Unplugged: 10 Hilarious Games for Family Night

Have a good, gadget-free time.

Sardines. Credit: Getty
Sardines. Credit: Getty
Written by Julia Halewicz

It's no secret we should all be unplugging now and then to maintain our health and sanity. In fact, unplugging is becoming a movement. But the thought can be a little intimidating. What's there to do if we're not on our smart phones and gadgets?

Turns out, a lot of awesomely fun games that can bring the whole family together. Imagine teens laughing with their parents instead of at them. And little ones falling into fits of laughter instead of tears. It can be that good!

We scoured the Internet for family-friendly games that can turn one night unplugged into a family tradition. Here's what we found:

It's hide and seek, but backwards. One person is the sardine and hides. Everyone else gets to find the sardine. As each person finds the sardine, they hide together until only one person is left seeking. Eventually, the entire group is together except for the last seeker, who becomes the next sardine.

I Went to the Store and Bought a...

Everyone goes to the grocery store, but whose memory is good enough to remember the entire list? Going in alphabetical order, one person starts with a store grocery store item that begins with the letter "a." Each successive player has to repeat the entire list and add one new item. 

Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board

This game defies logic. One person lays down on the ground surrounded by the other players. Everyone in the group places two fingers from each hand under the person laying down. Chanting "light as a feather, stiff as a board," the group slowly raises the body and discovers it's light as a feather!   

Toothless Vegetables

Perfect fun for little ones, the goal is to keep a straight face while you name vegetables without showing your teeth. Laugh and you're out!

Gargle a Song

Pick your favorite tune and try to have your family guess the name. The challenge—you have to gargle it!


We all know how to play. Why not actually do it? Cut paper into rectangular strips and write movie titles on them. Toss them into a hat or basket. Everyone takes a turn at acting out the movie title while the rest of the players guess. The most important rule: the person acting out the movie title can't talk!


A more challenging version of 20 Questions, Botticelli requires a sharp mind. One person is the "chooser" and everyone else playing are "guessers." What makes this game different is that the chooser has to respond to questions that don't correctly match the identity by adding another last name that starts with the same letter. If the chooser can't think of a name, the guesser is allowed to continue asking questions. The person who correctly guesses the identity gets to be the next chooser.  Here's how to play:

Chooser: The last name starts with J.

Guesser 1: Is the person a basketball player? 

Chooser: No, the person is not Michael Jordan. 

Guesser 2: Is the person a singer? 

Chooser: No, the person is not Michael Jackson.

Guesser 3: Is the person a U.S. president?

Chooser: Yes, the person is Thomas Jefferson. 


Put your mental and motor skills to test when you clap, pat and snap your way through categories and learn who can stay focused while they keep the pattern going. Categories can get more challenging the older the kids are. Here’s how to play:

Player 1: pat, pat, clap, clap, snap, snap. Categories. Player 2: pat, pat, clap, clap, snap, snap. Starting With. Player 3: pat, pat, clap, clap, snap, snap. Names of.

Player 4: pat, pat, clap, clap, snap, snap. Presidents. Player 5: pat, pat, clap, clap, snap, snap. Lincoln.


One person starts the game by picking a state, city or country. The next player must name a location that starts with the last letter of the previous name. Here's how to play: 

Player 1: Alabama

Player 2: Albany

Player 3: Yellow Stone

Player 4: Egypt

Who Am I? 

Players guess their own identity. Everyone gets a name taped to their back and forehead. You have the whole night to guess who you are by asking other people questions. 

TELL US: What's your favorite game to play with your family and friends? Share yours in the comments section below.

This article is part of Mix It Up, an editorial series created in collaboration with AOL's Kitchen Daily and Huffington Post. It is dedicated to making the lives of mothers easier through articles, videos and slideshows focused on simple and creative solutions to everyday challenges. From healthy recipes to exciting ideas for a more balanced lifestyle, this section aims to become a resource for moms everywhere. 

