One of my favorite memories growing up was when our small country church would have a Saturday night social. The church rented a large room in town for these occasions, and everyone came, families, singles and grandparents. We had so much fun together and bonded as a church family. There was usually a potluck, but sometimes a planned dinner on a theme. And then there would be group games organized by some amazing people with great ideas in our church.
Recently a family that just moved into the area started inviting one to two other families to their home most Saturday evenings. They start with worship, and then enjoy supper together, followed by some group games. Everyone, young and old, participates, and everyone has a real nice time together. I was so inspired by their friendship and hospitality.
It seems that this kind of wholesome social activity is so good for families. It provides friendship and recreation for every age in the family, the children and the moms and dads.
It seems like now days these kind of social actives don’t happen much any more. Maybe because everyone is so busy, or it isn’t as much fun in a large church, or maybe kids who play computer games all the time don’t like to play real life games with real people? I don’t know the real answer, but I think that the best thing we could do about it was just to simply plan some social nights for our kids and a few other families. Be sure to invite grandparents and singles too, as they also like to socialize and are sometimes overlooked.
I know that homeschool mothers are busy and don’t have much extra time, so keep the organization responsibilities simple.
1. Location. Do it in your own family room if possible, or ask to use the fellowship room at the church or school.
2. Food. A potluck is always the easiest. Or choose a theme, and divide up the responsibilities between those who are coming.
3. Games. You can play board games, some work for even a couple families playing at a time. But I think it is more fun if you play group games where everyone is included, from young to old.
If your group is limited to 2 – 4 families, you can play group games all together, and do it in your own house. If your group is larger then that, you will need a larger facility. With a large group you may wish to divide up into teams and have multiple group games happening at once that the teams would play for a certain amount of time, and then rotate to the next game.
Here are some game suggestions I found on the Internet which would be fun with a wide range of ages.
Would You Rather. The more creative you are, the more fun this game can be. For this game, the players move to one side of the room or another depending on what they prefer given two options. For example, the first set of options might be wearing shoes or going barefoot. The person who is “it” would announce, “Would you rather wear shoes or go barefoot?” If your answer is you prefer to wear shoes, you would go to the left, but if you would rather be barefoot, you would go to the right. Keep track of the answers to see who has the most in common with each other.
Never Have I Ever. This game is a favorite of many people, but it must be played with at least a dozen people, preferably more. The concept is similar to musical chairs in that there is one less chair than there are people. Arrange the chairs in a circle looking inward. One person stands in the middle and announces one thing that they have never done. For instance, the person in the middle might announce, “Never have I ever ridden in a hot air balloon.” Anyone who has ridden in a hot air balloon would then get up, leaving their chair unoccupied, and find a new chair. The person in the middle would also find a chair. Whoever is left without a chair is the new person in the middle and will take a turn announcing what they have never done.
The Name Game. Give each player several strips of paper and a pen. Each player writes one name on each strip of paper. The names can be absolutely anyone—famous, non-famous, infamous, dead, alive, real, fictional, people you know, people you used to know, whatever. Once each strip of paper has a name, it should be folded and deposited into a large bowl, combined with all the others and stirred. Divide the group into two teams. One player from the first team takes the bowl full of names. Set a timer or stopwatch for one minute. The player holding the bowl takes out one slip of paper at a time and tries to get his team to guess the name, giving any clues he can without stating the name. Once the name has been guessed, the player can remove another name and begin giving clues until the time is up. If a name is still in mid-play when the timer goes off, the player should fold it up and place it back in the bowl. Count the number of correctly guessed names to keep score, and pass the bowl to the second team and repeat. The game ends when all the names have been guessed. The team with the most correct names wins.
The Dictionary Game. Each player is equipped with a piece of paper and something to write with. One player quickly searches the dictionary for a word that is most likely unfamiliar to the group. The player reads the chosen word to the rest of the group, spelling it if necessary, and each player writes it on his paper. Each player then writes a definition for the word, while the player with the dictionary writes out the correct definition. Players then pass their papers to the first player, who shuffles them and then reads the definitions one by one to the group, including the real definition. Players then vote on which definition they think is the correct one, and the first player scores the definitions (one point for each vote), then reveals the real definition. The dictionary is then passed to another player, the papers are dispersed, and the next round begins. The player with the most points for his definitions wins.
Laugh-in. A perfect icebreaker to bring a bit of joy in everyone, this game begins by gathering the players into a standing circle. Tell everyone to remain as solemn and joyless as possible throughout the game. Pick one player to start by sounding the word, “Ha.” The person to her left has to say the words “Ha Ha.” This pattern continues with every new player adding another “Ha” as the game continues. Though the game prohibits laughter and signs of joy, players likely will find it hard to contain their giggles. Disqualify any players who end up laughing. The game ends when only one person remains in the circle.
SNOWBALL RACE. Things Needed to Play: Large marshmallows, spoons and mittens for each team.
How to Play: Play this game as you would any relay race. Divide into teams. Each player takes turns putting on mittens and balancing a “snowball” on a spoon while racing to the other side of the room. Drop the snowball into a bucket, return to the team, pass the mittens and go to the back of the line. First team to complete the race wins
Things. If you have ever played The Game of Things, you’ll be able to play this version of the game. Instead of paying full price for the actual board game, just make up the questions yourself. If you have never played The Game of Things, get ready for some side-splitting laughs. One person is “it” and will say a statement that will have a thing as the answer, such as “Things you shouldn’t do while at work.” Everyone then writes on a piece of paper something that shouldn’t be done at work, such as sleep. The person who is “it” then collects all the answers and reads them out loud. Then, go around the room letting people guess a match up of a person and an answer. If they are correct, that person gets a point, and the person whose answer was guessed is out. Continue going around the room until one person is left. That person gets three points.