How to Host a Budget-Friendly Family Game Night


I love my family; but I’ll be the first to admit that we don’t spend nearly enough time together. With everyone’s different schedules, priorities, and obligations, it can be hard to get us together in the same room!

More recently, one of my favorite ways to spend time with my family has been at family game nights. I believe that no matter how old you are, you’re never too old to play games, and getting family members in on the action is the perfect excuse for some good, old-fashioned family fun.

But game night doesn’t have to put a dent in your budget! Here are my favorite family game night ideas sure to provide hours of fun and memories–all without breaking the bank.


1. Mark Game Night on Everyone’s Calendars

The first step to ensuring a successful family game night is picking a date!

  • Planning ahead will ensure that family members are free and ready for game night fun when it rolls around.
  • If you’re feeling especially ambitious, try scheduling recurring game nights on the same day each month (e.g. the first Friday), so that everyone knows to block off those nights.

Once your date is selected, mark it on your family calendar and start to get everyone excited! By staying in as opposed to say, going to dinner and a movie, you are already saving money.

2. Don’t Forget Appropriate Game-Time Snacks

Nothing amps up a family game night quite like tasty food and snacks.

  • If your game night starts earlier in the night, consider combining it with dinner and making a budget-friendly one-pot meal. Use your crockpot to make family-friendly, easy-to-throw-together meals or desserts that can be made in advance for minimal prep time.
  • For snacks, opt for popcorn, pretzels, or cheese and crackers, and try to avoid messy snacks to keep everyone’s hands clean! To keep everything budget-friendly, check out the deals at your local wholesaler, or stock up on your favorite snacks when they go on sale at the grocery store (you’ll be glad you did!).

3. Use What You Already Have to Create New Games

With so many great games out there, it can be hard to choose which ones to play at your family game night. New and classic board games are always a fun option, but one of my tricks to save money is to play games using things I already have around the house.

Here are some of my favorite options:

  • Minute To Win It — These games are a great option because you can constantly switch them up to keep things new and exciting. One of my favorite versions involves seeing who can transfer the most M&Ms from one plate to another in one minute using only straw suction.
  • Card games — With one deck of cards, the game night options are endless. Some of my favorites to play with the family include Spoons, Rummy, and Crazy Eights.
  • Pictionary — If you don’t already have the game of Pictionary, you can play a homemade version with a pad of paper and a pen!
  • Downloaded games — Did you know you could download family-friendly games right from your smartphone? One of my favorites, ‘Heads Up’ is only 99 cents, and many more are free! If your device is too old or doesn’t have enough space to run games, maybe it’s time to upgrade to a new phone.

By getting a little creative with your family game night ideas, you’ll never feel limited by the board games on your shelf, and you’ll always have something new and interesting to play.

4. Make game night competitive (and fun!)

To keep things exciting on family game night, it’s always nice to encourage friendly and fun competition by offering prizes or incentives for game night winners.

  • To keep things budget friendly, rather than offer physical or monetary prizes, try to come up with free incentives such as: winner chooses dinner the next night, or winner gets a week off from chores.
  • Of course, bragging rights are always free, too!

By maintaining a sense of friendly competition, family members are more likely to bring their A-game and stay engaged and excited throughout the night.

With these budget-friendly family game night ideas, your next get together is sure to go off without a hitch. I’d love to hear your favorite games and game night traditions, too! Be sure to leave a comment down below, and don’t forget to check out our other tips for frugal families for more money-saving tricks and ideas.

Author: Emily

Emily is a recent UVA grad trying to find her way in this thing they call the “real world”. When she’s not learning about 401(k) plans or budgeting for her next online shopping spree, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen or scouring the district for the best cup of coffee.