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5 Great Games to Play with Your Family

Updated on January 7, 2010
An impromptu scavenger hunt can occupy all ages.  (Photo by Sarah Brucker)
An impromptu scavenger hunt can occupy all ages. (Photo by Sarah Brucker)

It can be a challenge to entertain everyone at a family get-together like a picnic or reunion. After all, there are usually all ages and all different interests; families don't usually go around doing things together anymore. How do you entertain Markie McVideoGame, Yoga Mom, and Grampa von Golf all at the same time?

Here are five perfect pick-up games you can play with minimal props that will entertain everyone around (even the occasional person outside your family who might be watching you).

The Human Knot

I don't know why, but this was always my favorite getting-to-know-you game as a kid. The setup is simple, but playing is like solving a puzzle. Any amount of people can play (more than four, really), and the game is never the same twice!

(Grampa and children with extremely short attention spans might want to sit this one out; you will have to mildly contort your body, and you will have to hold the same person's hand for several minutes.)

  1. Everyone stands in a tight circle (shoulder to shoulder) and puts both hands towards the middle.
  2. Each person grabs the hands of two other people, one with each hand. Now everyone is holding the hands of two different people.
  3. Spin, twist, and weave until the circle is a circle again: fully untangled and holding the hands of the people standing next to them (some people may be facing out, some may be facing in).
  4. If anyone drops hands, that game is over, and you have to start again.

Children chase a bubble.
Children chase a bubble.
A dad throws his daughter in the ocean. (Photo by Paul de Bruin)
A dad throws his daughter in the ocean. (Photo by Paul de Bruin)

The Fruit Game

This is a creative memory game. Anyone can play, but those who have a hard time running (disabled or elderly) might have to be "judges" (I have a great game coming for you on this list, I promise).

  1. Everyone chooses a different fruit to be their new name for the duration of the game. The sillier the better. For example, let's say I'm Kumquat.
  2. Stand in a circle with about an arm's length in between each person. The "It" person starts standing in the middle.
  3. Go around the circle and each person says their name aloud. Don't forget who's who!
  4. To start the game, I'd say, "Kumquat loves... Banana!" (this is assuming there is someone named Banana). The "It" person has to remember who is Banana and tag her before Banana can say, "Banana loves... Apple!"
  5. If whomever is "It" tags Banana before her declaration of love, Banana is now "It."
  6. The game pretty much never ends.

Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors (aka Doors and Windows) is just as fun as the Fruit Game but much less complicated and therefore maybe better for a group that has mostly very young children.

  1. Everyone stands in a circle and holds hands with arms partially extended.
  2. One person stands in the middle and tries to escape the circle through the windows and doors (the spaces between the people).
  3. The two people between which the middle person tries to escape try to trap him by putting their arms down to "block" the window/door.
  4. When the person escapes, he sits out the rest of the game and chooses the next person to be in the middle. This continues until the last person is standing (no one really wins or loses).

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A great indoor-outdoor game that anyone can play with almost any amount of people. In fact, having a silly-speaking toddler and a hearing-impaired great uncle could make this game a whole lot more fun!

  1. Sit in a tight circle. Not much movement will be needed, so gramma can sit in a chair while little Timmy sits on the ground next to her.
  2. One person thinks of a word or phrase and whispers it to the person to her right. The length and complication level of the phrase should be according to the age of the players (you probably don't want to use the word "prestidigitation" with a few four-year-olds in the circle).
  3. Each person continues to whisper the phrase s/he hears with the understanding that it might be changing with each person who hears it slightly differently.
  4. When the final person (sitting to the left of the originator of the phrase) hears the phrase, he announces it to the circle. It might be slightly different than what everyone else heard and can be quite comical. It's traditional for the originator of the phrase to then tell everyone what it was meant to be.

All kids need to have fun is a little nature!
All kids need to have fun is a little nature!

Use Your Imagination!

Kids can be entertained by almost anything when they use their imaginations; have the adults do the same! Playing imaginative games is something that we forget to do as we grow up but that are so beneficial. This will activate lobes of your brain that might have been dormant for years!

  1. Note what things you have at your disposal. Trees? Coins? A rope? Places to hide?
  2. Make a game that is spun off of a well-known one. Instead of regular Hide and Seek, play Pirate Hide and Seek! Instead of regular Tag, play Tag as animals!
  3. If you're in a public place, take note of strangers who are far away and make up fun stories about who they are, what they do for a living, and what their families are like.
  4. Don't be afraid to be embarrassed; the more you "put yourself out there" with this type of game, the more fun you'll end up having!


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    • profile image

      Matt Briggs 6 years ago

      Those are awesome ideas to play with your family. I've also found a bunch of ideas at Thanks!

    • profile image

      marry 7 years ago

      they need a game for a big family with young and old kids so they game is appeling to evry one!

    • abinavis profile image

      abinavis 8 years ago from Bat Island

      Thanks for sharing. This is a good idea and I wanna a try on my next vacation. Good job Helena.

    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 10 years ago from Manhattan

      I don't mind at all, Write On. Thanks for linking to me!

    • Write On! profile image

      Write On! 10 years ago from United States

      GREAT! I hope you don't mind my linking over on the game thing... this is great. Thanks... really adds to what I wrote.


    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 10 years ago from Manhattan

      That's what the hub is for, Whitney! Now you can play any of them! :)

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 10 years ago from Georgia

      I think telephone is the only game on your list that I've heard of. :-(