It doesn't happen very often: an evening when the entire family is free of obligations and no one has to get up early for school or work the next morning. When a situation like that occurs you have to take advantage of it because it's the perfect opportunity for a family fun night.
For this particular family fun night you are putting away the cell phones, the PDA's, and the hand held video game systems. You are also turning off the computer, the video game consoles, and dare we say, hiding the Wii remotes. GASP!
You are also staying home for this kinfolk romp--you can go out anytime. Furthermore, you are going to try to keep the cost of this family fun night extremely low and the planning to a minimum. Although, we do admit a few of these activities could be enhanced with a few bucks and a couple minutes of planning.
Below are 10 ideas for your family to try during their fun night together. Remember that the key to this type of occasion is having great time, not stubbornly adhering to some plan. After all, it's called "family fun night" not because of what you're doing but who you're doing it with.
* Dinner - If you choose the right dish, dinner can definitely be a fun family activity. For instance, even young kids can put toppings on a pizza. To make it really fun, divide the pizza up when it's still dough and let everyone top their own slices. The same can be done for cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. Grocery stores stock easy, ready-to-bake dough for all the aforementioned treats.
* Hollywood - We're not talking about the latest and greatest Hollywood animated flick, we talking about the classics. Show them a movie so old it was made before you were even born. If you can convince your kids that watching a black and white flick won't damage their eye sight, go even further back in the annuals of Hollywood (Chaplin anyone?). Show them what moviemaking was like before computers.
* Movie Night - Take a stroll down memory lane by breaking out the family videos, films, and photographs--the older the images the better (the funnier). If you can plan ahead, procure some fascinating (funny) images from the grandparents. The evening should end with your wedding video. Kids eat that stuff up, but please don't show them the part where I dance with Aunt Martha.
* No Bored Games - Don't just play a board game, take one and make it your own. Try adding goofy rules or playing the game as fast as possible. Have you ever played Speed Monopoly or Speed Clue? Combine two board games into one or add playing cards to a game that doesn't normally use them. If you're feeling really adventurous, create your own board game. I once created "Hemorrhagic Fever: The Game" but it didn't go over very well.
* Music Sharing - This idea is particular poignant if you have a turntable. Nonetheless, spend the evening not just listening to music but listening to everyone's music. Give everyone in the family a chance to play their favorite songs. This not only exposes your children to some of the music you used to rock out too but it also gives you insight into what kind of music your children are listening too. Of course this might be a problem if your favorite genre of music is gangsta rap.
* American Idol - If your family likes to sing and dance (and what family doesn't) hold your very own American Idol-type competition. Those with a voice like sandpaper can play the parts of Simon and Randy or you can all take turns judging. If you don't have a karaoke machine, just sing along with the song or perform a cappella. Also, don't forget to dress up. American Idols have to look the part too.
* Star Gazing - If you live out in the sticks (away from cities and their light pollution) and the sky is clear, nothing beats lying on the grass and staring up at the stars. This is not only a fun activity but it's also educational. Do a little research prior to the evening so you can dazzle your kids with your knowledge of the constellations and the night's sky.
* Construction - Spend the night building something. Chances are good your kids have Legos or Lincoln Logs in their rooms. If your house happens to be Lego-less you can always buy some (you can get a lot of Legos with the money you would have spent on going out to the movies). Or just scour your recycling bin for empty boxes, cardboard tubes, and other things that can be stacked and fastened together.
* Charades - This is a solid activity and one that can be tailored for children of any age. To add a new spin on the classic game try adding a theme--Disney, sports, family members, 19th century German operas. Mix the game up by allowing the use of just one arm, blindfolding the actor, or having two people act out the same charade instead of one. Whatever you do, make sure you try speed charades.
* Play - Perhaps not appropriate for tweens or teens (although it would still be incredibly fun) but the family can always spend the night just playing. You can play cops and robbers, spacemen and aliens, or even pirates. If you're looking for a game try one of the classics like tag or hide-and-seek. It doesn't really matter what you play as long as you're using your imagination, laughing, and having loads of fun.