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7 ideas for family night

By Alexandra Fung

Put your phones and tablets in a drawer, gather round and get ready for some family fun. We’re sharing seven of our favourite ideas for your next family night (or day!) at home that can be modified to include children and adults of various ages and abilities. Go as big or as simple as you like. The important thing is to consider necessary accommodations if you have a child with a disability or someone in your family who is on the spectrum so that your dedicated time together goes as well as possible.

Family games
It’s easy to pull out a deck of cards or favourite board game and gather round for a little structured play that also creates a space for conversation and laughter with minimal effort. Playing video games together might also be fun.

Games like Uno or Spot It! work well for a wide range of ages, can be modified for shorter or longer play, and are easy to travel with for family vacations. Strategy games like Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride are especially popular with older kids and guessing games like HedBanz can be modified as needed.

Another fun variation on your typical board game night is to set up a bunch of minute-to-win-it games for the whole family and challenge one another to silly competitions that involve hiding games, stacking bowls or moving candies from one plate to another. Again, set up a challenge that can work for your crew. 

Sundae night
Put out ice cream/yogurt and a variety of toppings— fudge, caramel, fruit pieces, candy bits, sprinkles—and have everyone make their own tasty creation. This can be a fun tradition to enjoy on its own, (perhaps on Sundays?) or along with another activity.

Create a mural
Roll out an extra-large paper across your dining room table or the living room floor and have everyone draw and colour a section. Pick a theme, like superheroes, farm animals or under the sea. Everyone can make their own unique contribution or enjoy watching the mural grow. Try putting on easy listening music as well.

Family olympics
Part of the fun is coming up with the games where everyone can truly participate. NERF archery, a hula hoop contest, balloon toss, wheelchair basketball. Play in teams or individually, and come up with names, DIY medals, and special t-shirts to make it an especially memorable day.

Volunteering 
Engaging kids of all abilities in their larger community and helping them understand how they can make positive difference lives of others is a rewarding experience. From home you can write a letter to seniors or members of the armed forces, sort books and household items that you can donate, craft lifesaving paracord bracelets, make blankets for overseas causes as an example.

Backyard camping
Sleeping outside is such a thrill for kids—break out the sleeping bags (or air mattresses!) and pitch a tent in the backyard. Tell stories, gaze up at space, enjoy snacks, and keep a lookout for fireflies. Elevate your family movie night by making it an outdoor movie night! A portable movie projector is perfect for the occasion, but even a laptop computer will suffice.

Dance party
Create a family playlist (or just break out the ABBA!) and have an impromptu dance party! This is a great way to use up energy and get everyone moving. Though you don’t need anything more than great music to make it happen, fun variations on your family dance party could include Nintendo Wii’s Just Dance. You can find plenty of inspiration for learning new moves on YouTube and Tik Tok—just be sure to screen videos to make sure they’re appropriate for the entire family!

Alexandra Fung is the co-founder and CWO of Upparent, a parent-to-parent website where families can discover and share recommendations for activities, kid-friendly recipes, books, toys, products and more. This article was adapted from thegeniusofplay.org.

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