Secrets of successful family nights
Family night is an inexpensive way to spend time with one another and improve family relationships and communication. Whether you enjoy board games, card games, movies or something else, start the tradition of family night in your home. Follow these tips and secrets for successful family nights.
Family game or movie night is a terrific way to bring everyone in the family together. Games also help teach young children how to be good winners and losers. Set up one night a week (or every other week -- whatever works for your family) as family night. By making it a tradition with consistency, family time will become part of your regular routine.
Vary the activities
Playing board games and watching movies aren't the only things you can do together as a family. By varying the activities and events, you'll keep things fresh and interesting for you and your kids. Other fun family night ideas include:
- American Idol night -- Each child sings and dances to his favorite music, while the parents are the judges. Then, reverse roles and have the kids judge the parents' singing talents.
- Family photo night -- Go through old family photos and put them together in albums or scrapbooks.
- Dinner-and-a-movie night -- Plan a dinner menu around the theme of the movie you are going to be watching. Then, prepare and cook the meal together.
- Camp-out night -- Pitch a tent in your backyard, roast marshmallows, tell ghost stories and check out the constellations.
- Volunteer day -- Change family night to family day and spend the afternoon volunteering. Working together as a family on a charity project can instill pride in children and teach them the value of giving back to those in need.
Serve plenty of food
Family night isn't complete without food. Order pizza or serve an assortment of finger foods and treats. Make things fun with foods you don't have on a regular basis -- like fondue, s'mores or ice cream sundaes. Just remember to avoid greasy or sticky foods while you are actually playing games. Check out these tasty snack ideas for game night.
Create a comfortable atmosphere
Whether it's movies, board games or something else, you want to be comfy during family night. If your little ones can't reach the dining table to play Chutes & Ladders, set up a more suitable card table instead. For movie watching, keep plenty of extra pillows and blankets on hand, particularly if some family members are going to be seated on the floor.
Make it competitive
Everyone loves competition -- especially older children. Keep a scoreboard with a running tally of wins and losses for game night. You can use a simple dry-erase or chalkboard for this. At the end of the month (or the season), crown a champion for each game that you have played repeatedly. Even the most difficult teenager will want to be the Monopoly or Yahtzee champ for the month.
Unplug during family night
Make it a rule that no one -- neither parents nor kids -- will answer the phone, check email or use any other electronics during family time. If someone answers a phone call, everyone else will have to stop and wait, interfering with the family fun. Family night is the perfect time to unplug.
With a little planning and a solid commitment, family night will become a wonderful tradition everyone will enjoy.