Board games and party games are fun for the whole family . . . if you choose wisely! We’ve put together a list for all occasions, from family game night with little kids to big family gatherings where everyone wants to play together. There are so many choices out there, from cooperative games designed to let toddlers play along to party games that expand to let all the cousins and grandparents in on the action. Check out our list for some fresh new ideas to play with your family.
Do you have more ideas? We would love to hear them!
This list contains Amazon affiliate links, which earn us a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Games for Groups, Parties, and Family Gatherings
What makes a great game for a big family gathering or a party? To me, it’s gotta:
- Take less than a minute to understand the rules
- Be designed for lots of players
- Appeal to all ages, from the preschoolers to the college kids to great-grandma
- Move quickly, without a lot of waiting around while people take their turns
- Be exciting to get everyone cheering along!
The Kidlist team did some brainstorming and came up with a list of great games to play with big families, family reunions, and family parties. A few of our favorite picks include:
My huge extended family loves to play this game, and it gets crazy competitive for adults and kids alike! It’s easy to play and moves very quickly.
The set comes with dice that have either L (pass one chip to the left), C (put one in the center, which takes it out of play), R (pass one to the right), and black pips, which mean take no action. Each player takes a turn rolling as many dice as he or she has chips. Losing all your chips doesn’t mean you are out; if another player rolls an L or an R, you can get right back in. The winner is the last player with chips left, and they take all the chips (or money, if you’re taking a page out of my grandma’s book and playing with quarters) in the center pot.
Annie’s family gets really competitive with Spoons! It’s a simple game that levels the playing field so no one has the advantage, no matter how young you are.
To play, you need a deck of cards and one less spoon than there are players. Spread out the spoons on the table so everyone has equal access to them. Deal four cards to each player. The goal is to get four of a kind. The dealer starts by picking up a card off the top of the deck and either takes it and passes their discard or simply passes it to the left. The last player places their discard into a pile. The first person to make four of a kind in their hand takes a spoon. As soon as the first spoon is taken, everyone else can take a spoon. The player left without a spoon gets a letter and when you spell out S-P-O-O-N, you are out. The last player in the game wins. Simple but so fun!
This specifically-designed game has a picture charade on every card so that non-readers can play along with older kids. It’s great fun as the whole family tries to guess the charades before time runs out. It’s really entertaining and interesting to see how everyone interprets the cards and figures out how to portray them so others can guess!
There’s also a version where the whole team acts out clues for one person instead of the opposite. In 60 seconds, teams attempt to guess as many words or phrases as they can and the team with the most correct guesses wins.
This game was created by a 7-year-old and is sure to bring fun and laughter to your family.
We really enjoy playing this game because it incorporates drawing and interaction within your family while not requiring you to be an artist.
We have the classic version of Pictionary and if the younger players don’t know what one of the words means they just pick a new card. One of the perks of this game is that you are on teams, so if the kids need to ask a question it doesn’t disrupt the game to talk to another player on his or her team. Everyone can participate and since the drawings are quick, no one has to feel funny about their artistic ability.
My son recently received this game for his birthday and we have been having so much fun playing together! You read a question and each person (or team) makes a guess as to what the numerical answer would be, like “In inches, what is the world record high jump for a pig?” Sometimes the questions are funny and sometimes they are just really interesting! Everyone then puts little wooden pieces, called meeples, on what they believe is the correct answer. Then the answer is read and points are awarded.
Pull out a wooden brick without crashing the stack! This game is only limited by how many people can sit around the tower. Side note from Annie: “I met the inventor of this game (Leslie Scott). She is so sweet and an awesome woman! I loved hearing the story of how she launched Jenga at the London Toy Fair in 1983 during a time when the toy and game field was male dominated.”
There is a junior version of this game that is listed for ages 9+, but I disagree with that rating. If you play teams you can easily play with younger players and discuss what the words mean that are unfamiliar to them and come up with a fun comparison card. We have played and included our six year old without a problem and she had fun joining in. Since it’s all about word associations, it’s very entertaining to hear what everyone comes up with!
