Family Game Night

In our technologically advanced world, it is hard to have everyone in your family ditch the electronics and spend some quality time together. But here’s the thing…it is possible. How? By instituting a Family Game Night. I was lucky enough to collaborate with Linda Schmidt, co-owner of popular Chicago toy store, Cat and Mouse Games, to come up with some great game options for your family.

Family Game Night Tips and Suggestions -

One of my favorite childhood memories was when my sister and I would bring a stack of board games into the family, clear off the table, and spend the night competing at old school games. Our favorites? Monopoly (we actually had the Chic Chicago version…we were obviously the COOLEST Chicagoans on the block), UNO, dominoes, Connect Four, Battleship, Candy Land, and Scrabble. And while we still like to play those games as moms ourselves, Linda has introduced me to some modern and unique games that appeal to kids of all ages.

So what should you look for in a board game? As a mom and a teacher I am focused on game’s whimsical learning possibilities:

Different Levels of Learning: When initial instructions are basic but can be slightly altered to grow with the learner in order to become a more challenging game.

Hands on/Interactive Play: If all you are doing is moving a piece around a game board, it isn’t going to be very fun. When players have to get up and move, they become much more engaged and have a better time.

Promote Discussion: You know when you are playing a game that is so engrossing that you don’t want to stop for dinner or bedtime? Or one that you are still thinking and talking about the next day? THAT is the game you want in your family closet.

Teach and Reinforce Social Skills: Look for games that teach age appropriate social skills such as taking turns, following rules, problem solving, creative thinking, decision making, dealing with consequences, etc.

All of the games in this list can be purchased from locally owned Cat and Mouse Games (at both Bucktown and West Loop locations) or online. In addition they have the most extensive collection of puzzles I have ever seen, arts and crafts, as well as games for adults. I highly encourage you to visit one of the locations to try out some demo games and have fun spending some time blissfully unplugged.

Board Game Suggestions for ALL Families

Ages 2-4

Here Fishy Fishy!

First Orchard

Feed the Woozle

Koala Capers



Ages 4-6

Spy Tag

Hoot Owl Hoot

Gobblet Gobblers


Mystery Garden


Ages 6-8

Sleeping Queens

Enchanted Forest


Cat Tower


Ages 8+

Forbidden Island


Ocean Labyrinth



Family Game Night Trail Mix Bar -

But before you bust out the games, be sure to get some snacks to enjoy your Family Game Night. We love setting up a Make Your Own Trail Mix bar and everyone creates a different mix each week. Some ingredients to put out? Popcorn, pretzels, goldfish crackers, peanuts, veggie chips, chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries, sprinkles, etc.


Looking for other ways to bond as a family at home? Then this page is for you!

Happy Playing!
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  1. Alli says

    We always enjoyed playing board games with the kids. Now we play with our grandkids and they are so smart. You should see them play Scrabble. It’s our favorite.

  2. Mimi "MimiCuteLips" Green says

    As a kid I loved playing games, mostly with my sister and cousins. My Mom wasn’t into board games but she taught us a lot of car games.

    We’ve not had an official game night at our home but that is a great idea. We have games the four year old can play as well.

  3. Jennifer says

    Family game night is something you don’t hear happening as often as when I was a kid. I have not heard of a lot of these games before so will have to try them out with my kids.

  4. Linda Schmidt says

    We started playing games with our kids when they were very young, and even though they’re teenagers now, we still enjoy family game nights together. It truly is a great way to connect and enjoy some time together. It makes me so happy to hear about other families who also enjoy playing together; thanks for writing about game night, Amanda!

    • Amanda says

      Thanks for all of your great suggestions. So many great new games for us to explore, especially with a snowstorm coming!

  5. Echo says

    These are great suggestions! I am a big fan of board games and try to play them often with my kids. It’s a great way to bond, talk and have fun!

  6. Jeanine says

    These are great suggestions! I love family game night. We haven’t had one in a little bit so we need to get back into it! So fun.

  7. claudia krusch says

    Family game night is something you don’t hear happening as often as when I was a kid. We try doing it as a family at least once a month! I have not heard of a lot of these games before.

  8. Rebecca Swenor says

    Board games are always great for family fun every week. I love the Connect Four and UNO games. I am really going to have to check out the Cat and Mouse Games for sure online.

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