When we do family game night in our household we usually go one of two directions. We either play a board game or we play card games. Most of the time we gravitate to card games because my kids love playing card games. While my oldest was in college it seems he learned a new card game every semester and he would come home and share that game with the family.
General Tips for Family Card Game Night
One of the hardest challenges when playing cards with our family is the age gap between kids. The older kids like more advanced card games that require a little more strategy while the youngest prefers to just have fun and not have to put much thought into the game. When planning a family card game night consider the age of your kids and the card game you want to play.
For younger kids you can go with Go Fish or UNO. These games are not only fun but also can provide a learning experience as they require knowing numbers, colors, and matching. With younger children always make sure the key aim is to have fun and not worry too much about rules. They may not always understand the rules so try to guide them to play the game the correct way, but be flexible and bend the rules if you can see they are getting frustrated. If you are playing with a mix of older and younger kids establish early that the rules are flexible. Older children will actually get aggravated when the younger kids don’t play by the rules. By laying out the rules early on you can avoid conflicts during the game night.
The older kids might enjoy a bit more strategy in their card games. Games like spades, rummy, or poker are some tried and true games for the older kids and adults. If you search online you can find some different games that can keep your older kids entertained.
Here are some card games that my son has taught us and we enjoy. And remember the rules to the game can always be adjusted for the age of your kids or to increase the fun.
Garbage (or Trash)
We actually play a different variation of this game then what I have found online but it makes the game go a little faster which is good for our younger kids.
Each person is dealt 6 cards face down. Then the rest of the deck is put face down in the middle of the players for them to draw from. The goal of first round is to have Ace (1), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 flipped up in front of the player when this happens that player wins the round. The player to flip, in sequence, their Ace through 6 is only dealt 5 cards face down in round two. Then they only have to get Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5 in order to win the next round. This continues until one person only needs the Ace and flips a singular Ace to win the game. Some house rules we like to play by.
- Kings are used as blockers. If you draw a King you can block someones spot. For instance if a player has Ace through 5 flipped up you can block their 6 with a King. In order to remove a blocked location the player has to play that number or a wild card. When a King is removed the King and the card played are discarded.
- Jacks are used as skips. You can skip the next player.
- Queens are used to steal cards from other players. Queens can steal either face up or face down cards. When Queens are played they are added to the discard card pile
Once the deck has been worked through and if no one has won the round then the dealer will reshuffle the discard pile and add it to the original deck.
Slap (or Slapjack)
Slap is a game that can be a challenge for the younger kids. But this is a card game that can lead to lots of laughs when played.
The cards are evenly dealt to all players face down. Starting with the player to the left of the dealer, that player lays down their top card face up. Then the next player lays down their top card face up. If this card matches the previous cards value then the players can slap the discard pile you can also have a variation to slap a sandwich. This . The person that slaps first steals the cards in the discard pile and adds the cards to their pile. This will continue until one person has slapped all the cards into their pile. Two different variations on this game. Any time a Jack is played it is considered a wild card and an automatic slap to get the pile. The variation our family plays involves face cards. Each face card has a value (Jack = 1, Queen = 2, King = 3). When a player plays one of these the next player must lay down that many cards. If they do not lay down an equal or higher face card the first player picks up the pile.
Skull is a bidding card game. This game takes a little bit of strategy but even younger kids can participate and even dominate this game. There is a retail version of this game but the instructions here you can play with just a standard playing card set.
Each player is given 4 cards. 3 of them should be standard numbers and then one of them a face card. During the first go a player plays a card face down in front of them until all players have added to the pile in front of each player. When it is back to the player that started the round they can either bid or pass, and if they pass they must lay another card face down. What they are bidding on is how many cards they can flip over without revealing a face card. Then the next player can outbid them or pass. This keeps going until someone reaches the max bid (all the cards face down) or everyone has passed except one player.
The player with the largest bid must flip all of the cards in front of them. Then they can start flipping the other players cards (in any order) until they reach their bid or flip a face card. If they reach their bid without finding any face cards they win a point. If they flip a face card then they lose that round and the player who had the face card randomly selects a card from that player, leaving the losing player with one less card to play. Also if the person losing has a point they lose a point. Typically we use poker chips or pennies to keep tally of scores.
Retail Card Games
We have established a good collection of card games and would like to share some of our family favorites.
First and foremost is UNO. We probably have at least 5 different variations of UNO and we love to play them. Nothing says I love you like dropping a draw four on one of your kids.
Fluxx. There are now several variants of this game but the general idea of Fluxx is a card game where the rules are always changing. The deck consists of different goals that provides way to win the game and those goals can change at any moment. Or you may play cards that will block others from winning the game and causes everyone to lose. Our favorite version is zombie Fluxx as the younger kids get lots of laughs when someone plays a rule card that you have to groan like a zombie every time you draw a zombie card.
Bears vs Babies. This is another hit with our younger kids. In Bears vs Babies you have to build a monster army to defeat the evil babies. It is a monster building strategy game where your monster can have the head of a lobster and chainsaws for arms.
Doing family game night is a great opportunity to bond with your family. I would argue there is no wrong way to do family game night. But making sure everyone is involved and present (no electronics) it is a prime opportunity to make memories. In fact any time we have storms and there is a possibility of the electric going out my kids get the cards and the lantern ready so we can have an impromptu family game night.
If you have a favorite card game head over to year of the dad’s Facebook page and leave a comment with your favorite card games.