The first player to have all ten dice to show the same number wins! You can adapt this game for really young players by giving them less dice, but since the concept is visual it’s an easy game to play with a wide range of ages. Click here to see other games that you can play with Tenzi dice.
This game has resulted in some pretty funny YouTube videos. Score a point every time you turn the handle without getting splatted, but watch out because you could get a pie in the face! All you need is this game and some whipped cream.
Up to 10 players can play this classic card game. Take turns matching a card in their hand with the current card shown on top of the deck either by color or number.
Our children’s preschool adapts this game for 3-year-olds by removing the “special” cards like skips, wilds, and reverses, then having the kids start with a hand of five instead of seven cards.
Rummikub is a ton of fun, especially once everyone gets the hang of how to start playing their tiles! There is a standard edition for 2-4 players and another option for 6 players.
We love this game for its endless possibilities, and it’s fun for a big group. This one requires players to give one-word clues to get their team to guess related words without accidentally picking cards that can give points to the other team . . . or spell an immediate game over. Think of it like a slower-paced Taboo with higher stakes.
Family Games that Include Young Kids
Peaceable Kingdom has a great selection of cooperative games for young children, including Count Your Chickens, Race to the Treasure, and Hoot Owl Hoot (the latter two recommended by Kidlist reader Lexi S.). Because everyone is working towards the same goal, it gives kids a chance to practice taking turns and learning rules without the stakes feeling too high. These are great for preschoolers!
Eye Found It is an I spy style trivia game with different versions such as Disney, Dreamworks, Star Wars, and Richard Scarry for ages 4 and up!
SET is fun card game of matching different sets of cards to win. Ages 4 and up.
Left Right Center is a dice games for ages 5 and up that is easy to pick up on and fun for a diverse age group.
Qwirkle is a great game for ages 6 and up as you match tiles based on color and shape. You develop strategy and is a great game for a wide range of ages in your house.
Sorry is a board game for ages 6 and up in which players scoot, bump, and slide their pieces around the board as they try to get their pieces home.
Wits and Wagers is a guessing game for ages 6 and over. A question is asked and everyone guesses their answer. The closest wins!
Tenzi is a dice game with many different variations that is easy to learn and play as you roll ten dice as fast as you can. Tenzi is best for ages 7 and up.
Exploding Kittens is a game of chance to keep your cards and not pick up the exploding kitten card. It involved some strategy and some luck, similar to Uno. Another version of this games includes Unstable Unicorns. This games is geared for ages 7 and up.
Blockus is for ages 7 and up for up to 4 players. Blockus is good for strategy and spatial awareness.
Pictopia is a picture trivia game with many different versions available, such as Disney and Star Wars. This picture games is suitable for ages 7 and up!
Bananagrams challenges players to create a crossword puzzle of words with letter tiles. Great for spelling and vocabulary, this game is for ages 7 and up.
Family Games that Include Elementary Schoolers
Rummikub is a number tile game that involves strategy and luck in grouping numbers together as theme board constantly changes. This game is suitable for ages 8 and up.
Five Crowns is a rummy style card game with wild cards for ages 8 and up.
Scrabble is a vocabulary building game trying to score the highest points for each word played. Even as adults, my husband and I play this on date nights! Scrabble is a great game for ages 8 and up.
Just One is a great cooperative party game for ages 8 and over in which you have to give clues to guess as many mystery words as you can.
Farkle is an easy dice game for ages 8 and up that involves counting, and scoring the most per roll. This game is great for travel!
Monopoly Deal is a card game version of the Monopoly board games that you can play in less then 15 minutes! Ages 8 and up.
Pass the Pigs Dice Game A fun dice game that uses pigs instead of traditional dice. Toss the little pigs and see if you can be the first to get 100 points. Pass the pigs is geared towards ages 8 and up.
