great game for large groups of people during your game nights.

Three Thirteen (3/13) (10+)

This is a fun card game that is a little complicated. But once you get the hang of it, it’s really a wonderful family game night idea for kids and adults.

3 13 card game - three thirteen

Number of Players

Three Thirteen is for two or more players, best with two to four players, but we’ve played with up to six.

Three Thirteen is for two or more players, best with two to four players, but we’ve played with up to six.

A standard 52-card deck for two players, or two standard 52-card decks for three or more players.

The Goal of the Game
The goal of Three Thirteen is to use the cards in your hand to form sets and runs, accumulating the most possible points over 11 rounds of gameplay.

Game Setup
The first dealer is chosen randomly. After each round, it passes to the left.

Cards are dealt as follows:

  • Round 1: 3 cards (3s are wild)
  • Round 2: 4 cards (4s are wild)
  • Round 3: 5 cards (5s are wild)
  • Round 4: 6 cards (6s are wild)
  • Round 5: 7 cards (7s are wild)
  • Round 6: 8 cards (8s are wild)
  • Round 7: 9 cards (9s are wild)
  • Round 8: 10 cards (10s are wild)
  • Round 9: 11 cards (Jacks are wild)
  • Round 10: 12 cards (Queens are wild)
  • Round 11: 13 cards (Kings are wild)

All remaining cards are placed on the table, face down, to form the draw pile. The top card from the draw pile is turned face up to start the discard pile.

How to Play the Game

The player to the left of the dealer plays first. Play continues clockwise.

A player first draws a card, either the top face-down card on the draw pile or the top face-up card on the discard pile. If the player does not go out, they then discard a card, face-up, on the discard pile.

Cards are played for points by laying down sets in runs (2, 3, 4 of the same suit) or sets (4, 4, 4 all different suits)

Points are scored as follows:

  • Going out: the first person to play all of their cards earns 25 bonus points.
  • Cards that are laid down in sets or runs are scored as follows:
    • 2 – 9 = 5 points each
    • 10 – King=10 points each
    • Aces = 15 points each

Cards remaining in your hand, unplayed are subtracted from your total points in the values listed above.

This game can take between 2 and 3 hours to play.

Get more complete rules and variations from Wikipedia

Uno (7+)


is a classic card game that all families should own and play often.

It can be a hilarious, competitive and frustrating game. The goal is to be the first player to discard all your cards.

The frustration comes when you have worked your way down to just a couple of cards … only to get hit with a “Draw 4.” The fun happens when a player gets skipped, reversed or causes another player to have to pick up more cards.

Uno is great for large groups of people. We’ve played with 2 decks of Uno cards and 12 people. It’s is a lot of fun for all ages.

B. Drawing & Writing Games

These drawing and writing games are a lot of fun. And even if your drawing abilities are less than perfect you can still have a lot of fun. These are listed alphabetically. 

Pictionary drawing of a sick person and a home. Homesick

Paper, pencil, and your imagination can make for some really fun family game night times.

RELATED ARTICLE: Family Teamwork – How to Accomplish More


Cranium is a game based on teamwork, great for 12-16 players. There are four Categories for playing: guessing fun facts; acting and humming; sketching and sculpting, and word puzzles. There are 600 outrageous cards covering 14 fun activities – truly something for everyone.

We love that there are brainy questions, singing options, acting opportunities, drawing tasks, and artistic challenges. There really is something for everybody – which makes it a very inclusive game for large groups. We’ve had many laughs until you cry moments playing Cranium. It is manufactured by Hasbro.

Telephone/Pictionary Game

We learned this game from a college-aged friend a few years ago. Every time we play it we laugh until we cry. For Activities & Game Savings, you can’t beat this one!

Materials for Telephone Pictionary:

  • 1 pencil for each person
  • Paper, either 1 piece per person (accordion-folded so each person only sees one section of the paper) or each player gets between 4 and 9 pieces of paper (1 piece of paper per person playing- stapled into little pads). Watch the video below to see the pad example.
  • Number of players: between 4 and 9
  • Ages: between 6 and 100

This was the first time we ever played Telephone Pictionary—we loved it. We each used one sheet of paper that was accordion folded (purple sheets).

