Weekly Adventures: Six of Our Best Family Nights

Recently, Treasure the Ordinary featured a post on Family Nights.  That article has sparked a great deal of feedback, with many readers retelling how they, too, have had to go back to "boot camp" as a family and pick up old, yet important habits they had inadvertently laid down.  I'm encouraged that it's never too late to start over, and that this week's family night could be your best yet!  

To that end, here is a list of some of the most enjoyable of our recent von Atzigen Family Night Adventures.  In the past, I've noticed that ideas I've found online for this kind of thing seem to be centered around families with young children.  So, while a lot of these ideas could be adjusted to accommodate little ones (especially if you partner them with older kids or parents), my list here is centered around families with older children and teens.  I hope they will spark your own idea for an evening in, or an evening out, as long as it's with the ones you love most.

  • "Chopped, Family Edition"- This was one of our most fun family nights ever!  A full scale replica of the TV show, complete with older brother filming the action in order to put together a highlight reel.  To play, I tasked the three youngest to compete in the dessert category.  They had 30 minutes to concoct their best creation using 3 out of 4 ingredients (pre-stocked in the family picnic basket!) and a maximum of 3 other ingredients out of the family pantry.  Parents did the judging, and overlooking a couple of nasty bites (think frozen hot tamale candies coming at your taste buds out of no where!), it was mostly delicious.  My teenagers all loved it, since it brought out all of their competitiveness, and it's even since sparked some interest in the kitchen that wasn't there before.
  • "Wiki Night" - Get out all the smart phones!  Before you play, someone needs to stock the draw pile with random topics (the Wright brothers, cheddar cheese, Argentina, etc.).  To play, someone draws a topic from the pile, and everyone opens their wiki app to that page.  Someone then draws the second topic out of the draw pile, and the race is on to see who can get to that page first.  You can't use the back arrow, and you can't exit wiki, but other than that, it doesn't matter how you get there.  First person to the designated page wins!  (Note:  You can have as many people play per round as you have smart phones, but if you only have access to one or two, you could play tournament style, timing each person for their "score.")
  • "Book Store Scavenger Hunt" - This one was great for a night when the parents were tired, but didn't want to miss out on family time.  The two of us sat in the bookstore cafe, reading a good book and drinking a coffee while the kids roamed the store taking photos of the items on their scavenger hunt list (a book with exactly 394 pages seemed to be the hardest one to find!) and sending them back to mom or dad's phone so we could monitor their progress.  We would occasionally send them all extra challenges that they could complete alongside their list for bonus points, my favorite of which was "take a picture of one of your siblings without them knowing."  The rule was you could not run and no one in the store could even be able to guess you were there on a scavenger hunt, so everyone had to play it cool and keep from being an annoyance to other customers.  The winner can even get to choose which new book you go home with!
  • "Blessing Night" - We did this one around Christmas time.  Instead of spending money on our own family night, we took a family trip to Wal-Mart and bought everything that would be needed for another family to have a great family night.  Every one of my kids picked out their favorite candy, we spent a great deal of time choosing just the right puzzle and just the right board game, and then we added a family movie, hot chocolate, popcorn, and even a blanket.  I was proud of my kids when we loaded it all in the car to be dropped off for a project at our church and went home to eat the snacks that were in our own pantry.  I know we could have gone out after we did our shopping, but I felt like it was important to have one night completely devoted to serving others, and I wasn't disappointed.  I liked the fruit I saw in my kids.
  • "Movie Night" - This time, it was to see "Hidden Figures," which I highlight because it was an excellent film and one that provoked deep discussion with our teenagers.
  • "Photo Shoot Night" - Find some zany props, get into some crazy costumes, and head to an interesting location.  For extra fun, you can hire a photographer, but if you need it to be free, just bring a tripod and a creative streak.  I don't have a single child that doesn't like to have pictures taken, so we may be abnormally fond of the camera, but every time we do this, we end up with crazy fun memories.  This year, our photo shoot night ended up being our Christmas card, Viking helmets and all! 

Whether it's planned or spontaneous,  may your family time be sweet this week, friends.  And may it make you long for more.