6 Ways To Make Game Nights Fun For Kids!

This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a commission when you follow the links to a purchase at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. You can read my full disclaimer here.

Are you struggling to make family game night fun for the kids? Try these tips for making family board gaming far more exciting and engaging!

Every time my kids and I gather to play board games, I find myself going through an internal checklist. Am I mentally prepared for the game? Are they playing just because I asked, or do they genuinely want to participate? It can feel overwhelming and even self-sabotaging at times. However, I’ve developed a process that consistently leads to a positive outcome. In this article, I’ll share six proven methods that have my kiddos begging for more board games.


  1. Set the mood with Ambiance.
  2. Invite only those that want to play.
  3. Choose a game Style fitting for the day.
  4. Lure them with Munchies.
  5. Reward them with small prizes.
  6. Make sure the game instructions are manageable with House Rules.


While implementing these methods, I also think of how I can stimulate their critical thinking and offer a little culture to their worldview. I accomplish this through short stories that set the mood for the game or atmospheric music that sets the tone of the theme. These simple and easy methods don’t require much prepping but will result in a more relaxed and playful time while keeping your kids interested in game night. We have discovered a handful of games that hold tons of replayability for us. In this article, I will share an example of how I use these methods for Zombicide, our family’s most highly requested board game. I will provide ideas to implement in your home as a template to spice up your family game nights and keep your kids interested in more to come!



1. Make Your Game Nights Immersive With Ambiance


Set the mood and immerse yourselves. A strong and well-executed theme adds depth and immersion to the experience. When the games, decorations, costumes, and even food and drinks align with the chosen theme, it creates a cohesive atmosphere that transports participants into a different world. This immersion enhances the overall enjoyment and makes the night more exciting. Pay attention to the overall ambiance and aesthetics of the board game. Set up a visually appealing and well-decorated space that reflects the board game theme. Consider using themed decorations, lighting, background music, or sound effects that enhance the immersion and create a captivating atmosphere.


Zombicide 2nd Edition is an absolute blast and it’s super easy to learn and set up. Even my 8 yr old can set it up. Take a look at this article we wrote on why it’s worth your investment!


Ever since I picked up Zombicide 2nd Edition it’s become a family favorite, especially with my 3 littlest Benjamin age 8, Miriam age 10, and Evangeline age 12. Zombicide offers a ton of variety and replayability and has a huge following.

Here’s my template to set the mood for an interesting Zombicide family game night:


Set the mood with a book: Whatever the theme may be you can be sure to find a book about it. For example, if the board game is fantasy themed you could read aloud a chapter of your favorite fantasy graphic or illustrated novel such as Harry Potter: The Illustrated Collection or The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition. There’s a great website called Aconyte Books that offer lots of world-expanding fiction for many popular board games.


Our family likes these awesome books that help us get in the mood for Zombicide:


  • Zombie Survival Transport Manual! A super cool illustrated manual that is neatly organized with an easy-to-read layout. It even has a section on tricking out a double-decker bus into a battle bus.


  • Zombie Survival Manual! Not as technical as the transport manual but features a section on enhanced mutated zombies which we love because Zombicide also features zombie mutations as well.




  • Zombicide Book and Audio Series! Spice up your game nights and make lasting memories by checking out our article featuring the Zombicide book and audio series. Click Here.


Set the mood with background sounds: YouTube is full of atmospheric ambiance for board gamers and TTRPG gamers as well. Just google your favorite theme and see for yourself. Make sure to use quality speakers that stay connected to your phone so you can stay at the game table.


Try these premium sound yet affordable speakers that you can bundle with Amazon Music for 4 free months! Click Here to check the price and reviews.


Two things before we continue: Firstly, we had no AC for a couple of miserable years and it really affected our game room and family board game nights. We wrote an article on a couple of different affordable AC options that you can use in your game room. 



Secondly, It gets hot here and nothing is more refreshing than jumping in a clean pool. Have you ever thrown an awesome pool party game night? If you’d like some homegrown ideas to inspire you then check out this article we wrote here.


The Little Kids Requested A 3 Player Game Of Sequence For A Low-key Board Game Afternoon!


2. Invest In Family Game Night With RSVP Invitations


Nothing is worse than trying to get through a board game with kids that would rather be doing something else. In our home we have a golden rule: Only Come To The Game Table If You Actually Want To Invest Your Time. I’d rather my kids give me a truthful “pass” than they join in the game just because of my sad lonely face.


The RSVP invitation method should also take into account player availability. Make sure to set your time at a point in the day when you and the kids will be relaxed. Consider usual chores and work that should be completed prior to game night so that no one is rushing to finish. You can send the RSVP through text or note or simply go around asking your family directly. The point is to figure out who really wants to be involved in the upcoming game night.


