Best Family Night Card Games to Play in 2018

If you don’t already have one, then a ‘family night’ is a great way to bond with your kids and partner, even extended family. In a day and age where we fill our homes and lives with all sorts of gadgets & electronics, glued to TV's for hours and with our phones like an extension to our arms, it’s hard to make time for the important things. It’s easy for your kids to shut themselves away on games consoles and iPads, but having that time together is important to build on your relationship, talk about your day and have fun making memories.

You don’t have to rush out and buy the latest version of monopoly or stock up on a pile of board games everyone can play, just a pack of cards will do the trick. Here are some card games that are 

Go Fish

Go fish s a simple and easy game for the family collecting sets of four cards that anyone can play. For 2 to 6 players.

In go fish every player gets dealt five cards in their hand to start the game. Keep your hand secret from other players, but if you start with four of a kind, remove them from your hand and you score a point. Throughout game-play as you collect four of a kind you remove it from your hand and score a point. Move around going clockwise, each player takes a turn by asking a specific player for a given card, for example, if you ask someone if they have any 6’s, they have to give you any 6’s they have. If they do not have any of the card you asked fro then they tell you to ‘go fish’, meaning you pick a card from the top of the deck and put it in your hand.

If you run out of cards, but there are still cards left, then you draw five more cards from the deck and carry on play. You keep playing scoring points for four of a kind until there are no cards left to draw from the deck. Whoever completed the most sets of four of a kind wins.

There isn’t too much strategy to this one, other than trying to watch what cards other people are collecting and deciding if they could be useful to you. A simple game to play on family night or any time 

Crazy Eights

This is a slightly more involved card game, but everyone can still play, there are just a few more rules to learn. Perfect for 2 to 4 players. There are many variations, but the basic idea stays the same.

The idea of crazy eights is to get rid of all the cards in your hand, be the first person to get rid of your hand of cards and make sure everyone else has as many cards in their hand as possible. In a game of two people, deal seven cards to each player, in a game of three or four players deal five cards to each player, the rest of the cards go in the pile, put the pile face down and take the first card off of the top of the pile flip it over and put it down as the discard pile.

The first player puts down a card of any suit or type, any cards played from your hand must be in the same suit as the card already down, or be the same face or number card, which then changes the suit of the cards that can be played. The idea is to get the game into the suit of cards you have most of and get rid of your cards round by round. You take turns going around the table placing a card on the discard pile, if you can’t go then you take from the face down pile, the player takes from the pile until they can play a card.

An eight is a wild card, it can be played on top of any other card and the player who placed it down picks the suit that is now in play. The winner is the player who gets rid of all of their cards first, the remaining players then add up their remaining cards, all face cards are worth 10 and numbered cards are worth equal the number on the card, the person with the highest score it the loser.

There are variations to this game such as playing in pairs, scoring over multiple games and other cards with abilities like reversing play and skipping and turn, just take a look on https://www.pagat.com/invented/eights_vars.html for ideas and rules for variations.

Concentration

A great family game and a test for your memory and a way to improve your kids memory. This game can be played with 2 to 6 people, it can be played with more than ix people, but you will want to add another deck to the game. Lay out all of the cards in the deck into rows of seven cards. You each take turns flipping two cards at a time, if they don’t match place them back where they were face down, but if they do match in number or face card then you take the pair and score a point. 

The idea is to try to remember what cards have been flipped over and what they were so when you flip one card you know where its pair is. Once all the pairs have been claimed and there are no face down cards left, count up your points and see who won. Easy to set up and easy to play, this is a great way to train your brain and improve your memory.

Turn over all of the cards on the table or floor in rows of seven. Taking turns, flip over two cards at a time. If the cards are the same, then you get to keep the pair. If not, you turn them back over and the turn goes to the next player. The better your memory, the more pairs you'll score. Once the cards are all gone, the person with the most pairs and best memory wins. 

Head to Head

An easy game that can be taught even to your youngest kids. The game takes two players, shuffle the deck and then split the deck between the two players, the way to win is to end up with all the cards at the end of the game to win. 

To play, players take the card from the top of their deck and place it face down in front of them, at the same time players flip their cards and the player with the highest cards wins and takes both of the cards. If it is a tie between the two players, then both players draw four more cards from their deck and place them down and turn the last card. The last of the four cards is the ‘battle card’, compare the two players ‘battle cards’ whoever has the highest card wins and gets all the cards placed down, if this ends in another draw, keep flipping the cards in order until you have a winner.

A simple game for a quick bit of entertainment between games or to fill some time.

21

No, don’t worry, you aren’t turning your home into a casino, this is a great game for teaching your kids quick maths and probability that will help later in school. 21 is a game of probability and adding to make a hand as close to 21 without going over.

Deal to each player including yourself, two cards face up, going around the table players choose to ‘hit’, draw another card or ‘stick’, stay with the cards they have. The person who has or is closest to 21 wins, if it is a draw, whoever made 21 with the most cards wins.

In a family friendly version you can play with points, tokens, chips or sweets, whatever suits your fancy and family, it doesn’t have to be about betting, it still makes for a fun game and a great way to practice maths skills with your kids.

Check out this video for some more tips on how to play.

Animals

This is a great game for younger more energetic children. To start the game each player picks an animal to be, the longer the name, the better it is for later. All of the cards in the deck are dealt out to the players face down in a pile for each.

Players then take turns turning one card from their pile and placing it in a face up pile next to it. As soon as a player draws a card that matches another face up card on the top of another players pile, those two players race to shut out the other players animal name three times, the first person to do this wins and gets all the cards for their face up pile and adds it to their face down pile. The player with the most cards at the end of the game wins.

