Friday, January 22, 2016

Family Night Ideas {Guest Post} Updated!

Family Night
A guest post by Rebecca Lantz
BMW serving in Africa

One of the many blessings of living on the mission field (at least where we are) is the extra family time that we have.  Here in Uganda, every evening the sun goes down at 7pm, year round.  Because of mosquitoes that carry malaria parasites, we avoid going outside after dark.  Therefore, every evening from 7pm on, we are in our house with just our family.

For our family, we have each night allotted for something – a couple of nights are scheduled for watching a sermon online so that we can be fed spiritually.  One night is scheduled as Family Movie Night.  But one night a week we have Family Night, with each of our children taking a turn to pick out something for everyone to do together as a family.  This has been our struggle… half of our family love board and card games, but half don’t.  And even for the ones who do enjoy them, it gets old.  Add in that over half of my children are now teenagers, and it makes it even harder to find something that everyone would be able to participate in.  So the last few months, I have been working on coming up with some creative family night activities that we can do.

Here’s my list:
1. Hide and Seek in the dark
2. Play one Wii game (a racing one is fun), but rotate the family through the remotes (we have four).  So after each race, everyone moves down a seat, kicking out one person and entering in a new driver for that race.
3. Read a book out loud (we like the Hank the Cowdog books – funny for young and old!)
4. Bake together – soft pretzels, donuts, pizza, decorate cookies
5. Star/planet gaze – even without a telescope, there are many apps that show right where planets and satellites are in the night sky and give information about each one.
6. Make a tent/fort in the living room and eat dinner in it.  Tell campfire stories or the parents can tell stories from when they were a child!
7. Do a craft together

8. Put on puppet shows.  Set up a sheet in the living room.  Divide the family into teams and each one puts on a show for the others.  Get creative with things you can use for puppets or props!
9. Color together with crayons, markers, or paints.  You can print off adult coloring pages online that are actually fun for Mom and Dad to do too – even verses!
10. Do a puzzle together – or two simpler puzzles as teams and compete who can finish theirs faster!
11. Make a play/movie/or a commercial and video it.  The kids love to watch these years later!  Make a commercial for your particular country or a product that you can only find where you live.  We made a video about questions that Americans asked our children while we were on furlough.  We then acted out the reality to that question – ie. “Do you ride elephants to school?”  (Yes, that was an actual question we received!), then we showed our son ‘waking up’ and crawling out of bed to his desk right beside his bed!
12. Put on some classical music and have a Ballroom dance time
13. Do a foosball tournament
14. Make a campfire in the backyard (we do one in our garden when the plants are dead during the dry season).  Roast marshmallows or hot dogs if you can get them, or just let the kids burn sticks in the fire.  Sing or tell stories.  A favorite of ours is for one person to say the first sentence in a story, then the next person continues the story but with only one sentence, then the next person, etc.
15. Play charades – do a theme like movie characters, Bible characters, or sometimes we like to use cards from the Jr. version of Apples to Apples
16. Have a photo shoot.  Put up a sheet for the background.  Bring out props like hats, dress up clothes, umbrellas, etc. and be goofy!  Great for photos of the kids to send to Grandparents!

17. Listen to a Patch the Pirate story (or another CD) while giving each other backscratches
18. Watch old family videos or look through old family photos
19. Put on an X Factor show.  Have two or three ‘Judges’ - give them a piece of paper with a big ‘X’ on one side and a ‘check mark’ on the other.  The other family members can sing a song, do a short skit, or mime something (our children like to sing a song in ‘opposite language’ – you say the opposite of what the song says, like “Keep it in” instead of “Let it go”).  Then the Judges vote.  Rotate the Judges often so everyone has a chance to judge and perform.
20. Make a gingerbread truck/monster/etc.
21. Put together a scavenger hunt.  Divide the family in teams and see who’s done the fastest.
22. Do shadow puppets on the wall – great for if power is off!
23. Have one person (the ‘director’) make up a story while everyone else acts it out.  The ‘director’ tells each family member who/what they are and what to do.  Keep the stories short so a few get a turn to ‘direct’.
24. Play Lego Charades – you have to use Legos to help them guess
25. Make two or three cakes ahead of time (just one layer round or square cakes) and one batch of frosting divided into bowls of different colors.  Bring out all your sprinkles, etc. and divide the family into teams.  Have a competition of who decorates their cake the best.  You can even put a picture of the cakes on Facebook or email it to family to get votes.  *Agree ahead of time whether toys are allowed to be used as decorations!

