Ten Ideas For A Thrifty Family Fun Night

July 7, 2016 6:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Photo Courtesy of Simon & Schuster


Cynthia Copeland is author of more than 25 books, including Family Fun Night.: Second Edition. Her Workman titles alone have nearly 1 million copies in print. Her work has been featured on Good Morning America, selected for Oprah’s “O List” in O Magazine, recommended by Ann Landers, and featured in Family Circle Magazine. She lives in Keene, NH.

Family Fun Night (available now from Cider Mill Press, an affiliate of Simon & Schuster, a CBS sister company) offers hundreds of creative ideas to foster family togetherness. Bonus: You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a terrific time! In fact, sometimes the best and most memorable family activities are ones that cost next to nothing. The ideas that follow may require an investment of your time, but they won’t require you to open your wallet. (The change in your pocket should suffice.)

Personal Pictionary

Make your own Pictionary-type game! In advance, a parent can write or type words on slips of paper, fold each one, and put them all in a jar. When it’s time to play, each person can take a turn choosing a word and drawing a picture of it while the others try to guess what she is drawing. If someone guesses correctly, he and the artist each get one point.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Exploding Colors

You and your kids can conduct fascinating scientific research with objects you have around the house. To get started, try this experiment:

Pour just enough milk into a pizza pan or baking dish to cover the bottom. Add a few drops of food coloring to the milk in the center of the pan. Squeeze two or three drops of dish detergent on top of the food coloring and watch the fireworks! Read about hydrophobic molecules online to find out what happened!

Puzzle Race

If you think that doing puzzles is too tame, try this twist! Each m ember of the family chooses a puzzle. (If you don’t have enough for everyone, puzzles can be purchased at your local Dollar Store for—you guessed it—one dollar.) Dump all of the puzzle pieces into a pile, mix them up, then… BEGIN! Who can find all the right pieces and finish his or her puzzle first?

Spit-It-Out Trivia Contest

You’ll laugh your way through this trivia game, win or lose! In advance, make a list of trivia questions and answers (from the Internet, game cards, or books). At game time, divide the family into teams of two: partners will take turns asking and answering the questions. Each team has one minute to get as many right answers as possible. Here’s the catch: Place a bowl of Saltines or Ritz crackers in the middle of the table. Every time a teammate answers a question correctly, the player posing the questions must eat a cracker. By the time a player is asking his tenth question, his partner can barely understand what he is saying!

Make-Your-Own Mad Libs

Mad Libs are funny enough on their own, but when you take the time to create personal stories for your own family, you’ll never stop laughing! Study a few Mad Libs to see how they’re written, then write your own unique stories and have your family members fill in the blanks!

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Balloon Football

If your group is looking for a little more action on Family Fun Night, play a gentle version of football. Divide your group into two teams and line up about 30 feet from one another. Each team should position a goalie behind the opposing team who must remain standing on a chair holding a pin throughout the game. Each team tries to hit the balloon toward its own goalie so that the goalie can pop the balloon and score a point for his team. At the same time, the opposing team tries to prevent the point from being scored. The balloon must stay in the air at all times. Note: Have plenty of balloons on hand!

Game Of Giants

Make your own game board by placing old magazines on the floor in two rows of ten “spaces” (marked by magazines) each. Divide the family into teams and come up with a game token for each team (such as a stuffed animal). Using two sets of trivia cards, one for kids and one for adults, take turns asking and answering questions. A team moves ahead one giant space for each correct answer!

Soda Bottle Bowling

Pour a few inches of water into (and then cap) a set of 2-liter soda bottles; set them up like bowling pins. Take turns kicking a soccer ball into the pins to see who can knock down the most.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Bake Off

Make cake batter from a mix and divide it among the family members. Each baker can add any ingredients he or she wants—marshmallows, chocolate chips, candy bits, nuts—and then each of the concoctions is put into a muffin tin and baked according to the directions on the package. When the mini cakes are done, each baker can decorate his or hers with frosting and other toppings. Select winners in each category: Presentation, Taste, and Creativity.

Wacky Story Time

Give everyone a piece of paper and a pen, and instruct them to write the first sentence of a story. When you say “now,” each person folds the paper back so that the sentence is hidden, and passes it to the person on his right. Then, each person writes the next sentence of his story and at “now,” folds and passes the paper again. Everyone is writing a continuation of his own story, but on a different piece of paper each time. After a pre-established number of passes, everyone reads aloud the story on the paper he is holding, connecting the sentences as naturally as possible.

Learn more about the book (including how to get a copy for your family) by visiting FamilyFunNight.org.

Cynthia Copeland is author of more than 25 books, including Family Fun Night.: Second Edition. Her Workman titles alone have nearly 1 million copies in print. Her work has been featured on Good Morning America, selected for Oprah’s “O List” in O Magazine, recommended by Ann Landers, and featured in Family Circle Magazine. She lives in Keene, NH.

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