We also like to have our Game Night Rules PDF available before we begin a session. It’s a fun little 8.5 x 11 printable flyer you can pass around or hand up.


If you’re liking these ideas so far then you should check out our article on How To Host A Family Game Night which adds a variety of other ideas to the subject that you’ll find both exciting and convenient. 


The Older Kids And I During A Player Vs Player Dune Board Game Night With Lots Of BackStabbing!


3. Spice Up Your Game Night By Finding The Right Style


In our home cooperative games rule especially if they have a bit of backstabbing or bluffing. However, my oldest son pictured here really only enjoys PvP Magic The Gathering MTG card games; especially the MTG Tales Of Middle Earth Series! For more information on this series featuring beautiful art and many collector editions check out our article here.


There is a wonderful game that has provided lots of joy for our family called Captain Sonar. It pits up to 4 players vs 4 Players in a hunt to destroy the opposing team’s submarine contest. Having family members go head-to-head in teams can be a blast!


Find a style of play that everyone loves in your home. Choosing the best board game style for your family depends on several factors, including the age of your family members, their interests and preferences, and the level of complexity they are comfortable with. Here are some steps to help you make a decision:


  • Consider the age range: If you have young children, you’ll want to choose games that are suitable for their age group. Look for games with simple rules and shorter playtimes. As children grow older, you can gradually introduce more complex games.


  • Assess interests and themes: Take into account the interests and hobbies of your family members. Some may prefer strategy games, while others might enjoy word games, trivia, cooperative games, or adventure-themed games. Matching the game’s theme with your family’s interests can increase their engagement and enjoyment.


  • Determine the preferred level of competition: Different families have different preferences when it comes to competition. If your family enjoys friendly competition, you might consider games with strategic elements and direct player interaction. On the other hand, if you prefer cooperative experiences that promote teamwork and collaboration, cooperative board games might be a good fit.


  • Consider group dynamics: Think about the size of your family and how many players can participate in a game. Some board games are designed for specific player counts, while others can accommodate a wide range of players. Make sure to choose games that allow everyone to be involved and engaged.


Remember, the most important factor is to have fun together as a family. Board games are a great way to spend quality time and create lasting memories. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different styles and genres to find what works best for your family’s unique dynamics and preferences.


Magic The Gathering


1 Player vs 1 Player card and hand management with various ways to win. 

Dune The Board Game


Player vs Player intrigue and worker placement.

Captain Sonar


Team vs Team Battleship type strategy. 

The 3 Littles Choosing Their Snacks For A Simple Board Game Night!


4. Make Game Night Exciting With Munchies


If you’re looking to incentivize your kids to participate in board game nights using snacks, here are some strategies you can try:


  • Make it special: Highlight the snack aspect as part of the board game night experience. Let your kids know that there will be a selection of delicious snacks available exclusively during game nights. This builds anticipation and makes the event feel more exciting.


  • Let them choose: Involve your kids in the snack selection process. Create a menu of snack options and let them pick their favorites. This gives them a sense of ownership and empowers them to look forward to the snacks they have chosen.


  • Snack rewards: Consider implementing a reward system where kids earn snacks based on their participation and behavior during the game night. For example, they could earn a snack after completing a certain number of rounds or displaying good sportsmanship. This can motivate them to actively engage in the game and strive for positive behavior. Most games have a number of rounds before the game finishes or a point tracker, both can be utilized as mileposts for receiving a snack. During Zombicide we will often hide small numbered squares of paper under the objective tokens. When players find these they can choose a snack from the bag the number corresponds to. They totally enjoy this.


  • Snack breaks: Incorporate snack breaks into the game night schedule. This gives your kids something to look forward to during the game. Take short breaks between rounds or during transitions, allowing everyone to enjoy a snack together before continuing with the game.


  • Snack surprises: Occasionally, surprise your kids with special snacks or treats that they don’t typically have. Introduce new and exciting snacks during game nights to create an element of surprise and delight. This can make board game nights feel even more special and enticing for your kids.


  • Snack-themed games: Choose board games that have a snack or food-related theme. For example, there are games focused on running a restaurant or baking desserts. Playing these games can create a natural connection between the snacks and the game itself, making it more enticing for your kids.


  • Make it interactive: Incorporate snack preparation into the game night activities. Involve your kids in making simple snacks together, such as assembling a DIY snack mix or decorating cookies. This adds an interactive and fun element to the event and encourages their active participation.


Remember, while using snacks as an incentive can be effective, it’s essential to focus on the overall enjoyment and quality time spent together during board game nights. Make sure the focus remains on the games themselves and the bonding experience rather than solely on the snacks.


