"Fun" for the whole family

One of my favorite quotes from Jerry Seinfeld is:

"There is no such thing as fun for the whole family."

If you've ever been to a kiddie theme park, a "family fun" center, or any of its ilk, you know this to be true. Sure, there may be moments that everyone is having a decently fun time, but it is rarely at the same time as  the whole family. 

Did you ever realize how hard family vacations were for your parents before becoming a parent? Did your dad's stress level at Pizza Pete's Pizza Palace make you wonder why he couldn't relax at such a fun venue? And then you go to Pizza Pete's as a parent and want to pull one hair out of your head for every second that you had to endure the place? No? Just me?

We are smack-dab in the middle of our family reunion season. It's always a conundrum to figure out ways to keep everyone entertained, from the great grandmas to the little babies (well, the mothers holding the new babies). The older generations want to sit around and chat, looking at old family albums and reminiscing about people they knew "back in the day" while the younger generations' eyes slowly glaze over. 

So you head to Pinterest for fun ideas for "the whole family" and now you're even more stressed and overwhelmed with all of the possibilities and items needed. I feel your pain.

Here. Right here is a list for you. For your family. For your reunion. For your large parties. Here it is!

1. Lip Sync Battles

Oh geez. I know. But I am telling you, even the biggest dud in the family will get in the spirit of this activity. People that are timid at first always seem to be the funniest lip sync-ers. I have been part of battles that were planned and those that were spontaneous, and both were equally enjoyable. The choreography of the planned battles sometimes bordered on professional while the last-second battles had some of the most hilariously random music choices. Either way, you need music (speaker system, especially) and a prop to serve as a microphone. That's kinda it. Maybe something to record the hilarity for future reunions.

2. Game Rounds

I've converted many self-professed "non game players" into large group game players. And while I love a good board game as much as the next person, the games listed here are basic and only a few are not played with everyday playing cards. The whole idea of game rounds is to get people moving and playing with more than one group or age. You can choose to write out the games on a large card to keep at each station that explains the rules OR put one person in charge of each station to keep the flow steady. If someone wins one to three rounds of a game, they have to move onto the next station. This usually gives those that have been "losing" a bit of an advantage, knowing the rules and getting the hang of it over a few rounds.

A. Egyptian Ratscrew
Oh, how I love this game. It takes some practice and those that seldom win call it "luck" but once you master the DOUBLES slap, you will dominate this game. There is a link in the title to playing the game, but my basic explanation is this:
FACE CARDS have value. Ace=4, King=3, Queen=2, Jack=1
Any doubles can be slapped. Ace plus Ace, three plus three, ANY double
All of the cards in a (52-card) deck are dealt out evenly among players (add extra decks for larger groups--one deck is usually good for up to five players)
Players do not look at their cards, hold them face down in a pile in hands. Person to the left of the dealer flips over their top card into central pile area in the middle of all the players. (ALL PLAYERS must flip cards away from themselves to show the card to other players before self.) Play continues clockwise.
Once face card is flipped, the next person has to play a face card. They have as many chances as the face card valued (Ace=4, King=3, Queen=2, Jack=1). The last person to play a successful face card gets the entire pile of cards. When taken, piles are always added to player's deck underneath, face-down. The winner of the pile begins the next round of play.
IF a double is played at any time, the FIRST PERSON to slap the top card gets the entire pile. They then begin the next round.
Those who run out of cards can slap it at any time to get a pile and return to play.
Winner gets all of the cards! 

We actually call this game "BS" which is short for Bologna Sandwiches, Beef Stew, Big Stinker, Bean Soup, you know. Because we play with kids. ;) This game can also have multiple decks added to play. For a full explanation, see link above.

This game also has a lot of names. We call it a mix of President and Scum. Loser is always Scum, even thought we love them. Full explanation in link.

D. Bananagrams
Obviously this game requires you buying the actual game, but for less than $15, you will get your money's worth. It doesn't require a ton of explaining, and it is always very telling to see what words people come up with. I have been embarrassed many times with the low-brow words that come to my mind. Link to Amazon above. 

E. Mexican Train
This might not be as easy to transition in and out of, but I have never met a group that didn't enjoy playing Mexican Train. You can find it for $14 and spend up to $75 for what I hope is partly gold. There are also a lot of different versions, so just pick one and stick to it for the evening. Dominoes for every generation. Link to amazon above.

3. Group Riddles

Everyone sits in a circle for group riddles. Or a circle-ish. This plays more like a game than a riddle, but they are also much more fun. WARNING: SPOILERS!! 

A. My Aunt Emma
The person who begins this riddle stands, dances and animatedly recites:

My Aunt Emma
She died last night
That's the way you say it
That's the way you play it
And now I'm a member. (bows)

The trick is in one particular prompt. Some of these riddles include something like clearing the throat at the beginning or crossing the arms at the end. That is all that is necessary to become a member. The person can botch the entire riddle and dance, but as long as they do the main prompt, they become a member.

B. Running With Scissors
Person in the middle of the circle says, "I am running with a pair of scissors. I drop them. Are they open or closed?" as they point to one person who must answer. If they guess correctly, they wait a few turns to make sure they understand the riddle and then they play the person in the middle. (OPEN=legs uncrossed, CLOSED=legs crossed)

C. Bang Bang Bang
Person shoots multiple people in the circle (figuratively, of course) "Bang, bang, bang, bang" and then says, "Who did I kill?" People guess and then try shooting if they think they've solved the riddle (First person to say anything after shooter asks "Who did I kill?" is the one who is dead.)

D. Polar Bears Around an Ice Hole
I swore I would never reveal the way to this riddle. See HERE for a refresher or to figure it out. Use six die, once someone figures out the riddle, the tester gives three more tests and if successful shouts, "Are there any Polar Bears here?" and all those who have taken the oath roar. Then the oath must be taken. Goes a little like this: "I, state your name, promise to never reveal the secret to Polar Bears Around an Ice Hole or may polar bears come to visit me in my sleep and gauge out my eyeballs."

E. In My World
Someone begins by saying, "In my world there are XXXXX but no XXXXX" and others add on to it.
For example, "In my world there are bunnies but no mice." (+) "In my world there is root beer but no lemonade." (+) "In my world there are bees but no flies." (+) "In my world there is water but no ice." (X this one does not pass). Do you get it? Your world can include anything with double letters. 

F. Big Blue Moon
The riddler says, "Um, ok, Big Blue Moon (noun 1) (noun 2) (noun 3)." Any noun works. The guesser must try to repeat the statement correctly. The biggest key is that they must say "Um, ok" at the beginning.

4. Taste Testing

This activity can be done blindfolded, with score cards, or just one at a time for fun. Keep a garbage bag handy just in case, but these should be foods people actually eat. They may surprise you.


  1. Chocolate pudding with Flaming Hot Cheetos (like spicy chocolate, maybe)
  2. Sliced pickles with peanut butter
  3. Grapes dipped in ranch dressing
  4. Cheek-Its and Nutella
  5. Banana and mayonnaise sandwiches
  6. Koolickles (pickles soaked in Kool-Aid)
  7. Anything listed on this amazing page of foods to make WITH FLAMING HOT CHEETOS

5. Kickball

Who doesn't like kickball? Everyone I know either loves playing, loves cheering, or loves watching a good game of family kickball. Maybe this is one family reunion that will actually be fun for the whole family!