A group of people sitting around a table playing Telephone Pictionary Game

Here’s how we played Telephone Pictionary:

  1. Everyone writes a phrase on the first piece of paper.
    All of the pads of paper get passed to the right.
  2. The second person reads the phrase and draws a picture depicting the phrase on the second piece of paper.
    All of the pads of paper get passed to the right.
  3. The third person writes a phrase based on the second person’s drawing.
    All of the pads of paper get passed to the right.

The game continues until the pads of paper return to the person who wrote the first phrase. We take turns reading the cards and showing the pictures. It’s a simple game that can bring you hours of fun.

In this video, we explain how to play Telephone Pictionary.

C. Simple Numbers Game

Number games can be simple and fun, and most don’t require many materials. A perfect idea for an impromptu game night.

Dice Madness (8+)

This is a super simple game. You only need a pair of dice, sheets of paper and one pen or pencil.

Materials Needed:

  • 1 pencil or pen
  • A pair of dice
  • 1 sheet of paper for each participant.

That’s it. You’ll laugh, you’ll scream, you’ll lose your good manners and have a ton of fun.

Who said fun times require spending lots of money! Watch this video to see the game being played.

Game of Things (14+)

My family loves

Game of Things

Also, This game could easily be made at home.

A topic is read and then everyone writes a response. Once done, players try and guess who wrote specific responses. Earn points for correct guesses as well as being the last one left at the end of the round. The player with the most points or first to a predetermined point total wins.

Pictionary (8+)


is basically charades, but instead of acting out clues, you draw them.

If you don’t want to buy the original game, you can use your own large notepads and pencils.  Google can provide a list of words to use. This is a great group game for a family game night.

Scattergories (13+)


is a fast-paced game where unique answers will earn you points.Rounds have a time limit. And with more than 180 categories and 20 letters to use the fun never has to end. Another great one to try for your family game nights.

D. Word / Number Games

Scrabble game tiles spelling out family.

If you love letters, words, and numbers, then these games are for you.

Apples to Apples (8+) & Apples to Apples Jr. (7+)

Apples to Apples

is a family favorite and for good reason. Apples to Apples has an element of subjectivity, with players taking turns as the judge. Select a card from your hand that you think the judge  will like best. If the judge picks your card, you win the round.

This is another great group game for a game night or parties.

Apples to Apples Jr.

Bananagrams (7+)


is fun for the whole family as you race against each other, building crossword grids. The game is easy to learn, fun to play, and extremely portable, with tiles stored in a handy pouch shaped like a banana.

Boggle (6+)


Shake the 16 letters up and then compete in this head-to-head word search game, trying to find as many words within the letter grid during a 3-minute time limit. Letters must be adjoining and points are based on word length.

Steve & Annette altered the Boggle rules so their youngest children could participate in-game night. They allowed kids who were just learning to write to simply write down the letters they saw and earn points.

The next level up was writing down all of the two-letter words they saw. The real rules require a minimum of 3 letter words. Their goal was to include all of the kids in the game, and altering the rules helped. Again this is one of the great family games but only for small groups.

There is no limit to the number of people who play. Just keep in mind that the more folks you include, the more everyone’s words get canceled out. So 4 – 8 players is best.

Farkle (8+)


(or Farkel) is another dice rolling game, but it has an element of risk other games don’t have. You score off rolling the dice. Get points for rolling a 1, 5, or 3 of a kind.

You can keep your points and hand the dice over to the next player or risk your points by rolling the remaining dice, trying to collect even more points. Beware, though, that a Farkle occurs if you roll a no-point dice. A “Farkle” means you lose all of the points you earned that turn. Someone wins when a pre-determined total number is reached. A terrific one for family game night games.

Mad Libs

3 Mad Libs books on a countertop.

We also love playing Mad Libs, a fill-in-the-blank story game. This is a way to learn different parts of speech and have fun at the same time. The creators have written stories based on historical figures or sports or TV shows. But they have left select words in the story for you to fill in.

