As a Little Girl, I Always Wanted Someone to Play Board Games With Me
There was something about the challenge and strategy that I loved. Additionally, the way they could bring my family together was priceless.
In today’s busy times it’s really hard to carve out time to do something healthy and create a family bond but I have the perfect opportunity for you. I’d like to invite you on a family board game day adventure to teach you why it’s a healthy tradition you may want to incorporate. I’ll teach you how to plan this super fun day, healthy food ideas for the day and what games are the most fun to play together as well as share with you facts about how healthy this family tradition can be for your soul, body and mind.
Are you up for that?
I sure hope so. Let’s get started!
How This Family Game Day Tradition Came About
It’s no secret that I love cultivating meaningful family traditions. In fact, I have dedicated an entire section of Feasting On Joy to Family Traditions. You can check that out >>HERE<<.
Our family really enjoys playing board games together and we’ll often have a family game night. However, I noticed that we tended to leave out the longer games on those game nights because there just simply wasn’t enough time to play them.
Also, it was during this busy season of our lives that I realized we rarely had a PJ day or a day that was spent solely at home without a “to-do” agenda. That’s when I decided we were going to schedule and plan a family game DAY. That way we could play the longer games, spend high-quality time together and spend the day in our pj’s if we chose to.
The first time we cleared our schedules and dedicated an entire day to spending time together playing board games and enjoying yummy, healthy food, was a smashing success. Now, it’s become something we look forward to every year!
The Health Benefits of Playing Board Games
You may not realize but there are more health benefits happening than just having fun when you’re participating in playing board games.
Of course, laughter is on the top of the list when it comes to the health perks of playing games. Laughing actually helps to increase endorphins (feel-good hormones) in your body. Plus, laughing actually helps slow the aging process. I’m all for that!
Here are some other ways that playing board games soothes the mind, body and soul and makes us healthier:
- They keep your mind engaged and active and enhance cognitive function
- When playing with your family, they create a lasting family bond which brings value and lasting support to each individual
- Playing games can increase empathy and compassion for one another (Colossian 3:12)
- Patience is developed when waiting for your turn
- Good sportsmanship can be practiced
- The hippocampus and prefrontal cortex of the brain are engaged which are responsible for our memory formation. Playing games can actually help decrease the risk of cognitive decline in the later years!
- They get us away from screens and the lack of interaction those bring
- Playing games can help us relax as well as reduce stress
- For children developing, games help increase fine motor skills, brain development and critical thinking skills
- Communication skills are improved during gameplay
- Good character, honor and honesty are developed
How to Plan Your Super Fun & Healthy Annual Board Game Day
You may have noticed I keep saying game ‘day’ and not game ‘night.’ I don’t want you to throw in the towel if you just can’t fit in an entire game day because you have kids of all ages and everyone’s schedule is crazy. It’s ok to plan a game night if that’s what fits in this season of your life. You will still experience wonderful benefits of setting aside the hours to play together.
However, if there is any chance at all that you can wipe your schedule clean for one entire day out of the year and plan to be with your family playing games together, eating good food and laughing together I strongly recommend carving out the ENTIRE day.
1 | The very first step you’ll need to take is to choose the day that works for everyone and write it on your calendar
For us, summer seems to work the best for our annual family game day. School is not in session and it easier to carve out a whole day to bond together. Your life may be different so find the best season that works for your family. Yes, it will mean that other things on your list will need to wait, but I promise it will be worthwhile to put those things aside.
2 | The second thing you’ll want to do is ask everyone what their favorite healthy foods (include some treats) are and come up with a menu plan
When planning a menu you’ll need to consider the times that your game day will be held and the meals that will need to be included. For instance, we started our game day at 10 am, that way we could sleep in! The perfect start to the day if you ask me. We decided our game day would end between 7 and 8 pm. That meant that we would need either lunch and dinner or brunch and then snacks all day. There was no way I wanted to be cooking in the kitchen all day on our game day!
