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Plan an Epic Family Game Night!

Bringing the family together for game night - what could be simpler? After a long pandemic rolling the same dice or shuffling the same cards, you may be feeling less than inspired. I get it. To inspire new rounds of play and plenty of memories, here are some parent-tested game picks complete with family-friendly food pairings, along with my top tips to keep the game night tradition going strong.

Wildcraft!
Type:
Board
Number of players: Up to four
Best for: Ages four+
Plan to spend: 45 to 60 minutes
Pairs with: Herbal tea

With the recent surge in camping and hiking, parents are fielding more “hey, what’s this plant?” questions than ever before. This simple “Chutes and Ladders” style board game teaches kids about plant safety and first-aid and can be enjoyed by pre-readers and adults alike. The game board and box are made with all recycled materials and printed with vegetable-based inks on Forest Stewardship Council certified paper. A portion of the proceeds benefit United Plant Savers. To purchase, visit learningherbs.com/wildcraft.

Chickapig: A Farm to Table Game
Type:
Board
Number of players: two or four
Best for: Ages eight+
Plan to spend: 30 to 60 minutes
Pairs with: Crunchy veggies like carrots, radishes, and sugar snap peas

This classic family board game feels as fresh as farm produce with its simple design, wooden game pieces, and organic, folksy appeal. A collaboration between game creator Brian Calhoun (of Rockbridge Guitar) and musician Dave Matthews, this strategy game features fantastical creatures, hay bales, and enough manure to keep kids giggling. “Not going to lie, I totally bought it because Dave Matthews is involved,” says parent Breeayn Douhit. “Glad I did, though. It’s surprisingly fun!” To purchase, visit chickapig.com.

Kids Against Maturity 
Type:
Card (expansions and combo packs)
Number of players: four to eight
Best for: Ages 10+
Plan to spend: 30 to 90 minutes
Pairs with: Kid-friendly snacks, from fruit roll-ups to cheese crackers

If you want to share the hilarity of the wildly popular “Cards Against Humanity” (CAH) game with your kids but can’t quite get past its famously R-rated content, look no farther. Aimed at kids who are outgrowing the much tamer “Apples to Apples” game but not ready for CAH, “Kids Against Maturity” is suited for family play. Players combine words and phrases to uproarious effect, with plenty of silliness and potty-themed humor to keep kids completely entertained. To purchase, visit amazon.ca.

Splendor
Type:
Card and token
Number of players: two to four
Best for: Ages 10+
Plan to spend: 30 minutes
Pairs with: Jewel-tone gummies 

School-age kids who love Minecraft, or appreciate a well-crafted strategy game, will enjoy “Splendor.” Players are merchants attempting to build a collection of gem mines and shops and collect jewel-tone chips to acquire points. The game has a historical feel without a complicated narrative, so families can easily enjoy it over and over again. To purchase, visit amazon.ca; mindgames.ca.

What Do You Meme? Family Edition
Type:
Card
Number of players: four to eight
Best for: Ages eight+
Plan to spend: 30 to 60 minutes
Pairs with: Hot cocoa bombs or another Insta-worthy snack

Having trouble finding a game even hard-to-please teens will love? Entice reluctant game-nighters back to the table with this side-splitting family edition of the popular “What Do You Meme?” party game. Players use 300 caption cards and 65 photo cards to create the funniest memes, as decided by a rotating judge. This affordable game deserves a spot in your feed (or game cabinet). For more information, visit whatdoyoumeme.com. To purchase, visit amazon.ca; chapters.indigo.ca.

Ecologies
Type:
Card
Number of players: Up to six
Best for: Ages 12+
Plan to spend: 60 to 90 minutes
Pairs with: Locally-grown produce and a healthy dip

Created by a biology instructor, “Ecologies” is a beautifully illustrated card game that’s educational enough to feel enriching - it’s been used as a teaching tool in science classrooms - with a healthy dose of competitive strategy thrown in. Players build and nurture their own food systems in biomes around the world and decide whether to disrupt their opponents’ ecosystems. But much like real-world food webs, sustainability isn’t something you achieve alone; trading with other players helps the game feel more collaborative. To purchase, visit thegamecrafter.com/games/ecologies.

Gnomes at Night
Type:
Board
Number of players: two to four
Best for: Ages six+
Plan to spend: 15 minutes
Pairs with: Bugles (Aka gnome hats)

Searching for a kid-friendly game that’s more collaborative and less cutthroat? If highly competitive games are too intense for your younger children, check out “Gnomes at Night”; a cooperative maze game that allows players to work together. The game builds decision-making and communication as players team up to maneuver adorable magnetic gnomes through a maze. To purchase, visit amazon.ca; mastermindtoys.com.

Classic Sorry!
Type:
Board
Number of players: two to six
Best for: Ages six+
Plan to spend: 30 to 45 minutes
Pairs with: Twizzlers, Ritz Crackers, or Tootsie Pops (all popular 1930s snack foods)

Patented in the 1930s, “Sorry” is a classic board game that grandparents will remember, and kids still love. Players attempt to knock one another out of the game (“Sorry!”) as they race around the board. The game reinforces sportsmanship and strategy with a fast-moving, familiar feel. The original version has spawned many spin-offs; unlike more modern editions that incorporate electronics, this version features classic graphics and is 100 percent unplugged. To purchase, visit amazon.ca; walmart.ca.

Poetry for Neanderthals
Type:
Card
Number of players: two or four
Best for: Ages seven+
Plan to spend: 15 minutes
Pairs with: Nuts (or allergy-friendly alternatives), seeds, and dried berries

Fans of the uproarious “Exploding Kittens” card game will recognize its signature irreverent illustrations in “Poetry for Neanderthals.” This competitive word-guessing game takes just a few minutes to learn, so you can spend less time explaining the rules and more time cracking up together. With each round taking just 15 minutes, you can play more than once (or squeeze in a quick game night before tuck-in). To purchase, visit explodingkittens.com.

Malia is a health and family journalist who loves a good game night.

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