Kirby January 16, 2014 at 08:55 AM
Bubble Talk = very fun!
michelle January 16, 2014 at 09:35 AM
My son and his friends like the old games like Life and Monopoly. Sometimes we play checkers, Uno or Apples to Apples.
tt January 16, 2014 at 09:41 AM
@JOHN not everyone has little ones. sometimes family night is an adult thing ya know and then cards against humanity would be perfectly appropriate and hilarious. :)
lotsahelp January 16, 2014 at 10:29 AM
They all sound great! the important thing as parents is to start playing games early with your kids so they catch the habit! Then no matter how much they like the digital stuff they will always enjoy the other type too!
The Convict January 16, 2014 at 11:08 AM
Concentration with cards (turn all cards face down on the table and then try to find pairs) is a great game. We also play Settlers of Cataan. If your kids are a little older, you can still find the Dungeons and Dragons Basic kits on eBay. Then there's also the Collectible Card Games like Magic: the Gathering, or Pirates of the Caribbean, or Pokemon (for the younger kids).
Bonnie Packard January 16, 2014 at 12:10 PM
What a great post! My father in-law firmly believed the principle that "THE FAMILY THAT PLAYS TOGETHER, STAYS TOGETHER." So we love playing games. I'm anxious to try out some of these new ones. Thanks for the post.
Liz January 16, 2014 at 03:20 PM
Every year at Christmas we get a new game - some we have found and love are Sequence, Dominion, Farkle, and others. We have taught our kids to play Canasta and Cribbage which I grew up playing.
Sue January 16, 2014 at 03:58 PM
We played Dictionary when we got together with friends on the holidays. One person looks up an obscure word in a dictionary and writes it down with the correct definition. Everyone else writes the word with a definition they make up. Papers are passed to the dictionary person, who reads each page. Then everyone votes on which they think is the correct definition. Each time your definition is picked, you get a point. Each person who guesses correctly gets 2 points. If nobody guesses correctly, the dictionary person gets 5 points. Dictionary then passes to the left.
Joanne Roy January 16, 2014 at 04:05 PM
We play virtual hide and seek on long car rides. The person who is "it" chooses a location (in their mind) where in the house to hide. They also have to tell you how big they are (life size, 6" tall, etc.) Everyone else tries to guess where they might be hiding!
Such Troll January 16, 2014 at 05:10 PM
Okay Joanne, lets play. Where am I... I am somewhere dark.
Stephanie January 16, 2014 at 05:24 PM
Hey Alexis Grant! Are you on Reddit? They have a meetup for boardgames and it's tonight, Thursday January 16th. I've never been to one, but I'm sure you could make some friends who like games as much as you do. Here is a link. http://www.reddit.com/r/LosAngeles/comments/1v7v0u/rlosangeles_los_angeles_boardgame_night_meet_up/
Rapture January 16, 2014 at 06:25 PM
All the games mentioned are fantastic...also to consider is some physical games to play with friends and family too while the weather permits or if you have the space inside. Red Rover, SPUD, Capture the flag (can be done inside and out), four corners, and one of the student's favorites of all times "HUCKLE BUCKLE BEANSTALK"
Chris Charboneau January 16, 2014 at 11:15 PM
Ok, everyone else can come over for video games...#weirdlist
Cheryl Elkins January 17, 2014 at 01:43 PM
We play games quite a bit. Puerto Rico, Power Grid and Small World should be added to Settlers and Ticket to Ride as great board games. Frank's Zoo and Fluxx, both card games, are great fun that can be played with younger members of the family. And don't forget Pit or the Great Dalmuti if you have a large enough group. Our favorite two-player game is Lost Cities. Providing link to Boardgame Geek - a great resource. http://boardgamegeek.com/
Joe L January 17, 2014 at 01:50 PM
That Headbandz game is crazy fun
Such Troll January 17, 2014 at 02:28 PM
How bout some good ol' GTA 5. It's good for kids of all ages.
rubberband January 17, 2014 at 03:32 PM