Rival Restaurants


2 to 6 Players

Chef Powers

Recipe Fulfillment

Points Tracking 

Deadly Desserts


2 to 10 Players

Fight To The Last Crumb

Ferocious Foods

Health Token Control


5. Enhance Family Game Night With Rewards


Rewarding your family members with snacks during or after family board game nights can be a fun and motivating way to enhance the experience. Here are some ideas on how you can incorporate snack rewards:


  • Achievements or milestones: Create a list of achievements or milestones within the game and offer snacks as rewards when players reach them. For example, you could reward the first player to reach a certain score, complete a challenging task, or win a specific number of rounds with a special snack.


  • Snack currency: Introduce a system where players earn snack currency during the game. This could be in the form of tokens, chips, or play money. Players can accumulate these throughout the game, and at the end, they can exchange them for snacks of their choice. This adds a competitive element and encourages strategic play.


  • Snack wheel or jar: Prepare a snack wheel or jar filled with different types of snacks. Players can spin the wheel or draw a snack from the jar as a reward for their accomplishments during the game. This element of surprise adds excitement and anticipation to the reward system.


  • Snack auctions: Designate a portion of the game night for a snack auction. Players can bid their in-game points or tokens on their desired snacks. This adds a strategic element to the game and creates a lively atmosphere as players compete for their favorite treats.


  • Snack treasure chest: Create a treasure chest filled with various snacks. Throughout the game, players can earn keys or clues that unlock the treasure chest. When the game concludes, players who have earned enough keys or solved the clues can open the treasure chest and select their snack rewards.


  • DIY snack bar: Set up a DIY snack bar where players can create their own customized snacks as rewards. Provide a variety of ingredients, toppings, and decorations for players to choose from. They can earn the privilege to visit the snack bar by achieving specific goals or winning certain game rounds.


Remember to adjust the reward system based on the preferences and dietary restrictions of your family members. You should maintain a healthy balance between fun and snacks, ensuring that the focus remains on quality time.


6. Add House Rules To Your Board Game Night


Adding house rules to board games can be a great way to personalize the gameplay experience and add variety. When it comes to Zombicide we have a handful of rules that that we like to implement. After 20 times playing the standard rules, we decided to start adding house rules and haven’t looked back since. Take a look at us explaining our house rules here.


Here are some steps to consider when implementing house rules:


  • Understand the original rules: Before introducing house rules, make sure you thoroughly understand the original rules of the game. This will help you identify areas where you can introduce modifications or additional rules without disrupting the core mechanics or balance of the game.


  • Consider the purpose: Determine the purpose of the house rule. Are you trying to make the game more challenging, speed up the gameplay, or add a thematic element? Understanding the purpose will help you come up with appropriate and meaningful rule changes. 


  • Keep it balanced: Ensure that the house rules you introduce maintain a fair and balanced gameplay experience for all players. Avoid creating rules that give excessive advantage to one player or significantly alter the game’s dynamics. The goal is to enhance the fun and engagement of everyone involved.


  • Test and refine: Before adopting a house rule permanently, it’s a good idea to test it out during a game session. See how it impacts the gameplay and gather feedback from the players. If the rule doesn’t work as intended or creates unintended consequences, be open to refining or removing it.


  • Document the rules: Clearly document and communicate the house rules to all players before the game starts. This will help avoid confusion or misunderstandings during gameplay. You can create a printed or digital document outlining the original rules and the added house rules, making it easy for everyone to reference.


  • Collaborative decision-making: Involve all players in the process of creating house rules. Encourage open discussion and gather input from everyone to ensure that the rules are agreeable to all participants. This fosters a sense of ownership and inclusiveness within the gaming group.


  • Have fun: Remember that the main purpose of adding house rules is to enhance enjoyment and customize the game to suit your group’s preferences. Embrace the flexibility and creativity that house rules offer, and have fun experimenting with different variations. The most important thing is that everyone is enjoying the game and having a good time together.


It’s worth mentioning that some board games may already have official variants or expansions that introduce additional rules or variations. Before implementing your own house rules, you may want to explore official expansions or variants to see if they offer the desired changes to the gameplay.

Share the Post:

Related Posts

Get started miniature painting with a few paints on a budget

Starting Up in Miniature Painting: Unleash Your Creativity on a Budget

Embark on your miniature painting journey without breaking the bank! Discover budget-friendly tips, DIY solutions, and essential tools for painting miniatures. From wet palettes to Vallejo paints, this guide will help you unleash your creativity affordably. Dive into the world of hobby painting with practical insights and expert recommendations. Start your artistic adventure today!

Read More