Do your kids roll their eyes at you when the topic of spending a weekend evening hanging out with mom and dad comes up? There are 936 weekends between when a child is born and the time he or she turns 18. That may seem like a lot, but as every parent learns, time flies by quickly when you are raising a child. Are you making the most out of this finite number of weekends by spending quality time and making memorable moments with your children?

Instead of just grabbing a board game from a closet shelf, consider adding some pizzazz to the occasion to build family enthusiasm for spending time together. Game nights are a great way to get the family to bond and have fun together. Here are a few ideas for fun family game night themes:

Quidditch & Magical Spells

We recently visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for an evening with everyone dressing up as a witch or wizard for a fun family game night. Sticking with the theme, dinner for the night was classic British fish and chips. After dinner we joined together to fight the forces of evil in USAopoly’s Hogwarts Battle.

In this cooperative deck-building card game, four players each take on the role of a Hogwarts student (Harry, Ron, Hermione, or Neville). All must work together to defeat the villains led by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to win the game. Players have to think strategically and communicate with one another. The goal is to gain and utilize ally characters, spells, and magical items from the Harry Potter books and movies which draws everyone into the game and gets them participating.

What’s really nice about Hogwarts Battle is that instead of competing against each other, your family acts as a team in your effort to be victorious versus Lord Voldemort and his cronies. Of course we had to toast our victory in Hogwarts Battle with some Butterbeer we conjured up ourselves in the kitchen.

If you want to make some for yourselves here is how we did it:

  • Place some glass mugs in the freezer until they are frosted.
  • Fill the mugs 3/4 of the way with cream soda.
  • Add a teaspoon of caramel sauce and stir it around until it blends with the cream soda.
  • lace some whip cream in a bowl and mix it together with a teaspoon of butterscotch syrup.
  • Add a dollop of the whip cream mixture to each mug to create the froth for your ButterBeer. Voila there you have it! Delicious!

Weekend Kick Off

Kick off the weekend by throwing on your favorite team’s jerseys for a sports-themed family game night. Enjoy all the foods you’d eat in a stadium parking lot before attending a ball game, but in the comfort of your kitchen or backyard. If you want to be either adventurous or really wacky have a family tailgate party in your driveway. After you eat, act like you are at a tailgate by tossing a football around or playing catch in the back yard.


If it is cold or rainy outside, University GamesIndoor Cornhole will bring out your family’s competitive spirit. Sing the National Anthem pretending a Super Bowl audience is watching you – do you know all the words? Wrap up your evening with a family tournament of Madden on XBOX, MLB: The Show on Playstation, or bowling with Wii Sports.

Of course you’re going to want desert, too. Buy some boxes of Cracker Jacks, bake up some hot pretzels, or pop some popcorn to snack on like you would when at a stadium cheering on the home team.

Super Sleuths

Escape Room attractions are where people pay to be locked in a themed space for an hour as they try to uncover clues to solve a mystery before a timer runs out. ThinkFun’s ESCAPE THE ROOM games let you enjoy this experience in your own home without being locked in a room. They have two mysteries to choose from: Mystery at Stargazer’s Mansion or Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat. 3 to 8 players are challenged to uncover clues and solve puzzles within 90 minutes. Working together can your family beat the clock to prove yourselves as the neighborhood’s greatest detectives? ThinkFun’s website provides suggestions for dressing up, music to play, and decorating your room to set the mood for sleuthing these mysteries.

Go For the Gold

Host a family Olympics. Have the kids make medals as a craft project at the beginning of the evening for “winners “to wear. Carbo-load like athletes by enjoying a big spaghetti dinner. Engage in a round robin competition of activities where the kids have an edge over the parents. Things like jumping rope, hulu hooping, hop scotch, a potato sack race and water balloon toss, can create fun rivalry while you play together. If you want to make it interesting, have a wager. Whoever wins the most “events” has his or her chores split up to be done by everyone else for the next week.

You don’t need to bust your family budget to have an extraordinary game night. With a bit of creativity you can have an affordable and entertaining experience. Plus, experiences that everyone in the family wants to participate in. Pick something that you know your kids love and craft some age-appropriate activities around it.

Maybe the children in your life would prefer doing activities revolving around Cat in the Hat, Disney Princesses, Star Wars or a Zombie Apocalypse. Be artistic, be silly, be competitive. Most importantly, be present in the moment and make some memories. While you can still capture your children’s attention, enjoy a fun night at home with them!