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Family Night Ideas

Looking for some new and interesting family night ideas?  Then be sure to read through our list of ideas here as well as our family time ideas on our blog.

Potluck International Food Night - This idea is compliments of Michelle B., a reader of our newsletterThis family activity requires a group of families, preferably in your neighborhood, but could be done as a single family. Each month a different family hosts a potluck international food night. In January all the families get together to choose the countries we want to " visit". Everyone signs up to host a country and we make a master schedule. Each month the host finds traditional music of the country chosen, maps and all the kids have "passports"; they get a special stamp from the host. Many of the families have gotten in to this so much that some find traditional clothing, games etc to bring along. The food is always amazing and this is a great opportunity to learn about other cultures, share community and live cooperatively. It is also note worthy to mention that many childless couples have joined our group and several single elderly neighbors as well. It is truly a cultural and generational event! This is our second year doing this as a neighborhood and we have travelled all over the world together without leaving our street!

Family Art Night - This idea is compliments of Michelle B., a reader of our newsletter
"Each member of our family likes different kinds of art/crafts and our 10 year old would rather play road hockey, but this has seemed to catch even his attention. We all come up with ideas of how we would like to express ourselves through art. We have talked about famous artists, their unique styles and have several friends who are artisans who have shared their vision with us. We pick a project, purchase the supplies together i.e. colors, mediums etc. Then, usually on a Saturday night, we do a cooperative large scale art project together while listening to music. This certainly beats the old stand by of renting a movie and you end up with something amazing and meaningful. We have done a very big graffiti piece that now hangs framed in our dinning room. It is original and everyone asks us about it. This was our 10 year old's idea when we discussed with him all the doodling on his school work. Family art night was an outlet for creative energy and a lesson in where and when such art can take place.  We have two younger children as well. This family art night encompasses all ages and skill levels."

"We are working on a family tree canvas that will have leaves painted on it with all our hand prints. This might be our Easter gift to the grandparents! We also hope to do a garden art project this summer with indigenous plants/wood. This has been a great way to just talk with each other and not have the TV or computer on. Family art night does not have to be complicated or detailed, just full of family imagination."

Make a Family Mailbox
Kids love getting mail and as long as the mail isn't bills, parents love mail too. Add some zip to your family communications by creating a family mailbox. Great for leaving messages of encouragement, love, and support for fellow family members. 

Family Totem Pole
If you enjoy the outdoors, why not try making a family totem pole.  Using items you collect on your next nature or hiking trip in addition to other supplies you might have around the home, create a totem pole that represents the family.  Make sure every family member is represented. 

Family Newsletter
Give your family communication a whole new twist with a Family Newsletter.  They are fun, educational, and more importantly a great way to keep families connected.  

Family Banner
Making a family banner is a fun way for everyone to express themselves and gives the family something to display and look at everyday. 

Family Vacation Jar
A family vacation jar (or box) is a decorated jar used to save for the next big adventure. Decorated with pictures and words of places you want to visit or have visited, the jar becomes a daily visual reminder of your dreams.

Make Dinner Time Fun
Make family nights special by starting off with a great meal.  Add some fun to your family meals by playing family dinner games.  Games add fun to the family dinner, open up family conversation, breakup the monotony of family dinner, and encourage children to eat their vegetables and drink their milk!

Family Game Night
Games are a great way to bring the family together as well as teach children how to be good winners and losers.  Why not try to set aside one night a week or month as family game night.  Try our Racers Ready game if you are looking for some new ideas!

Create a Family Cookbook
Create a family cookbook by asking family members to send you copies of their favorite recipes.  After the family cookbooks have been completed, you can give them as gifts on birthday's, Mother's Day, or at Christmas or Hanukkah. 

American Idol
Do you have a family that loves to sing and dance?  Then try holding your own American Idol show.  Pick one or two family members to be the judges and let the rest compete to see who is the next American Idol.  To make the show more real, you may want to try using a Karaoke Machine or microphone. 

Charades
Acting more your style?  Then try a fun game of Charades.  Simply makeup charade ideas and write on a piece of paper.  Divide the family into teams and act away. 

Dinner and a Movie
Love to cook?  Then try spending an evening whipping up one of your favorite meals together and finishing up with dessert and a movie.  Give each family member a job in the meal preparation, so that everyone is included.  Be sure to check out gradingthemovies.com, kids-in-mind.com, or  Common Sense Media for a quick and easy way to check the appropriateness of a movie for young eyes. 

Family Video and Picture Night
Similar to our dinner and movie night, but rather than watch Hollywood movies, why not spend an evening watching old family videos or leafing through family photos.  Kids love to see themselves when they were babies or reminiscing about last years family vacation.  Also, don't forget your wedding video.  Kids really get a kick out of watching their parents tie the knot. 

Hiking, Biking, and Exploring
How about an adventure into the outdoors?  Take advantage of some of the great national parks and hiking trails and spend your day hiking, exploring, and picnicking. 

Volunteer Together as a Family
Why not spend your family time helping others in need?  Working together as a family to help others in need can be an incredibly powerful way of building family bonds and developing a great sense of pride and fulfillment in all family members.  Visit our Family Giving section for great ideas on how to give to others in need. 

Dinner with Mom and Dad
Finding quality one on one time with each child can be very difficult.  One way of fitting this quality time in is to plan a special breakfast or dinner out with each child either once a week or once a month.  Get a sitter for the other children and just take one child at a time.  This will give each child the opportunity to spend just with you and feel special at the same time. 

Surprise Lunch
Why not surprise your child for lunch one day at school?  If your school allows it, join the child for lunch in the cafeteria or better yet pack a quick picnic lunch to share at a nearby park.  Don't tell them ahead of time you are coming.  This makes the lunch all the more special. 

Cousins Camp
If you are like many families, cousins often don't live close enough to one another to see each other on a regular basis.  To foster the family ties, and keep cousins close, try organizing a cousins camp where the cousins get together either at one of the aunt/uncle's home or even better at Grandma and Grandad's for a few days of fun. 

Backyard Campouts
Backyard camp outs are a great way to get the camping experience without the hassle of packing.  Pitch your tent in the backyard and roast your marshmallows over the coals of an inexpensive charcoal grill.  You can tell ghost stories, catch lightening bugs in a glass jar, and look for some of the great constellations in the sky. 

Breakfast in the Park
Beat the summer heat by having your outdoor fun early in the morning.  Pack a simple breakfast of muffins, yogurt, fruit, and juice boxes/water, invite your closest friends and head to the nearest park.  Let the kids run and play or if you prefer you can use the opportunity to play some great outdoor games

Breakfast Treat
I'm certainly not a "morning person," but my kids and I have been taking a day or two a week and waking up a little bit earlier to go out for breakfast before school starts.  It doesn't have to be any place special.  We've really just enjoy going to a local bagel shop and getting bagels.

The customers in the shop are usually business people picking up large orders for their offices, or just people getting started on their work day.  They all seem to get a kick out of watching the kids giggling and playing together.  Smiles are plentiful and it really sets a nice tone for the day.

Steve Capp is a father of two and lives in Des Moines Iowa with his two kids and wife, Krista.