Guests are asked to give nouns, verbs, pronouns, adverbs, and other parts of speech to fill in the blanks. The hilarious part is that they have no clue what the subject of the story is. As a result, we usually end up laughing so hard we have tears in our eyes.

A perfect family game night game for 4 people up to 20. We’ve laughed so hard there were tears and sore stomachs.

Racko (7+)

Racko is a super easy game for 2-4 players and kids 8 and up. Cards are loaded into the rack at random. The goal is to get your cards in order from lowest to highest by discarding and picking up new cards.

The first person to get their cards in numeric order wins.

Great for playing and conversation. Easy for young and old to learn.

Scrabble (8+) & Scrabble Jr. (5+)

Another classic game,


is basically a giant crossword puzzle. Here you score points for each word you add to the board from your Scrabble tiles. Each letter is worth so many points, so big words rule in Scrabble.

But there is also a strategy of using high point value letters and placing them on high point value spaces on the game board. There are many ways to earn big points while playing scrabble. So if words are your thing, you should put this on your list to try!

Some families get very competitive with Scrabble. Sometimes families even resort to pulling out a dictionary to verify if words are real.

Steve & Annette were given a deluxe Scrabble game with a turntable as a wedding gift. They’ve been playing it ever since.

Scrabble Jr.

Yahtzee (8+) and Triple Yahtzee


is the classic dice-rolling game you grew up playing. Roll the dice trying to fill your scorecard. The highest score is 5 of a kind, aptly known as a “Yahtzee”. If you have the highest scores on your card after several rounds, you win! You can play 2 or 3 rounds if that’s all you have time for or several more.

E. Classic Games

Classic board game pawns for family game night.

These are games you may have played as a kid and would love to introduce your entire family to.


Charades has been around forever. Split into teams and players take turns acting out words, phrases, and scenarios while their teams try and guess within a certain time limit. Make up your own ideas or google charade ideas for help. This is best played with 12 players or more. And ranks high for game night games to play with groups of people.

This is a great video on how to play Charades

Get some of the best Charades tips and phrases from This is best when you have a larger group for game night.

Clue (8+) & Clue Jr. (5+)


is a mystery game where the goal is to figure out who committed murder in the mansion as well as where and how they did it. Players take notes as they move around the board, taking turns guessing and eliminating suspects. Clue is the perfect game for your next family game night. This is one of Annette’s favorite games – a must to be played each year on her birthday.

Clue Jr.

Hide and Seek

You are never too old to play Hide and Seek. This classic game is a family favorite. It’s fun finding new hiding spots in your house, yard or neighborhood. My kids have no chance when they play against me, which is another reason I love this game!

Monopoly (8+) & Monopoly Jr. (5+)



tends to take a long time to play, it is still a favorite of families everywhere. Pick out your game piece, arrange your starter money, and start buying properties. Nothing better than collecting money from your family every time they land on your property!

Monopoly Jr.

Sardines (Hide & Seek in the dark)

See description below 

Sorry (6+)

I love Sorry

It’s one of my favorite family game night games of all time. I grew up playing Sorry against my parents and siblings. The goal is to move all your game pieces around the board until they all reach Home. Families will love the revenge factor in Sorry, as you have chances to send your opponents back the start.

The Game of Life (8+) & The Game of Life Jr. (5+)

The Game of Life

is a lot like real life. Start out picking a college or career path, start a family, and try to make money as you move around the game board. If you are the wealthiest player at retirement, you win!

The Game of LIfe Jr.

Chutes and Ladders (4+)

This is an absolute classic game our kids loved to play. It can get a little frustrating if you keep getting sent backwards on the board. But it is easy to learn and lots of fun.

HASBRO GAMING:Chutes and Ladders Board Game

CandyLand (3+)

Our kids have played this game for hours. Candyland is a simple racing board game published by Milton Bradley. The game requires no reading and minimal counting skills, making it suitable for young children. There are lots of colorful pictures of candy all around the board.

Easy Board Game CandyLand Kingdom Of Sweet Adventures Board Game For Kids Ages 3 & Up

As they grew older they added some rules and called it “Killer Candyland.”

F. Funny Games

Two laughing boys playing games that make you laugh.

