Growing up we were big on family night. You know, simply one night a week where all the “extras” were put on hold. The extra chores, the extra activities, the extra errands. Since my Mom worked full time and had four kids to raise in her own, some weeks this was quite the task.
However, every week, sometimes on Sunday, sometimes on Monday night or sometimes on a Saturday morning, we made family “night” happen. Due to our schedules and budget, our family nights consisted of a variety of things, sometimes it was watching the latest movie on VHS or a visit to the local zoo. Other times we volunteered in our community or went to the park. But our absolute favorite was playing board games. It was an easy and affordable family activity we would all enjoy (despite the constant fights over who got to be banker every time we played Hasbro® Monopoly!).
Since I firmly believe in the power of family night, I have continued this weekly tradition to this day, even though right now it is just the two of us. This may simply mean an evening walk or might mean inviting our friends and extended family over for some fun and a few laughs as we sit around and play games into the wee hours of the night!
I know I am not alone in my love for board games, and today I thought I would share a few tips for having a successful game night at home. Check out my tips below, plus a favorite game night cookie recipe!
1. Make it a Tradition- Since my Mom started family game night with us when we were young, it quickly became a regular tradition! Today, we strive to have game night 2-3 times a month. This might mean just the two of us playing a favorite game together or inviting over several friends or extended family members to play an exciting group game. Selecting a specific night of the week/month (every Monday or every third Friday) will help make this a regular tradition in your home.
2. Select the Games- It is always a good idea to have a variety of games on hand. While building a collection of board games can be expensive, look for sales and coupons to get games at a discounted price. Also ask game night guests to bring their favorite games to the party to help add variety. When planning your game night, select games that are appropriate for your size group and the ages of the “gamers”. Many popular games have children’s versions of those games geared for younger audiences. If you have a rather large group, consider playing the games in teams or breaking into smaller groups and allowing each group to play a different game. Playing games in teams is also a great idea for game night involving small children who might need assistance. Allow everyone to take turns choosing the games you will play, so everyone has fun playing a variety of games. While we love pretty much any board game, some of are favorites are classics like HASBRO® Jenga and Classic Monopoly, they require different skill levels and can accommodate two or more players.
3. Game Night Prep- While game night should be a fun and stress free event, there are some things to keep in mind when getting ready. Check all games to ensure you are not missing any crucial parts or pieces. Gather pens, paper, extra dice, timers, etc. to have on hand to keep score or in case you are missing these pieces. Set up and prep a designated “gaming” area. If you are having a large group over, bring out extra chairs and consider a game that does not require sitting at a table. For games like Monopoly, plan to set up at a large kitchen table with plenty of table space and chairs for the number of guests. Consider investing in card tables and folding chairs to accommodate large game night parties. If serving food, plan your menu and gather any necessary paper goods.
4. The Food- No game night, large or small, would be complete without a few snacks. Keep things simple by serving easy to prepare or store bought snacks and treats. Fruit and veggie trays, chips and salsa, soda, bottled water, cookies, brownies and candies, like everyone’s favorite M&M’s®, are always crowd pleasers.
For our latest game night with friends, I picked up Jenga, Monopoly, and a BIG Bag of M&M’s® Peanut at my local Walmart. In addition to setting out a bowl of M&M’s® for snacking, I decided to whip up a batch of cookies to enjoy while we played our games. These Peanut Butter M&M’s® Cookies are the perfect cookie for all those peanut butter lovers out there. I start with my favorite peanut butter cookie then stuff as many M&M’s® Peanut AND Peanut Butter I can inside. The end result is a soft yet crispy peanut butter packed cookie!
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup M&M’s® Peanut
1 cup M&M’s® Peanut Butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and ½ cup granulated sugar and beat until smooth. Add the egg, milk and vanilla and mix well.
Slowly beat in the flour mixture a little at a time, mixing just until combined. Stir in the M&M’s® candies.
Place remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar in bowl. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, form the cookie dough into 1 inch balls and roll in granulated sugar. Place cookies onto ungreased baking sheets, leaving several inches in between for expansion. Using the palm of your hand, gently press the balls of cookie dough.
Bake at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes, until cookies are set and starting to brown. Do not over bake.
Cool on baking sheet for 1-2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an air tight container at room temperature for up to one week.
NOTE: M&M’s® candies can be left whole or chopped for easier handling.