26. Place an end table or desk in the middle of the living room with a bell on it (or an upside down cereal bowl they have to slap, if you don’t have a bell).  Divide the family into two teams and have them compete two by two (one from each team) to answer the questions first.  You can get quiz questions online.  Our favorite quiz questions were about Disney movies (that leveled the playing field for kids vs. Dad and Mom!), but you could do Bible questions, educational questions, etc.

27. Pick an old picture from when the kids were younger and re-make it!  Try to match clothing, backgrounds, and facial expressions.  Then send the old and new photos out to family members.

28. Clear off your dining room table and place a ping pong ball in the middle.  Position everyone around the table in teams.  Everyone tries to blow the ball off the other team’s side of the table while holding their hands behind their backs.  Or you can blow through straws to avoid too much spit flying!  Or you can use craft pom-pom balls of two different colors and tape a piece of paper in the middle of the table.  See which team can blow all of their color pom-poms onto the paper first.
29. Make a couple of batches of Playdough and get creative!  Even our teens still like to do this!
30. If you have the equipment, play mini ping pong on the dining room table.

I asked for help from other missionaries with ideas for Family Night.  I haven’t tried these, but they sound like fun!  I’ve also added in a few from websites online.

31. Mad Gab - you can find lists online
32. Have a bake off
33. A simple version of “Chopped” – give everyone the same few random food items in a basket and each person (or team) has to make a dessert/dish in a time limit
34. Do a word search - each person has a different color of marker but everyone uses the same word search. Everyone looks for words at the same time and marks it with their own color of marker. At the end, the person with the most words marked in their color wins.
35. Each person grabs a random handful of Legos and has to use every piece making something creative. Then vote or have an official judge who says which creation is the best!
36. Build a simple ramp (or split a piece of pipe in half lengthwise) and have each person in the family pick a different toy car or a marble and race them two at a time. Make it a tournament with popcorn and a ribbon for the winner!
37. Put out all the things for making ice cream sundaes and have the older kids dress up like they're the workers and have the family go to the "ice cream shop"!  
38. Look for Minute to Win It games online and do them as a family. Pinterest has many.
39. Make a "Wheel of Doom" to spin and see which utensil each person has to use for eating dinner/ice cream/popcorn/cake/etc. (choices could be eating with a whisk, a baby spoon, a soup ladle, your hands, etc.!)
40. Make your own version of a cornhole game.  
41. Collect your recyclables for a while (empty bottles, cereal boxes, tissue boxes, tp rolls, etc.), then use them to make robots or animals.
42. Unwind a skein of yarn or some string and tape it in a zigzag pattern from wall to wall down the length of a hallway. Place a treat just beyond the maze's edge. See if each person can get to the treat without touching the yarn/string "laser beams."  
43. Make Blind Self-Portraits! Have each family member draw themselves—but with their eyes closed! Put all the pictures in the center and see if you can guess who is who.
44. Decorate for an upcoming holiday
45. Create an obstacle course in the living room
Some of these activities will take some prep work ahead of time, but even if you can do one every other week or so, they will make for good family memories for your children. …and I don’t know about you all, but it seems we do so many fun things when we are in the States because there is so much available there. So fun memories that were made on the field are always good!  

Happy Family Night!

Leave a comment with your Family Night Ideas!


Charity said...

Great ideas!!!!

Susan Abbett said...

Wow! I think we need to have a family night SOON! Thanks for the ideas!

Chris and Carole said...

Great ideas!!!