These games will make you laugh. And most of them use common household items to play or require nothing but people.


The Cup Game

All you need for this game are one cup for each person playing the game. Check out Annette and Steve’s video for instructions on how to play. The Cup Game starts slow, but quickly speeds up, challenging everyone to keep up. Steve & Annette shot this video of a The Cup Game during a game night with the Nevitt family many years ago. This is a great family game night games for all ages. It is best played with 8 or more players.

The Ha-Ha Game

Playing The Ha-Ha Game is really simple.

Everyone lies in a circle with each person’s head on their neighbor’s stomach.

  • The first person says Ha.
  • The second person says Ha Ha.
  • The third person says Ha Ha Ha.

You keep going around taking turns, adding one Ha with each person. It’s not as easy as it sounds, as fake laughs turn into real ones.

Families with younger children will really love this game on game night.

RELATED ARTICLE: Family Date Night Ideas

Pie Face (5+)

Who doesn’t want to see their family members get hit in the face with a handful of whipped cream?!

Pie Face

is a hilarious game that parents may dread, but kids will love. Playing Pie Face will get messy so make sure you play in an area that can be easily cleaned.


Sardines is basically Hide and Seek in reverse, in the dark. One player hides and everyone else looks for them. When you find the hidden person, you join them in their hiding spot. As the game goes on, the hiding spot starts to resemble a can of sardines, with everyone packed together in one spot. The last one to find the hidden person loses that round. Sardines is better when played throughout a house or small building.

This is another great family game night game for all ages and for large groups. Steve & Annette have hosted groups of 10 or more college and young adults to play Sardines in their house. No one wanted to leave and the rounds continued well into the “wee hours of the morning.” The creativity in hiding was amazing.


Wa (also called Wah or Ninja Wah) is a hilarious icebreaker game used at many youth camps but can be played by anyone. Check out this video to learn how to play.

Watch Ya Mouth (8+)

You’ve seen

Watch Ya Mouth

(or similar games) on YouTube videos or on TV. People stick plastic inserts into their mouths that keep them from closing and then they try and read cards aloud.

G. Strategy Games

Settlers of Catan Strategy Game. Another family game night game idea.

If your family is into planning and strategy games you’re going to love some of these.

Battleship (7+)

Described as the Classic Naval Combat Game,


is all about blowing your opponent’s ships out of the water. Families will love being in control of their own fleet and to hear the line from Hasbro’s commercials, “You sank my Battleship!” This is a two-player game.

Blokus (7+)


is an extremely easy game to learning in a matter of minutes, which is great for families of 4 people. There is only one rule in Blokus: each of your pieces must touch one other piece of the same color, but only at the corners. When no more pieces can be played, the game is over and the person with the least pieces left wins. This is another one of Annette’s favorite games.

Catan (10+) Catan Jr. (6+)

Known to most people by its former name,

Settlers of Catan

Catan is one of the most awarded games ever and for good reason. Catan is highly addicted. Compete against family members for control of the remote isle of Catan.

Catan Jr.

Puerto Rico (9+)

Puerto Rico

is a great strategy game for older kids (ages 12 and up). You compete against the other players as they select various roles in the operation of the island of Puerto Rico. You are basically a wealthy landowner who needs to put in various plantations to produce various goods, process those items and ship them to other countries.

When you ship your produced goods you earn victory points. You can also sell items to the trading house to earn income. There are lots of various strategies you can use to benefit your plantations and your purse while not benefiting the other players quite as much. A terrific choice for family game night games. This is the perfect game for 6 players. If you have more players, they can team up together.

Scotland Yard

Scottland Yard a board game for family game nights.

Scotland Yard is an Awesome Family Game! Mr. X (or Mrs.) is chased all over London by 5 detectives. If the detectives can catch him, they win. But if Mr. X can dodge the detectives by using his double moves on the Underground Railroad and buses or taxis – he wins. Awesome suspense and great family fun. When we play, Mr. X has been so closely watched that he’s resorted to wearing dark sunglasses and a hat so we can’t see where on the board he’s looking. It’s a lot of fun!

