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Guest Post: Family Fun Night


photo by Ella’s Dad

Guest Post by Katie from Cincinnati Cents

After a busy week of school, work, and extra-curricular activities, it’s sometimes difficult to imagine cramming another activity into an already-packed schedule. However, taking the time to purposefully plan a block of family time together is worth more than every quiet moment we could ever possess.

Picking one evening every week (or every other week, as your life may dictate at the time) as a “family fun night” allows families the ability to reconnect on a weekly basis, ensuring no one is lost in the shuffle of the daily routines of our lives. The night chosen is immaterial, as is the exact amount of time allotted to the event. It is crucial, however, that the activity chosen is enjoyable for all, and that every member of the family feels included. The focus should be on the family unit as a whole, and not on one particular individual.   

There are always a few more popular choices around our house for a family evening together. In the winter, and during inclement weather, our children love having a picnic in the living room. We spread blankets out over the entire floor (which not only creates a “picnic” atmosphere, but protects the carpet as well!), and enjoy our picnic dinner together. We often put on our family movies, recapturing the kids’ younger moments together. They laugh together at each others’ antics and marvel at how small they once were.

Cooking together is another fun choice for families. One of our favorites is making homemade pizza. The smell of warm yeast quickly gathers everyone around the kitchen counter, and eager hands rapidly knead the dough. Once the dough has risen, and is rolled out to the desired shape, children enjoy choosing their own toppings, and “decorating” their pizza. It is simple to make personal sized pizzas, allowing each child to become a master chef for the evening.

A family game night is an inclusive choice for families with children of varying ages. Older children can pair up with younger siblings for more challenging games, thus allowing co-sibling teams to be formed. On the flip side, younger children delight in playing their favorites with older family members. If every family member chooses one game, no one feels excluded. But, of course, who chooses first? Put numbers in a bowl and allow everyone to choose. This not only ensures a fair order, but also assists younger children in easy number recognition (as a homeschooling mom, I can’t resist those “teachable moments”!).

As odd as it sounds, we have also made family cleaning into a fun evening on more than one occasion. We have a master list of weekly chores that we highlight as we go along. When we choose this “divide and conquer” method, every child picks a few jobs out of each category. We then divvy up washcloths and cleaners (or spray bottles of water for our younger ones), put on some loud music that we all enjoy, and dive in. Afterwards, the kids tend to find a treat that has mysteriously appeared on the counter– usually ice cream!

The possibilities for a planned day or evening together are endless. The end result however, is priceless. Everyone goes away with such a feeling of connectedness–a sense of belonging that cannot be recreated outside this integral family unit. These moments are worth more than any number a price tag could bear.

Katie is a homeschooling mother of four. She blogs at Cincinnati Cents,
where she shares money-saving ideas, deals, and frugal activities to
enjoy as a family.

From Crystal: What are some of your family’s favorite ways to celebrate a night of fun together without spending a lot of money? I’d love to hear!

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  • LANA says:

    Lately we build a fire on cool evenings and sit in the living room and read books and tell stories. It’s fun to hear a 3 year old’s version of how his day went…

  • Brittany says:

    We do themed dinners. Monday is “Mexican Monday” because my husband LOVES Mexican food…this way I know that he will be getting a dish he likes at least once a week…lol. Every Friday night is “Clarke Family Pizza Party” night. We actually use the pizza dough recipe from your other blog 🙂 Each of us gets to decorate our own pizzas. This definitely saves $$ and the kids (and my hubby…lol) have a good time!

  • christine says:

    We like to take a walk to a local park or go to the gym- both get lots of energy out of the kids before bedtime!

  • Trixie says:

    Hello Katie!

    I love your ideas for inexpensive family fun. One of our family favorites is to go fishing and hiking. If you dig the worms yourself it’s totally free (ahem, we usually buy the worms for $2).

    However, don’t get all grossed out about digging the worms. Actually most kids (especially the boys) might think digging worms is a fun family activity in itself. haa ha.

    Take Care,


  • Kari says:

    We have a family day once a week. We may play at a park, go for walks, color and make crafts, play in the yard, or go to really fun toy stores that let the kids play with toys. It doesn’t really matter what we do, the point is to just reserve the day for your family and not to let other things interrupt it. My girls get so excited when they find out its the day daddy doesn’t have to go to work b/c that means its family fun day =)

  • Kelly says:

    We have family slumber party night. We all get in our PJ’s , turn on a movie, play games, eat popcorn and candy, and all fall asleep in the master bed or on the family room floor!!

  • Melissa B. says:

    We are big Disney Fans at our house. During our trip to Disney, we purchased a Disney Cookbook (recipes from the resorts). Once every few months, we pick a recipe from the cookbook, pick a Disney Movie and put on our mouse ears and have a Disney evening.

  • Rebecca C says:

    We cook together then watch a movie, it is the only day we can eat in front of the TV because we talked during cooking, afterwards we play board games and just hang out together.

  • Nicki says:

    We try to set aside Friday nights for our Family Nights. (Because of travel schedules, we haven’t done it the last two weeks, though.) We usually have a theme for each night and then I do my best to use what we have around the house to accomplish it. I do give myself a small budget of about $10/wk. to use, if needed. However, I rarely use it.

    I’ve posted about some of our Family Nights on my blog.

  • Rona says:

    We are actually planned our renewal ceremony together. Our teenage son has been fantastic. He actually had a great time working on it.
    This is definitely a family event.
    We love playing Trivial Pursuit, especially the new TV show. It’s funny how much are son knows.

  • saverchic says:

    We love to play Cornhole or Bags! We play outside in the summer, and in the basement in the winter. It’s so much fun, and you can play with as many or as few people as you want.

  • April says:

    Thanks for this reminder. Life gets so busy that family time seems to fall to the bottom of the list.

  • taraw says:

    On several occasions we have played hide-n-seek in the dark. We turn off the lights in the house and make a “base” like the couch. We give the kids some flash lights for searching and we have a blast!

  • Gidget says:

    I love this idea! I actually just wrote a post about themed family nights too!
    (you can click my name for link)

  • Mary H. says:

    Family cleaning night – what a great idea!!

    We have a family walk night where we walk for about 2 miles as a family – even the 3 year old walks and loves it. We talk about nature and other things as we follow the nature trail close to our house.

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