Inside: Top game ideas for families with teens that you need to add to your holiday family time list.
Navigating the world of teenagers can often feel like walking through a maze with a blindfold, right!?
Especially when it comes to planning a family game night that doesn’t include eye-rolls and ‘too cool for this’ moments.
I’ve discovered it’s less about the games we play and more about how we engage our teens in the process that makes the difference. Although a fun game helps for sure!
Here are my favorite game night ideas that have turned our expected family obligations into anticipated gatherings, transforming my surly teens with laughter and competitive banter.
I love these outdoor games for teenagers and always prefer fresh air with the twins, but these indoor games are great for cozy snow days and extended family visits this holiday season.
Fun Games To Play With Tweens & Teens
From the creative chaos of our family’s many game nights, here’s an insider’s list of fun-packed, tween-approved games that have won the coveted ‘thumbs-up’ from my own discerning teenagers!
1. Karaoke Night
Nothing beats the joy and hilarity of a home karaoke session. We take turns belting out our favorite tunes, often dressing up for the part. Sometimes we even make it a ‘blind’ karaoke challenge where the singer doesn’t see the lyrics. Trust me, it’ll bring the laughs, especially with those off-the-cuff performances.
2. Puzzle Mania
While this may sound traditional, hear me out. We’re not talking about simple jigsaw puzzles, but instead a massive game of brain-teasers, Sudoku, crosswords, or even 3D puzzles. We often team up in pairs and make it a friendly competition. It’s a fantastic workout for the brain and leads to some quality teamwork.
3. Movie Marathon Bingo
We combine the thrill of bingo with our love for films. Before our movie marathon, we create bingo cards with predictions like “unexpected plot twist” or “cameo appearance.” Mark your spots when they happen on screen! It’s a unique way to stay engaged, especially with films we’ve seen before.
If you’re playing this during the holiday season here’s a Christmas movie bingo set to snag.
4. Improv Comedy Night
This one is a hoot! We set up an improv stage where we take turns performing short comedy skits, but here’s the catch… the topics are drawn from a hat and totally spontaneous. From miming to pun challenges, the focus is on quick thinking and, of course, humor.
It’s incredible what hilarious scenarios we come up with on the spot. This is like charades, but even better!
Digital Family Games for Teens
Tried-and-true digital game ideas for families with teens. Teen-tested and parent-approved, these online games are guaranteed to bring smiles, laughter, and some healthy competition to your next family game night.
5. Virtual Reality (VR) Exploration
On days we’re feeling particularly adventurous, we dive into virtual worlds. If you have access to a VR headset, exploring scenic landscapes, playing interactive games, or visiting virtual museums can be thrilling. We take turns, and everyone else tries to guess the player’s environment based on their descriptions.
Just make sure you’re filming when grandpa tries this one out. 😉
6. Video Game Tournament
Our family loves to hold video game tournaments. Whether it’s racing, adventure, or trivia games, we pick a game that suits all skill levels.
We draw brackets, have elimination rounds, and the winner gets a prize (or bragging rights until the next tournament). It’s always a great time, and we get pretty competitive!
7. Murder Mystery Evening
We transform our home into a scene from a mystery novel. We either download a murder mystery kit here or create our own story, complete with characters and plots. Dressing up is mandatory, and we spend the evening in character, trying to solve the ‘crime’.
The dramatic revelations and plot twists make for hours of entertainment. I go more in-depth on this in my murder mystery party teens edition. This is a fun way to turn a large family gathering into a night of fun.
8. Talent Show Extravaganza
We have a family talent night where we each prepare an act to perform in front of everyone else. It’s not just about singing or dancing; we’ve had magic tricks, stand-up comedy, and even juggling acts. We sometimes film the performances, and watching them later adds to the fun.
9. Artistic Painting Challenge
We’re no Picassos, but that’s what makes our painting challenges so hilarious. We set a theme, gather our paints, and try to create a masterpiece within a time limit.
Displaying our ‘art’ and trying to guess what each person painted is the best part. It’s amazing (and amusing) to see how different our interpretations of the same theme can be.
9. Trivia Quizzes
We can’t get enough of trivia nights. We use trivia websites or apps and compete in different categories. Sometimes, we make our own quizzes, with each family member contributing questions, making it more personal and often more challenging. The diverse topics keep everyone engaged, and we always end up learning something new.
