Toys & Games

9 Family Games for Every Occasion

We’ve been busy the past few months with a dude ranch vacation, camping, a couple of road trips, and visits to lots of local parks and playgrounds, but we still made time for playing games together. Now that school is back in session and the weather is getting cooler and wetter, we’ve been spending more time indoors and our games cupboard is getting even more attention.

From travel games to hilarious party games to games the whole family can play on a rainy day, here are some of the games we’ve been enjoying. Let me know which games your family loves to play too!

Travel Games

What makes a good travel game? It should be portable, playable without a big table, and preferably without a lot of small pieces to lose. Like I said, we did a fair amount of travelling this summer, and here are some of the games we took along with us.

Uno and Dos

Classic card game Uno is a great game to take on the road and make car rides more fun! Take turns matching one of your cards with the color or number card shown on the top of the deck. Score points by being first to get rid of all the cards in your hand, but don’t forget to shout “Uno!” when you’re down to one card. The first player or team to 500 points wins. For 2-10 players, ages 7 and up.

And then there’s Dos, a new variation on Uno. Just like the original, the goal is to get rid of your cards before the other players do. But in this version, shout out, “Dos!” when you’re down to two cards in your hand. The first player to 200 points wins. For 2-4 players, ages 7 and up.

Spot It!

Spot It! is one of our new favourites because it’s so portable and easy to play on the go, whether in the backseat of the car or waiting for our dinner reservations. Between any two circular cards, there is always one and only one matching symbol. Spot it fast to win!

The accordion-style instructions booklet contains five different ways to play. The strategy is the same: be the first player to spot the one and only symbol on your card that matches a symbol on another card. Matching symbols are the same colour and shape, but they may be different sizes making this game more challenging than you might think.

Because Spot It! relies on observation skills and quick reflexes, younger players can compete against older players. We brought Spot It! camping with us, and it was a great choice to occupy the kids in the car and the whole family amused once we arrived at our campsite. The small tin is the perfect size to keep in the car or in the bottom of your purse for those times when you need something to keep the kids busy.

Includes 55 cards and rules sheet in a durable travel-size tin. For 2-8 players, ages six and up.

Party Games

Who doesn’t love a good party game? We love having lots of games to choose from to suit every group, whether it’s Friday family game nights, or having friends over for a pot luck. Some are better for mixed ages, others are more suitable for older players. Either way, these games are reasonably easy to learn, quick to play, and fun!


Braintopia is a simple but challenging game that tests your skills of observation, quick thinking, memory, and coordination.

This small box (5.5″ square) holds 90 cards containing eight different kinds of quick challenges: maze, colour, coordination, duplicates, frequency, reasoning, and touch challenge. When the card is turned over, you’ll only have seconds to be first to solve the puzzle and collect the card. A pair of challenge cards (or one correctly identified touch card) earns you a piece of brain. The first player to four cardboard brain pieces wins.

The cards don’t require a lot of pre-existing knowledge to solve, so kids can play agaist each other or with adults. Each fast-paced game takes about 15 minutes to finish, so it’s easy to find the time to play!

Includes 90 cards (74 test cards, 6 touch challenge cards, and 10 embossed touch cards), 24 brain pieces, and rules booklet in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Dutch. For 2-6 players, ages 8 and up.

Mad Gab

In Mad Gab, it’s not what you say, it’s what you hear! Players work together to decipher groups of unrelated words into real phrases before time runs out. For example, repeat the words DEW WINO HUE out loud over and over until the answer emerges: “Do I know you?”

Since Mad Gab requires a basic familiarity with common English phrases, it’s best played by teens and adults. This is a fun one to play around the campfire!

Includes 200 cards, 800 Mad Gab puzzles, 1 card gripper, 1 card box, 1 timer, 1 score pad, and rules sheet. For 2 or more players, ages 12 and up.

Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples is the classic party game of crazy combinations. The judge plays a Green Apple descriptor card, and the other players choose the Red Apple card (person, place, thing, or event) from their hand that they think best fits the Green Apple card.