Boom

A fast paced game that is great for kids. You can play with up to twelve players, so great for parties and bi families. Each player is dealt seven cards face-down, the rest of the cards go in the deck in the middle of the table face-down. The starting player lays down a card face up, the next player has to put down a card that matches the cards number, face or suit. This continues around the circle until all players have placed down one card, any player that cannot play a card from their hand, draws cards from the deck until they can play a card.

Once the round is over, look over the cards that have been played in this round, the person who put down the highest card then starts the next round, placing down the first card. The starting player then chooses which card to play from their hand, deciding which suit is played. Keep playing rounds until a player has placed all of their card down and has an empty hand, this player must yell “Boom!” and thus wins the game.


Liar

Known by many other names and used at parties, this is a fun game to play and you don’t need alcohol or rude words to play it. For three to six players, each player is dealt five or seven cards each, it’s up to how you prefer to play, but each player has to be dealt the same amount.

The first player places a card face-down and names the number on the card (suit isn’t important), you then go around the table, anyone who can match the card places their card face-down and states the number on the card, or pass and pick a card from the top of the deck and put it in their hand. The trick to the game is that you don’t have to be honest, you can lie about the card you place down.

If another player suspects you are lying then they smack the top of the pile and shout “Liar!”. The challenging player turns the card over and if it is the card you said it was they have to pick up the pile and you get to start the new round. If they catch you lying, you have to pick up all the cards in the pile and the challenger starts the next round.

The game is of clever deceit, deduction and memory, the winning player is the first player to get rid of their hand, the losing player is the last person left with any cards.

Old Maid

To start the game you remove three queens from the deck and put them out of play. Deal the deck out to the players until there are no cards left. The players start by taking any pairs from their hands and placing them down in-front of them, each player does this until there are no pairs left in their hand.

The idea of the game is to not end up with the Queen (Old Maid) at the end of the game. Players take turns holding their hand of cards out, face down to the player to their left. That player picks a card at random and places down any pairs they now have and then presents their cards face down to the next player and so on. Any pairs need to be placed down instantly from your hand.

To win, you need to get as many pairs as possible and get rid of your hand of cards entirely, the losing player will be the unfortunate player who ends up with the ‘Old Maid’ in their hand at the end of the game. Subtlety is key to winning, when picking the ‘Old Maid’ keep a straight face and try to avoid giving away that you now have it. The key is to lull other players into a sense of safety so they accidentally pick it from your hand. Try to place the Old Maid somewhere in you hand that the other player will pick it from, try not to make it obvious and don’t give yourself away.

Once the ‘Old Maid’ is out of your hand feel free to tell everyone how relieved you are, but the best games are the silent ones where the only thing shared is knowing looks.

Spoons

Spoons can be played with anything from 3 to 13 players, more than 6 players makes for the best games. It can be played by young kids and big families easily, it isn’t a complicated game at all. To play you need as many spoons as there are players, but take one spoon away, so if you have six players, you need five spoons. The game doesn’t need to be played with spoons, it can also be played by touching your own nose, sticking your tongue out or whatever you fancy as long as the action and gesture is obvious.

The idea of the game is to collect four of a kind and if another player collects four of a kind first, you want to make sure you aren’t the last player to notice. Organize the deck by having as many sets of four as you have players, they can be any sets of four, but it needs to be equal to the number of players, the rest of the cards are out of play.

Each player is deal four cards for their hand and should never have more than four cards in their hand. Each player takes their turn by picking a card from their hand and placing it face down to the player to their left and then they pick up the card passed to them from the right, making sure to never have more than four cards in their hand.

The first player to get four of a kind has to subtly pick up a spoon and hold it up in front of them or place it on their nose, however you want to play, the player should remain quiet until all the other players notice this. The other players race to not be the last to notice, subtly placing the spoon one of the spoons on their nose, the last player to notice and not be able to pick up a spoon loses.

The last player to notice loses a point or life, each player had three lives, once you have run out you are out of the game, once a player is out of the game remove a set of four of a kind so there is an equal number of sets to players. 

The winners are the last two players left, they are co-winners and can celebrate their great victory together.

Snap!

Snap is a classic family friendly card game all about paying attention and fast reactions, great for young kids. Anywhere between two player to twelve. The whole deck is dealt out to all of the players until there are no cards left, some players may have more cards than others, but this doesn’t mater.

The aim of the game is to have the most cards at the end of the game. Players put their hands face-down and take turns flipping the top card over for everyone to see and putting it in a pile next to their hand. As soon as someone flips a card that matches the card on the top of another players cards pile anyone can shout ‘Snap!’, the first player to shout ‘Snap!’ wins the cards in both of the face up piles and adds them to the bottom of their hand.

If there is a draw then the piles are combined and placed in the middle face up, if at any point a player flips a card that matches the top card of the centre pile then any player can shout ‘Snap Pot!’ and the first to do so wins the pot and adds it to their hand.

The Winner is the player who at the end of the game has the most cards. Quick and easy to set up and fast to play, a great way to engage young energetic kids and have some fun.

Conclusion

All of these great games are perfect for any family night, holiday, trip or wait where you ether need to waste some time, keep the kids entertained or enjoy some nice family time together. Once you’ve played a game a couple of times and you get the hang of it, why not make house rules, add points and prizes, tally the scores, make it your own.

Add enough to these games and you will end up with energetic and enthusiastic weekly tournaments. An even better benefit is spending quality time with your family as well as getting them away from their phones and the TV for a few hours, testing their brains and getting them to interact with each other and enjoy family night.


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