5 Crazy Simple (& Free!) Ways To Fill Family Game Night With Fun

Family game nights always sound like a fun idea– but have you found yourself acting as a referee in the “what game should we play?” battle?
Then, once you broker a peace with a game everyone is happy with…you need to track it down, drag it off the shelf, confirm all the pieces are in the box, set it up, re-read the rules (maybe that last one is just me).

Game Night doesn’t need to be that complicated!

We like to keep family game night simple – these ideas are old favorites – with some new twists.
The best part? They are free! Bonus points because there is no clean up. Just recycle the paper and put the pencil back!

Simple family game night - ideas using just pencil and paper!

You already have what you need to pull this off!

You need just 3 things.

  • something to write with
  • something to write on, and
  • ideas for play!

Read on for games a step beyond tic-tac-toe (which, actually is a game we like to spice up beyond the paper and pencil version!)

Looking to include little ones? — check out the “Modify it” sections below!  These are ideas to let non-readers/early readers join in the laughter, bonding, and great memories.

  • Draw a SILLY Story:
    • Take turns adding to a big sheet of paper.
    • The first person starts drawing, and tells their part of the story, and then passes it on.
    • The next person adds to the same story. 
    • I guess it doesn’t absolutely have to be a silly story – but they sure are fun!
    • Modify It — Little ones can join right in on this one!
  • Paper Telephone: 
    • You’ve played telephone before, right? Where everyone sits in a circle and someone whispers to the next person, who whispers to the person next to them, and by the end “I want cheese” has turned into “My eyes want to sneeze”? This is the paper version!
    • Here’s how to play:
      • Everyone starts with a piece of paper and a pencil.
      • Each person draws a picture, then passes the paper to the person next to them.
      • That person writes the caption of that picture. Then folds the paper down covering only the picture, not the caption, and hands the paper to the next person.
      • The next person reads the sentence, draws the picture to go along with the sentence caption, and folds the paper down covering the drawing, but leaving the  caption.
      • The next person in line then reads the caption, draws a picture for it, folds the paper over the caption, and hands it to the next person…
      • Keep passing the paper until you get your paper back.
    • Modify it: Make sure that the little ones are the ones who get to draw. The person before them will whisper their sentence to them.
      • Or let them tell (you can try to get them to whisper, but good luck!) the person next to them the sentence to write to go with the picture.
      • The little ones may be loud with their sentence, but I guarantee you they will be funny!
      • You can also have the little ones be the “final illustrator” and have them work on drawing the resulting story.

Family game night ideas! Pencil and paper games to play with the whole family!

  • Scavenger Hunt:
    • Divide into 2 teams, and each team goes into one room.
    • Each team creates a list of items (agree on a number) for the other team to find.
    • Exchange lists, and see who can complete the list first.
    • Or come up with the list together and then each team tries to find it.
    • Our tip — be specific. If the list says “shoelace” — and that lace must be out of the shoe, make sure the list says so!
    • Modify it: Just make sure to read the items to the little ones. I would read one or two items at a time. Remembering a big list might be hard for the little ones.
  • Charades: Divide equally into 2 teams. Each team chooses a tv show, quote, movie, song, or book for other team to take turns acting out. For complete rules, click here.
    • Modify it: Tell the little ones what they need to act out- making sure it’s something they are familiar with.
  • Pictionary: Similar to charades, but you draw rather than act out the clues. For complete rules, click here.
    • Modify it: We have the adults and older kids do most of the drawing, and the littlest join in energetically for the guessing! They also sometimes draw their own clues- usually announcing, “I’m going to draw a ___!” before they begin!
  • Classification:  Each person creates a grid of 6 by 6 boxes. Agree on 5 categories, and choose a 5 letter word. Set the timer for 10 minutes, and try to come up with an item in each category for each letter of the word. This is one we play every time my extended family is together. We love it so much, check out this post for classification rules.
    • Modify it: ok, this is one you really can’t modify. Which is why it’s a bonus 6th game on a list of 5! Although I will say that some of my favorite childhood memories are sitting with my cousin in the other room as a Classification “team” while my uncle helped us (ssh! don’t tell — we know helping was against the rules!).
And finally – the best part! No picking up pieces that rolled under the chair or digging in couch cushions for dice. Just recycle your paper and put the pencils away. Clean up is done!
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Easiest family game night ideas ever! Use only a pencil and paper for these fun for the whole family games!

Family Game Night: 5 ideas using only paper and pencil

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