“Ill-conceived — Texting your ex”
“Hellish — Colonoscopy”
“Volatile — Reality TV stars”

Convince the judge to choose your card as the best or funniest match-up and win the Green Apple card. Collect four Green Apples to win the game!

To be honest, this one doesn’t interest my 7 and 9-year-old kids too much, but it’s a lot of fun with four or more adults! Includes 504 cards (441 Red Apple cards and 63 Green Apple cards), card tray, and rules booklet in English and French. For 4-8 players, ages 12 and up.

Rainy Day Games

Now that fall is here, we’ve been getting a lot more rainy days. (They don’t call it the Wet Coast for nothing!) When the kids don’t want to go outside and play, here are some of the games they’ve been playing instead.

Ticket to Ride: First Journey

Ticket to Ride: First Journey is a shorter, simplified version of the original Ticket to Ride game, suitable for younger children. The game board shows a map of North America featuring 19 major cities including Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Miami, New York, and Washington. This board also includes the Canadian cities of Calgary, Winnipeg, and Montreal, although there’s no Vancouver as my kids were disappointed to discover.

The game play is straight forward and easy to learn, but still requires some strategy. Players starts with four coloured train cards and two tickets, each showing a route between two cities. Collect train cards, claim routes on the map, and try to connect the cities shown on your tickets. The first player to complete six tickets claims the winner’s Golden Ticket!

Seven-year-old Kay needed some coaching at the beginning, but by the end of our first game she had everything down pat and ended up winning the game. The average game takes about 30 minutes to finish, making this a nice length for family game night.

Includes game board, 80 plastic trains, 72 Train cards, 32 Ticket cards, 4 “Coast-to-Coast” bonus ticket cards, 1 “Golden Ticket” card, and rules sheet. For 2-4 players, ages 6 and up.

One Key

In One Key, players work together cooperatively to identify the secret image (one key) from a group of 11 images, using their powers of deduction and clues from the team leader. Game play relies on idea association, deduction, reasoning, and teamwork. Since there is a fair bit of interpretation and subjectivity involved in giving and guessing the clues, there’s also a significant element of communication and creative thinking in the game too.

The set up is a bit complicated and there are lots of steps in each turn necessitating easy access to the rules booklet for the first little while. It took us a couple of rounds to “get” how to play, but once past the learning phase we all enjoyed the game. Two things really stood out to me – the beautifully illustrated game cards with whimsical, dream-like imagery, and the cooperative game play. Everybody wins or loses together, so there are no sore losers.

One Key is technically playable with two players, but better with more. We found game play went smoother with an adult team leader, but your mileage may vary. You can download the One Key app to enhance the game with a 3-minute timer, background “thinking” music, and turn tracker, but it’s certainly not necessary.

Includes 84 shaped illustrated cards, 3 clue area tiles, 9 clue tokens, 1 bonus token, 1 screen and plastic base, turn tracker, turn token, and rules booklets in English and French. For 2-6 players, ages 8 and up.


Our final choice isn’t technically a game, but it’s definitely something the kids have been getting a lot of use out of when they can’t go outside to play. Flexo is a building system that pairs rigid construction bricks with flexible, plastic “tendons” that allow kids to flex their imaginations with unique designs that bend, flex, and curve like nothing else.

The magic lies in the clear, soft silicone “tendons” that can be inserted into multiple junction spots on the bricks using the helpful multitool (included). When you snap another brick on top, it locks the tendon down securely. My kids want you to know they make great bracelets sand necklaces, as well as curved roads and animal friends with bendy legs.

Flexo blocks are compatible with all our LEGO sets so we can easily build bigger projects or add other pieces for more flexibility without having to invest in a whole new separate building system. Flexo encourages fine motor skills, cognitive reasoning and logic, problem solving, spatial awareness, and imagination. Most of all, they’re just a ton of fun!

Available in Foil Packs, Ocean Life Theme sets, Builder Set and Inventor Sets. Ages 6 and up.

Which games does your family enjoy playing?

Disclosure: I received sample items to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ. This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, at no additional cost to you.

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