How to Plan a Family Game Night for Your Homeschool Group
Some of the most fun that our family – as in, the entire family, Dad included – has had with our local homeschool group are the family game nights we’ve held. I’ve been thinking lately that it’s been too long since we’ve had one of these just-for-fun gatherings and it’s time to plan another one.
Y’all should know by now that I’m all about easy, so I wanted to share with you a few simple tips on how to plan a family game night for your homeschool group.
If your group is anything like mine, the majority of activities are during the day so that moms (or the schooling parent) and kids can attend without taking coveted family time away from the evenings.
If your husband is anything like mine, that’s just fine with him because it means he doesn’t have to make conversation with strangers.
A family game night is great, though, because it gets everyone involved and includes activities that give everyone a chance to interact and get to know each other in a laid-back setting.
So, what’s involved in planning this little shindig?
1. Find a location. A church fellowship hall or community center are great options because they usually have the basics that you need:
- a place to serve food
- basic sports equipment such as basketball goals, a volleyball net, or a four-square grid
The times we’ve had a family game night, we’ve been able to secure a church fellowship hall at no cost. We just had to make sure we cleaned up afterward. A community center may involve a rental fee, but it’s usually not bad split up between participating families.
2. Plan for food. You know there’s got to be food. All that game-playing makes people hungry. Most of our group’s events are done potluck-style. Everyone brings a main dish, side dish, or dessert and a drink such as a 2-liter soda, gallon of something (preferably sweet tea), water bottles, or juice boxes.
We’ve found that it’s easiest for one person to pick up all the paper goods (plates, napkins, cups, plastic utensils) and have each family bring a dollar or two to cover the cost.
I bought a plastic tote for our group so that I could store our paper goods between events and restock as necessary. Depending on turnout, I don’t always need to collect money each time, just when I need to restock.
3. Bring games. We ask everyone to bring a few of their family’s favorite games. We try to make sure we have easier games for the younger kids, too, though sometimes they just like to play with each other while the older kids and parents play. The little ones sometimes enjoying “helping” a parent or sibling play, as well.
Those basketball goals and volleyball nets come in handy for those who’d rather play a team sport than a board game. For these events, the emphasis is on fun, so there aren’t any hard and fast rules about what people do – a sport, a board game, or just chit chat – as long as everyone is being safe and respectful.
A couple of rules that we do follow is that all the pieces for a particular game stay on the table where that game is being played and all the pieces are put back in the box when it’s not being played. That way, everyone can go back home with all the pieces of the games they brought.
We’ve discovered some great new (to us) games at family games nights, such as Pit (much more fun than it sounds) and enjoyed some old favorites with new friends.
Over that last decade or so, I’ve planned dozens of events for our local homeschool group and I am happy to share those ideas with you! I have put together a 22-page guide to planning activities for your homeschool group – whether it be a formal group of a few hundred or an informal group of a few families.
52 Weeks of Homeschool Group Activities offers an idea for each week of the year, loosely organized by season, along with planning tips for events and field trips. I’m offering this resource as a free download to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers subscribers.
To get your copy of 52 Weeks of Homeschool Group Activities for free, just enter your email address below to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with download instructions. If you’re already a subscriber, be watching your email for an opportunity to download your free copy.
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Have you ever hosted a family game night? What tips would you add? What are some of your family’s favorite games?
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Good idea. We haven’t had a game night in awhile either.
Rather than using another facility, we have the game nights at our home. Our house isn’t large, but we spread out into different rooms. Word games in the living room, strategy games in the dining room, sports games in the basement. I think our largest group consisted of 4 or 5 other families. One year we had a winter Olympic party and went to the pond across the street to play a little hockey first.
I can’t remember the food, but I am all about easy. I am guessing we picked up pizzas and then everybody contributed munchies and deserts.
We did organize a game night for our church once. It was pot-luck and everyone brought games they enjoyed. The problem with that was that the adults were more interested in just sitting and socializing after dinner and really didn’t play any games. I think if we wanted more adults to play, we should skip the dinner and just maybe make it a dessert event.
School (we have one in public school and one at home) won’t start here for another several weeks (after Labor Day), but I think a game night to start off the year would be fun!
Thanks for the reminder!
Our homeschool support group has monthly family nights. Most are holiday/season themed. For example, our Aug. theme is (Not) Back to School, the potluck is breakfast foods, we will wear our “school uniforms” (aka pajamas, gene jumpers, Christian t’s, art smocks,,,) and the games shared will be favorite learning games like Apples to Apples Bible Edition and Scrabble. Also, everyone is bringing school supplies to share for take home treatbags.
What a fun idea! My family used to play Pit after Thanksgiving dinner. It is a loud and fun game.
Our favorite games right now are Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride.
I want to do this with our church family! I think it is a great way to get to know other families and make new friends.
Pit is so much fun! I remember playing it as a kid…I still have the game that was our families when I was growing up. My kids use the bell as their hotel desk bell. Someday, they will learn the real game. Thanks for the ideas, I think we will try this with our co-op this year.
This just made me so excited to plan an event like this! I LOVE games and so does my whole family. Now to gather some friends and get our game on!!