Find and buy a game called "Zombie Dice"...It's fun, quick, and very fun to play. Also, "Get Bit" is very fun...(both of those are small games that don't take up a lot of space, so ideal for camping trips).....the dragon game, "Tsuro" was very interesting, and challenging....All three of these really cool games we found out about are from "Table Top" with Wil Wheaton, and not only is it funny, (not a kid's show, but most of the games are totally cool for kids) they review and show you how to play new table top/board games and then rank the fun levels. Try it out! Great ideas for table top/group game night!......................................... http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4F80C7D2DC8D9B6C
Dan Avery January 17, 2014 at 05:42 PM
Actually in my family we always did a jigsaw puzzle. That way, as you are searching for pieces that fit, you actually talk to each other about real things. Plus jigsaw puzzles help you learn to think in non-linear ways.
rubberband January 17, 2014 at 06:06 PM
Also, jigsaw puzzles help keep your brain limber and studies show they may help prevent brain diseases/function loss.
Chris Barbara January 18, 2014 at 04:59 AM
JD...let's see how well you work the three card monte. Post a quick 2 minute video on Youtube. Man I miss those days in Times Square were I used to watch those hustlers work.
Tricia January 18, 2014 at 12:11 PM
one of our favorites is to see how many words you can make from one long word. For Example - Newspaper. Everyone makes a list of words that can be made using the letters from this one word (saw, weep, new...). Set a time limit and reward the winner.
Becky January 19, 2014 at 11:13 AM
I've always loved the game Telephone where you get to see how much a message is distorted as it passes from person to person. And my parents play the card game, Hand and Foot, with multiple decks. It's fun and easy enough to talk while you're playing it.
Ed McNamara January 19, 2014 at 01:21 PM
I'm surprised not to see "Password" in anyone's comments. It can be played with almost any age group. We sometimes don't even bother to keep score. it's just a blast seeing how different individuals approach the same word. Lots of great memories, old and new. I don't know if it is still in stores but if not you can probably find it at garage sales or flea markets, or just make your own.
Michael Langford January 19, 2014 at 08:57 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXJxQ0NbFtk Fiasco is my game of choice like that. They have family friendly playsets and rules for no death, etc. http://www.bullypulpitgames.com/games/fiasco/
LevelheadedOne January 20, 2014 at 03:46 PM
I'm not sure if it would qualify since it uses something that takes batteries...but we like to play Catch Phrase when we're with the cousins at the beach- sort of like password only there's a timer attached to the word and it counts down, if it buzzes when you're holding it you lose the point, adds some pressure. Another game is Salad bowl- (too hard to explain) good for smaller groups.
Ryegardener January 21, 2014 at 07:18 AM
Great post! We love playing games as a family. I agree w/LevelheadedOne that Catch Phrase is great - it usually leads to hysterics. We also like Cranium quite a bit. It showcases all different skills - artistic, trivia, knowledge of history, science, literature, etc, etc. Every member of a team plays a role.
Kathryn Dillon January 21, 2014 at 07:39 AM
Throw it Away. You need two decks of cards. Shuffle one and distribute evenly among players. If you have a LOT of players (8 or more) you may want to shuffle a second deck of cards into your disbribution deck. The caller has a complete deck of cards. Players lay their cards face up on the table in front of them. The caller calls one card at a time, and the person who has that card "Throws it away", ie, gives it back to the caller. The first person to give back all of his or her cards is the winner. I usually make it fun by saying that the winner's prize is that they have to yodel, shout "Yipee", etc. Lots of laughs ensue. I love to play this game on the Alzheimer's unit where I work, but I think it would be a blast at a children's party, family night, etc.
Anna Miller January 23, 2014 at 05:13 PM
We have played cribbage, hearts, and spades over the years as well as Risk, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons/Pathfinder/etc. and some D20 Modern.
rubberband January 23, 2014 at 06:16 PM
Long LIVE Dungeons and Dragons! d20 System!
Sherrie Tomaska February 08, 2014 at 11:35 AM


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