3 | For the third step, you’ll need to quiz everyone about their favorite games and try and include them to play during the day
Keep in mind here that it’s really important to include long and short games. We notice that it’s fun to play a really long game but then, after that, we are more in the mood for a few shorter games. Throughout the day, we find that we are able to fit in about 2 long games and the rest shorter games.
Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that you choose games for all ages and ones that can include all family members. During our game day, we even play Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land so that we can incorporate the little guys. When we play a game for older ages, we generally have the younger ones play on a team with the older ones. It works out well!
Healthy Food Ideas for Your Super Fun Board Game Day
Usually, a game day will include lunch and dinner time and as I said above, I wasn’t willing to be in the kitchen on game day cooking while everyone else was playing games.
So what we decided would work best was having heavy finger foods that we could graze on all day and then we would order pizza at night.
Now before you say pizza isn’t healthy, it can be! Personally, since I can’t even have gluten-free grains, I keep one of my favorite grain free and dairy free pizza crusts on hand. I love to top it with freshly cut tomatoes, garlic and chopped basil and a drizzle of olive oil and some coarse sea salt. If I’m feeling sassy, I’ll dollop some dairy-free, soy free, nut free cream cheese on the top after it comes out of the oven. It is utterly amazing and literally takes me 10 minutes to put together.
Here are Our Favorite Foods and Drinks For Game Day
I enlisted the family to help make these foods ahead so we didn’t have to cook on game day. Also, the night before, I laid out the dishes I would be using to put the food in. That helped to have one less thing to do on the big day.
- Jacksons Honest Sweet Potato Chips (or Boulder Avocado Oil Potato Chips – if you can have potatoes) You could also use Siete Cassava Flour Chips which are delicious or Plantain Chips are one of my favorite stand-bys.
- A veggie plate filled with cut up organic carrots, orange and red bell peppers, and celery
- Loaded Sweet Potato Skins
- I used baked sweet potatoes that I hollowed out (save the filling for baking at a later time) and stuffed with pastured, organic bacon, green onions, guacamole and salsa. They were so tasty. I also like to drizzle a little of this ranch dressing on over them. I did make potato skins for my family which had the same thing on them but instead of ranch used raw sour cream and raw cheese.
- Stuffed Chicken Flautas
- These took a bit of make-ahead time but they were so worth it on the day of. I couldn’t believe I was eating a flauta that was healthy, grain, gluten and dairy free! We have made these time and time again since them because they are amazing. For the tortillas, I used these. I put some organic chicken breasts in the Instant Pot a couple days ahead and made my homemade mayo which takes about 5 minutes to make. For the chicken mixture, I added the chicken, mayo and seasonings. Then for half the mixture, I added raw cheese for my family. I stuffed the mixture into a tortilla and rolled it up into a flauta. I separated the dairy-free ones from the dairy ones and baked them at 400 for 15 minutes or until the tortillas had some color and crunch. Then, I topped them with salsa, guacamole and green onions.
- Snacky Protein Gummies
- Paleo Macaroons
- Chocolate Truffles
- Non-Alcoholic AIP Sangria
- Organic Iced Tea
- Filtered Water
- I also let the boys choose one organic soda each that they got to have with dinner. We like some of the flavors of these.
If you need more ideas for food, you can check out my Whole Food Pinterest Board that has over one thousand recipes on it that are either GAPS, AIP or Paleo friendly!
Our Top 20 Family Games
Here you’ll find both short and long games for all ages. Some are classics and some are newbies that are a ton of fun!
- Twisted Farkle This is a shorter game played with dice.
- LCR Known as Left Center Right. A simple game involving chips and 3 dice. It’s fast-moving and a shorter game.
- UNO Attack We love this twist on traditional UNO because you never know how many cards you’re going to get stuck with when the machine shoots them out at you. This is a shorter game.
- The King of New York Set in New York City, this longer game has many facets and lots of strategies built in. Each turn is filled with fun choices to make to try and become the King of New York.
- The Settlers of Catan This longer game has become an all-time favorite of ours. The strategy is like no other and the ownership you have of building settlements, cities and roads to settle an area of the board is really fulfilling. It’s a great group game and easy to allow the youngers to play on a team and have a role to take during each turn.
