Growing up, my family and I used to play games almost every night after dinner. There were countless Monopoly marathons, Uno matches that would rival competitive sports, and more than a few domino games that included ‘friendly wagers.’ And while admittedly, I needed a long break before I could eagerly jump back into the game night frenzy, as an adult, I’m happy to keep the tradition going. To help you do the same, I’ve rounded up my favorite game night games that are guaranteed to keep you laughing well into the night. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Before you scroll through, here are a few tips to take game night from an obligatory commitment to something everyone will look forward to. I love making a special but stress-free meal (or putting together a varied spread of appetizers), popping open a bottle of wine, and setting the scene with a curated playlist that has something for everyone.
Not one for competition? No worries. While you can certainly catch me *aggressively* engaging in all of the games below, when you get down to it, I’m simply happy to be surrounded by my favorite people without any screens among us. And, of course, we certainly don’t need excuses to make that happen. If we’ve learned anything from the past two years (and my goodness, we’ve certainly learned a lot), it’s this: Coming together, connecting, and offering up your presence alone is always enough.
But with that being said, after the greetings and hugs are given, it’s always good to have an activity or two that’ll help you further facilitate the fun. Whether you’re a player who’s all about strategy or someone who loves leaning into their luck, you’ll have your pick of all the best game night games below.
Feature image by Kristen Kilpatrick.
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25 Best Game Night Games
We’re Not Really Strangers Card Game Expansion Pack
More and more games are coming out that are dedicated to inspiring thoughtful conversations. They allow you to go deep with other players, even if you’ve only just met. We’re Not Really Strangers is all of this and more (there’s a reason the game took social media by storm!).
In this game, crafting a full-blown, beautiful patchwork blanket is the goal. It’s great for players who moonlight as puzzle fanatics (so… everyone) and even lets you indulge in a little strategic thinking.
Werewolf: A Party Game for Devious People
You need at least seven people to play Werewolf, making it a great option for game night. Every player gets a character card (1 Moderator, 1 Seer, 1 Doctor, and 2 Werewolves) and the Werewolves work together to select a victim. Accusations and lies ensue—but don’t worry, it’s just a game.
While I love getting competitive, sometimes a cooperative game is more my speed. Just One is the perfect blend of Catch Phrase and Monikers (keep scrolling for those recs below). Players work together to give their teammates clues that help them guess the mystery words.
Cards Against Humanity
It’s not game night without the mother of all game night games. Cards Against Humanity is a ridiculous, adult-themed take on the card game Apples to Apples, and it’s quickly worked its way to the No. 1 best-selling spot in the toys and games department.
When The New York Times calls something “The perfect party game,” you believe it. It’s simple to play. In three rounds, players give clues and try to get their team to guess as many of the names as possible from the deck. Round one: Say whatever you need to get your team to guess the name on each card (without, of course, using the name itself). Round two is a little more challenging. Using the same cards from the first round, you can only offer up one word as your hint. Round three? Charades, my friends.
If memory serves me correctly, I believe this easy, but strategic (and wildly fun) card game came into my life on my sixth birthday—and I’ve played at least a monthly round of Rat-A-Tat-Cat ever since. While it’s simple enough for young children to enjoy, there’s plenty of skill and intuition packed in. Each player is dealt four cards kept face-down. Cards are numbered one through nine, and with every turn, players draw a card from the deck trying to end up with the lowest score.
Whether it’s a reunion, holiday, or really any time my family finds ourselves together, you can bet we’ll be playing Mille Bornes. French for a thousand milestones, Mille Bornes is the classic, mid-century card game that has players racing head-to-head.
Want to get to know your friends better? Then you have to play the Hot Seat card game, which will help you find out who your friends really are—you may even discover a few things you didn’t want to know!
Admittedly, because of my proud cat lady status, I was initially turned off by the name. But because of Exploding Kittens’ popularity, the Russian Roulette-style game piqued my curiosity and found its way into my game night rotation. Contrary to what you might think, it’s a family-friendly option that’s fun for kids and adults alike. And while I love welcoming almost any game into my life, my patience wanes when I have to leaf through ten pages of instructions.
Good news: one of this game’s biggest selling points is that you can go from knowing nothing to becoming an Exploding Kittens expert in under two minutes.
From naming celebrities to singing to silly accents, Head’s Up is sure to bring a ton of laughs. You have to guess the word on the card that’s on your head from your friends’ clues before the timer runs out!
5 Second Rule
5 Second Rule is a simple, yet incredibly fun game where you are challenged to name three of whatever topic is on the card—sometimes you’ll be able to name them in three seconds and other times your mind will go completely blank!
Only serious game players are allowed! There are two spymasters and each spymaster is trying to get their team to guess which word or picture cards are theirs by only saying one very strategic word.
Codenames is a word game that will force you to really use your brain, but it feels so good when you win!
I recently played this game on vacation and it was way more fun than I remembered (it helps that I kept winning!). Sorry! is proof that sometimes, the best games are the ones we loved but haven’t played since childhood. All the more reason to break out your favorite, classic game night games.
It’s time to give Sorry! a second chance and bring it out at your next game night.
Catch Phrase is definitely an oldie, but a goodie. If you haven’t played, you try to get your teammates to guess the word or phrase that appears, but you can’t say any of the words on the screen.
Ticket to Ride
In this cross-country train adventure game, you and your friends will collect cards and grow your railway across America. If you can connect two cities and have the longest railway, you’re the winner. If you want your array of game night games to keep the party going all night long, this is a great pick to include.
Some might write it off as being only for kids, but not a family holiday goes by without my sisters and I breaking out the Sleeping Queens box. The game is fast-moving and requires some quick thinking on every player’s part. The game ends when the player who wakes the most queens wins.
Bananagrams is simple: build your own crossword with the tiles you’re dealt with, and the first player to complete their grid is the winner. Honestly, though, this is one of the few games where I forget all about the competition, rewrite the rules, (hey, it’s my game night), and throw the timer away. Instead, I love focusing on trying to use up the whole bag of letters and seeing all the creative combos people can come up with.
I. Love. Scattergories. End of story. It’s one of my favorite game night games for a reason. While Scattergories has been around for years, it never gets old. The classic, category-based game puts your creativity to the test. Each round only takes about three minutes to complete, so you can fill your game night full of Scattergories.
The Hygge Game
While this is less about competition and more a game meant to inspire meaningful conversations, it nonetheless gets to the heart of game night: connecting and coming together with family and friends.
Okay, everyone is familiar with this game since it’s been around since the ’60s, but we think it has been unjustly forgotten over time. The great thing about Twister is that it is just as appropriate at an eight-year-old birthday party as at a grown-up party. Because after all, the greatest game night games can be enjoyed by players of all ages.
What Do You Meme?
If memes crack you up, you’ll seriously love this game. Think Cards Against Humanity, but with meme captions as the playing cards to make the best photo/text combo.
Was trivia night at your local bar the highlight of your week? Bring the fun home with Smart Ass, a game where you have to shout out the answer to each who, what, or where question first to win the round.
This all-rounder game is played in teams and forces players to use different kinds of creative intelligence, hence the name. Teams try to complete tasks by doing all kinds of things—getting your teammates to guess what you’re making out of clay, solving a puzzle, acting out a scene, or spelling words backward, for example.
Like Catan, but different (and IMO—better). With 2-5 players and a bit of strategy in your back pocket, your goal is to place tiles to construct the landscape around the medieval French city of Carcassonne. Build, create, and claim roads, fields, and monasteries with your followers to win the game. When it comes to the best game night games, you’ll want to be sure you have this one on hand.
This post was originally published on April 19, 2019, and has since been updated.
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