Host the Ultimate Game Night

Staying in is the new going out, and game night with the family or small groups of friends can bring big laughs and tons of fun — right when we need it most.

The kids play Apples to Apples and munch on snacks. Bamboo napkins from Living Well, Fairhope. Photos by Elizabeth Gelineau

Although we might be going out a bit less right now and gathering in smaller groups than ever, we still need a feel-good time and a belly laugh as much as ever. Enter game night. Whether with the kids or just another couple, some friendly competition will spice up an otherwise lackluster Friday night. It’s time to turn off the screens and gather around the family table for some old-fashioned fun.

We’ve rounded up the best games for kids of any age, grown-ups or any combination of the two you can pull together. A little face-to-face, personal interaction does wonders for our souls! Some of these games allow even the youngest kids to be on an even playing field with adults, and they’ll think that’s super cool. Just tell them you let them win!

Get the snacks ready and pull the classics out of the attic — or pop into a local toy store for something you’ve never played. It’s time for game night.

Games for Little Kids

There’s something sweet about sharing a walk through the peppermint forest as you introduce a new generation to this classic game. Kids learn basic board game skills like taking turns, counting spaces and drawing cards. 

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Stretch, bend, contort and giggle in this game that throws all social distancing (far) out the window. Your kiddos will end up on the floor in a heap of laughter as they attempt to stretch the right hand to red over somebody else’s head.

Chutes and Ladders
A tried-and-true board game that will excite your preschoolers while building their counting skills, all without requiring them to be able to read.

Yeti in my Spaghetti
A silly game for ages 4 and up where players remove the plastic spaghetti noodles perched on the edge of the bowl one-by-one until the yeti falls.

Chocolate Chai Popcorn

This popcorn is fall in a bowl — warm spices and a salty, sweet mix of seasonings makes it irresistible.

2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt 
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels

1. Combine all dry seasonings in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat with one kernel of popcorn. Once that kernel pops, add the rest of the popcorn and cover with a lid. Cook until most of the kernels have popped, shaking the pot vigorously once or twice to prevent burning. 

3. Once the popping has slowed, remove from heat. Sprinkle with seasonings and stir to coat. Let cool, then serve immediately or store in an airtight container until serving. Serves 6

Engage the Big Kids

Apples to Apples
Just deal the cards and you’re ready to play; no complicated rules to memorize here. It’s as simple as comparing … you get it. Bonus — it works for any number of players. 

This addictive game centers around the mission “trade, build, settle,” as you develop land and form a civilization. Best played with 3 – 4 players, you can play for as short or long as you like. Staying engaged, however, isn’t a problem.

Was it Professor Plum in the library with the revolver? Murder, intrigue and a parent’s nostalgia for the 1985 dark comedy film make this fun for everyone.

Axis and Allies
History comes alive as five major world powers compete for supremacy as each player plans their attack, resolves conflicts and manages a war-time economy. 

Grandma might remember the old-fashioned game called telephone, but think of this as telephone in drawing form! While reviewers say you don’t have to be a good artist to play, part of the fun is ribbing the other players for their terrible drawing — and guessing— skills.

Hilarious tasks and challenges await as each player makes their way around the board of this game for ages 16 and up. Show off your skills at singing, drawing, sketching, whistling and more.

A grown-up game of dominoes goes well with cocktails and spicy rum almonds. Gold and lucite dominoes and straw coasters from Living Well, Fairhope.

Rummy Almonds

This addictive snack offers a flavorful kick.

1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
1 tablespoon hot sauce (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups raw almonds

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Place all ingredients except almonds in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Add almonds and stir until coated, and then pour onto prepared baking sheet. Use a spatula to spread out the hot almonds and sauce.

3. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container until serving. Makes 4 cups

Give the Grown-Ups a Turn

Trivial Pursuit
Test your knowledge of geography, entertainment, history, arts and literature, science and nature, and sports and leisure with the “genus” edition, or grab one of the later editions that focus on a specific theme or time period, like “Star Wars,” the 1980s or Baby Boomers.

The ultimate game of capitalism pits one budding developer against another in a game that can last all night and end in someone’s total ruin … unless they suddenly inherit an annuity and get to pass “go” and collect $200! We’ve got dibs on the horse.

Cards Against Humanity A self-described “party game for horrible people,” this question-and-answer card game gives you the chance to be as creatively ridiculous as possible. Don’t even think about playing if you’re easily offended or dislike sexual jokes and potty humor.   

Beat the timer as teammates draw images and guess words and phrases in hopes of making it down the board before their opponents.

Catch Phrase
This handheld electronic game prompts any of 5,000 words or phrases. Just get your teammate to guess it by giving descriptive clues before time runs out.

Beer Pong
The traditional game of “I sink it, you drink it” can extend beyond the frat house and make for Sunday afternoon fun with friends.

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