- Catan Histories: Settlers of America Trails to Rails There are many versions of Catan and we love this one. It can be even longer than Catan but, as a homeschooling mom, I love the history lesson that is built into this game. Moving across America to settle it from the east to the west is rewarding. Even the youngers can take part in this game by giving them particular assignments for each turn.
- Tenzi We love this game when we need a break from the slower, thoughtful games that are full of strategy. This dice game is ultra-fast-paced and can even get downright loud. It’s a great change and energy booster in the middle of your game day.
- Rummy Tiles A classic game that I played at the holidays with my family while sitting around grazing on holiday yummies. I have such fond memories of this game. While this game is really only for four people, you can play on teams to incorporate more people. This is more of a quiet and methodical game and takes some good brain power.
- Mexican Train Dominos This game takes a medium amount of time. It can take longer with more people though. It’s highly interactive and even the younger ones who can match dots on tiles can play this game. They also enjoy making the train sounds when they win!
- Candy Land I know there is really no explanation needed for this game. We still enjoy playing this with our younger one!
- Chutes and Ladders My younger one loves this game and I play it because he loves it but I have to say it is SO frustrating when you get the long ladder that puts you back to the beginning. My son loves it when I get that though!
- Whoonu We love this game because it really tests how well you know the other family members. This is a shorter game and can be longer if you choose to do more rounds. It’s very simple in play but brings a lot of laughs.
- Sorry Again, this game needs no introduction since it’s such a classic. Although there is some strategy in this game, we find that it’s often just the draw of the cards that seals your fate. This is a medium length game that can be a nice break from a longer game.
- Act Your Wage This is a more recent addition to our game collection and it really is a ton of fun. Again, as a homeschooling mom, I love the principles the game teaches about stewardship of our money. Surprisingly, our youngest one really loved this game and kept asking to play it over and over. This game really helps to apply real-life principles in a way that makes them fun but really stick in your head about how powerful managing money properly can be. This game would fit in the longer game category but is very action oriented and time passes and turns pass quickly.
- Yikerz This is a really short game that doesn’t require much brain power. After playing a longer game, we love that! It gives an adrenaline rush though and is fun to see who can win.
- Q-Bitz Up to four people can play this game of visual prowess. This game can be short or long depending on how many cards you want to work through. We really enjoy seeing the patterns that placing the dice differently can make.
- I Spy Eagle Eye The younger ones love this shorter game and, honestly, we love it too. It’s challenging trying to find your object on the bigger picture card and amazing how easy it’s missed sometimes. Just be sure your kiddo hasn’t memorized the card like ours! Otherwise, you don’t stand a chance.
- Mega Monopoly A different take on Monopoly because everything is supersized. Yes, that can mean it takes even longer to play. Be sure you’re ready for the long haul on this one.
- Star Wars Monopoly We really like this version of Monopoly because it’s shorter than a regular game of Monopoly but similar principles are applied from the original game. It’s also fun because of the Star Wars theme and being able to pick the good guys or the bad guys.
- Head Bandz If you want to laugh, play this shorter game. Not only is it silly looking wearing these headbandz but it is so funny to hear the items that other people guess when you know the entire time what their object is because you can see it. This game helps a lot with communication skills.
*If my boys were to add a game to this list, they would add Risk. I literally cannot stand that game though so if I am a part of the family day, we don’t play it. Do you like it?
When are You Going to Schedule Your Next Super Fun & Healthy Annual Family Board Game Day?
It’s really just a matter of getting the game day on the calendar and you’ll be that much closer to it actually happening. I know once you experience your first game day as a family, it will become an annual family tradition like it did with us.
Now that you know how to plan your game day, healthy foods to prepare and what games make good family game day choices, you are well on your way to a day you’ll never forget.
I’d love to hear from you if you do your own game day and please add any fun games that you love that I haven’t included in my list. I always enjoy learning about new games that are fantastic!