One Night Werewolf has a strange name, but is a fast paced group card/solve it/strategy games. Each person gets role and tries to find the werewolf. Suitable for ages 8 and up.
Yahtzee always makes for a family games night easy choice. It’s a dice games for ages 8 and up based on casino hands like a full house or a straight.
Blank Slate is a word association game for ages 8 and up that is easy to learn and play.
Catchphrase is an electronic timing game to try to get your team to guess the word on the display. There is also an app for that called Outburst!
Carcasonne is a tile playing board game in which you build a countryside around a fortified city. For ages 8 and up. Introduce younger kids to this game by removing the “fields” scoring, which is the hardest for young kids to keep track of. In fact, here’s our 5-year-old gloating after taking over one of my husband’s cities:
Quiddler word game is geared towards ages 8 and up creating words based on the letter cards drawn.
Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza a matching card game of random words to have you laughing and playing over and over. For ages 8 and up.
Mexican Train (Dominoes) This game of dominoes is for ages 8 and up that my family has played many holidays when I was a kid.
Cards Against Humanity: Family Edition: Kidlist reader Danielle H. reports that after her son got this family-friendly revamp of this game for Christmas, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen them laugh so hard.”
It’s recommended for ages 8+ and swaps out adult humor for silliness, gross-out laughs, and plenty of potty humor. This is a tamed-down version, but it is still Cards Against Humanity, so don’t expect it to be squeaky-clean; online reviewers recommend going through the deck before you play with your kids and removing any cards you think might cross the line for your family.
Family Games that Include Ages 10 and Up
Hellapagos is a cooperative game trying to escape an island as you run low on food and supplies. The game is played as a team, until the end! This game is for ages 10 and up.
Ticket to Ride is a board game with a trip, by train, around North America. You collect cards and train routes to get to your destination cities throughout the country. This game is for ages 14 and up.
Telestrations is a pictionary-style telephone game for ages 12 and up that is sure to get everyone laughing at the crazy pictures your family draws.
Settlers of Catan is a great board game for ages 10 and up involving strategy as you build, trade, settle your own civilization. Make sure you have plenty of time to play this game! Younger kids who tend to enjoy strategy board games can play this one, too; our 7-year-old loves it. There’s also a Settlers of Catan Junior version, which is a great step-up before the real game.
Exit: The Game is an escape room game that has many variations. They are a one time use, but you can choose different versions and then swap games with friends. Ages 10 and up.
Forbidden Island is a cooperative strategy game to survive on an island together. This game is for ages 10 and up.
Local Toy Stores in Chicago’s West Suburbs
The games we have suggested have links to purchase on Amazon (and if you do, we’ll earn a small commission). But we’d love you to support our community’s local businesses! Some of these locations (such as Fair Game) also host game events, tournaments, and tutorials for kids.
Anderson’s Toy Shop
111 W Jefferson Avenue
Naperville, IL 60540
Dungeon Cat Gaming
652 Roosevelt Road
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
Fair Game Downers Grove
5147 Main Street
Downers Grove, IL 60515
Fair Game La Grange
19 South La Grange Road
La Grange, IL 60525
Fair Game Geneva
214 W State Street
Geneva, IL 60134
900 Roosevelt Road
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
19 S. Prospect Avenue
Clarendon Hills, IL 60521
121 S Washington Street
Naperville, IL 60540
2863 W. 95th Street
Naperville, IL 60564
MOORE Toys & Gadgets
107 E Front Street
Wheaton, IL 60187
My Special Toy Store
5137 Main Street
Downers Grove, IL 60515
The Wandering Dragon
15032 S. Des Plaines Street
Plainfield, IL 60544
Purple Me Green
Located in the Woodfield Mall
E111A Woodfield Mall Drive
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Looking for more family activities for at home? Our At-Home Bucket List is full of ideas!