You can also find it here too. This video provides a great description of how the game is played:

January 1  – Update. MoneySmartFamily updates. New Years Day: Steve & Annette hosted daughter Abbey and husband Collin and daughter Becky and husband Nolan for the day. Watched movies and played several games. One of them was Scotland Yard it was a hoot. Both Abbey and Collin wanted to be Mister X so we played two rounds.

The five detectives successfully captured Mister X by the end of the first column. We proved once again that, “Crime doesn’t pay.”

Scotland Yard board game on a wooden table.

Sequence (7+)

The goal of


is to get 5 chips in a row (called a “Sequence”) on the board before your opponent. The number of Sequences required depends on how many players you have. There is some strategy involved as well as luck.

H. Guessing Games

A girl covering her eyes guessing.

These are great thinking games. Good for young and old alike. Games are listed alphabetically.

Catch Phrase (12+)

Catch Phrase

is an electronic game with 5,000 words and phrases loaded. Players split into teams and take turns trying to get teammates to guess the correct word or phrase. Get it right and pass the game to the other team.

The team holding the game unit when time runs out loses. So the other team gets the point. The first team to 7 points wins. A solid choice for a group and family night games.

Best played with 8 players or more.

Guess Who? (6+)

Loved by families everywhere,

Guess Who

tests your memory and your question asking skills. Players take turns asking questions, trying to guess what character their opponent picked out of 24 possibilities. Be the first to identify the character to win. A 2 player game.

Hedbandz (7+)


is similar to Guess Who except you are trying to guess your own identity which is on a card placed in your adjustable headband. Take turns asking yes or no questions until someone guesses correctly.

I. Paper & Pencil Games

These are some of the simplest and most inexpensive games out there. Just paper and a pencil and a little creativity.

Tic Tac Toe

tic tac toe board

If you haven’t taught your kids this simple game, now is the time. It’s great for teaching simple strategies, thinking ahead, and learning to be a good sport. If you’ve never played, get the rules and play an online version at


Hangman paper and pencil game drawing

Hangman can be played with two or more players. It’s a perfect game for family game night.

Start off by drawing a basic-looking gallows.

One player (the judge) thinks of a word and marks out the number of letters in dashes on the paper. Of course, they don’t tell anyone else the word.

Each player takes a turn guessing letters one at a time.

When a player guesses a correct letter, the judge writes that letter in the correct space.

If a player guesses incorrectly, the judge draws a body part on the person on the gallows.

The typical order is

  1. Head
  2. Torso
  3. Right Leg
  4. Left leg
  5. Left Arm
  6. Right arm
  7. Noose

There are seven wrong guesses before the game ends.

If a complete hangman is made before the correct word is guessed, the game ends.

You can increase the number of chances players get to guess by increasing the number of body parts that are added. Things like: left eye, right eye, nose, mouth, ears, etc.

A player wins the game when they guess the correct word.

The winning player becomes the judge of the next round.


You don’t need to buy the game to have fun. Just a piece of paper and a pencil will do.

Each player writes down three common phrases secretly on small pieces of paper.

The papers are folded up and put in a basket.

The first “artist” randomly picks a piece of paper from the basket and then tries to draw what is written. The goal is to get the other players to guess the phrase.

Variation: instead of common phrases, write books, characters/celebrities or films.

Best Family Game Night Games. Best Family Board Games. Best Games for Groups.

Family Game Night Games Wrap-Up

If your family doesn’t have family game nights yet, you owe it to yourself (and them) to start this week!

Family game nights create fun family moments everyone will remember long after your kids grow up. Play the games listed above or find your own family favorites. The money spent on a few games to create family time is worth the investment. You can also find games at thrift and consignment stores. Just make sure to count all the game pieces before you make a purchase.

Steve & Annette’s kids are grown now. But because of the time they spent playing family game night games, the adult kids and grandkids love to play games whenever they come over. The laughter still rings off the walls.

Does your family have any favorite games you play on family game nights? Any tips on creating a successful family game night? Please share them in the comments below!

Kevin Payne – the dad at contributed to this list. It also includes many games played by Steve & Annette Economides and their kids.

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A list of the best family game night ideas you could ever find.

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