Quick Games to Play with Teens and Siblings
Seize those fleeting moments with your teens and their siblings with this next go-to list of quick, engaging game ideas for family game night with your with teens. I promise they’ll add bursts of laughter and camaraderie, even on the busiest of days!
10. Speedy Charades
Our version of charades is a fast-paced riot. We jot down ideas on slips of paper, throw them into a bowl, and then it’s a race against time. Each person gets only 30 seconds to act out as many words as possible for their team to guess. We keep swapping until the bowl is empty.
The quick-switch and time pressure add an exhilarating urgency that we all love.
11. Freeze Dance
This one’s a classic and never fails to get us moving and laughing. We crank up our favorite tunes and dance like nobody’s watching. The catch? As soon as the music stops, everyone must freeze instantly, no matter how silly the pose.
The last person to stop moving is out, and we go on until there’s one “statue” left standing.
12. Would You Rather – Rapid Fire Edition
We take ‘Would You Rather’ questions to the next level by making it a speed challenge. We sit in a circle, and one person asks the person next to them a ‘Would You Rather’ question. They have five seconds to answer before it moves to the next person. It’s fascinating (and often hilarious) to hear what choices we make when on the spot.
If you prefer never have I ever, here are some never have I ever questions for teen!
13. Quick Sketch
All you need is a drawing pad and a timer. We pick a word or phrase, set the timer for two minutes, and everyone has to draw it out. Once time’s up, we share our drawings and vote on the best (and funniest) interpretations. It’s incredible how creative we can get under time pressure.
14. One-Word Story Challenge
Storytelling takes a funny turn when we do it one word at a time. We sit in a circle, and one person starts a story with just a single word. Moving clockwise, everyone else adds one word at a time. The results? Some of the most bizarre and hilarious stories we’ve come up with together. Sometimes, for an extra challenge, we set a theme or genre.
15. Name That Song
Everyone breaks up into teams of two, and you take turns playing 3-second snippet intros of songs. Every time you get it right, you get a point. The team who makes it to 13 points first wins!
Strategy Game Ideas for Families with Teens
Last but not least, challenge the intellect and stir the competitive spirit of your family with these strategy game ideas for families with teens, perfect for captivating and entertaining teens on game night.
16. Room Escape Battles
My family adores this one, especially the teens. We design mini-escape challenges for each other in different rooms of the house. Each team gets a set of puzzles, riddles, and maybe a few physical tasks that require strategic thinking to solve. We use things like coded messages, hidden keys, and secret compartments to make it exciting.
The team that escapes their room fastest, using the fewest hints, wins! It’s all about problem-solving and critical thinking, and the adrenaline rush is real.
17. Spyfall – Home Edition
Based on the popular party game “Spyfall,” we create our homegrown version. One person is secretly assigned the role of the ‘spy’ while the others are ‘agents’ who know the secret location (a place in our house). By asking strategic questions, we have to figure out who the spy is before the spy learns the location.
The catch is asking questions that are revealing enough to identify the spy but not so obvious that the spy catches on. The intense reasoning and bluffing keep us all on edge!
18. Build Your Own Civilization
Inspired by civilization-building video games, we create a simplified version using paper and pens. Each of us takes a piece of land (marked areas on paper) and decides how to develop it, balancing resources between building infrastructures, investing in ‘technology,’ and maintaining an ‘army’ for defense. Random events thrown into the mix require quick strategizing and adaptability.
We negotiate, form alliances, or declare paper wars. The goal could be anything from achieving a certain development point to ‘conquering’ another’s territory through strategic planning.
When all else fails, teach the kids to play Poker! This has been one of my favorite family pastimes and is always a great way to reconnect whether we are at home, on vacation or anywhere.
Pro tip: On vacation use candy as chips for a fun and tasty game night away.
A fun and connected family game night is a rare and precious victory in the realm of parenting teens!
I love it when my normally too-cool to play teenagers linger a bit longer, their smiles more genuine for one night.
Sometimes it’s the simplest games where we can reconnect and find common ground. These nights aren’t always flawless, but encouraging our family bonds is always worth it!
Playfulness has no age limit.
If bonding is what you are trying to do, you may want to capture it on camera. Check out these family photos with teens ideas!