From doctor's visits to long car rides, or for a last-minute family game night, there are so many situations where you've got to think on your feet to occupy your energized kids. Coming up with family games you can play and everyone will enjoy without anything prepared on the fly isn't easy. But if you're coming up short, don't worry. We've got you covered with awesome equipment-free games the whole family will love.
Equipment-Free Games the Whole Family Can Enjoy
When you want to unplug for family game night but your regular board games just aren't hitting like they normally do, you've got other options. Use your imagination, get inspired by the world around you, and take a crack at one of these family games you can play at home with no equipment at all. Whether you stay indoors or go outside and play on the back porch, you have plenty of options for at-home fun.
Ninja (the Game)
Try a popular middle school game that can be fun for people of all ages. Called Ninja, the point of this game is to be the last person standing. To play, have everyone stand in a circle arm's widths apart from each other. Then, players jump into a pose. The first player has one move to try and strike the player on either side's hand. Everyone takes turns and continues around the circle until players fall over or both of their hands have been knocked out.
The real challenge? When you make your moves to either strike or dodge, you have to keep the pose you land in.
Hold a Family Dance Competition
Moving your body is a great way to increase your mood and stretch out your limbs. Instead of lounging around watching a movie, have the family jump in on your dance party. The music can come from anywhere: a family member that plays, your favorite playlist, or a vintage record.
Make it into a dance competition by challenging each other to different dance steps, see who can do a specific dance the longest, or use an app like Toca Boca and see if everyone can follow the moves.
If everyone has a different device they can play music on, have them put on headphones and queue up their own songs. Now, you've turned your dance party into a silent disco.
Play Word Association
This is a thinking game that can last for hours. Word Association has a simple premise. All you need to do is the start the game with a random word. Each player follows up with a new word that comes to their mind when they hear the first. This can go in an endless chain like "Sony, Walkman, Music, MTV…" See how long you can keep the chain going.
Play an Improv Game
Older kids and families will get a kick out of improv games. Rooted in acting and comedy, they get everyone moving and laughing. Try easy improv games like Alphabet, where players need to use their bodies to form letters; Lines From a Hat where players write down phrases, draw them from a hat, and must act them out; or Yes, Let's... where players have to suggest actions or scenarios and everyone must act them out. You can also try a simple improve generator to get ideas.
You can also transform your family afternoon into a scene from Little Women by having everyone stage a short one-act play. You can all come up with a concept and script together. Then you can work on blocking the play and performing it for a stuffed animal audience.
Slide Down the Alphabet with Alphabet Categories
Alphabet categories is a simple game that stretches your mind to its limits. The game plays like a basic categories game, but with this one you pitch a category and have to answer something that falls into that category with every letter of the alphabet. So, someone starts with an 'A' answer, then a 'B' to the next player, and so on.
Play Name That Business
Name That Business is a hilarious word-play game where competitors go head-to-head to come up with the better idea for their fictional business. One player pitches out a weird business combo, like dentist office nail salon or bouncy castle and renters' insurance office. Every player has to come up with a witty name for the fake business, and the best name wins a point.
Play One-Room Hide and Seek
Hide and seek is a childhood staple that never goes out of style. Up the ante on your next round of hide and seek by challenging everyone to hide in a single room. And to even the playing field with the person who's 'finding,' make them wear a blindfold. Everyone will be desperately trying to stifle their laughter once they start playing a few rounds of it.
Play Six Degrees of (You Decide)
Pop culture fanatics are familiar with the age old game 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.' Take the spirit of the game and insert any person you can think of. Go intellectual with notable artists and thinkers or totally modern with TikTok influencers.
Play Finish the Lyric
If you've got a pretty musical family, you can play a bout of Finish the Lyric. This can be a great family game to play with older kids. Each person comes up with a song and sings the first few bars. When they drop off, it's on the other players to finish the lyrics. Whoever does it right, first, wins a point, and whoever has the most points at the end wins the game.
Go Wild With Charades
Charades is a classic that everyone in the family can participate in. You can just use your own imagination, but you can also try our free charades lists and printables to make it even better.
Trip Everyone Up with a Classic Game of Telephone
Telephone doesn't only work for kids, it can absolutely slam adults, too. As a reminder, Telephone is the game where one person starts with a phrase, whispers it a single time in the next person's ear. This continues through to the last person in the line where they tell everyone the phrase they've been told. The goal is to end the game with the same phrase you started, though it hardly ever ends up happening.
Play Hilarious Question or Trivia Games
Question games are fantastic because they're simple, prep-free, and fun for the whole family. Try a rousing game of ultimate family trivia or Family Feud to see how much everyone knows. Get everyone laughing with Would You Rather Questions, This or That questions for kids, or even How Well Do You Know Me? Family Edition.
You Don't Need Anything to Have a Good Time
Our consumer-driven age will market any and every product to you, making it sound like you can't possibly have fun without buying the latest game. But there are really dozens of family games you can play with nothing. Don't fall prey to their schemes, and instead use your imagination to come up with equipment-free games to play with your whole family. Who knows? Maybe you'll create a new family tradition.