Planning a Family Night

Family Nights. Intentional, focused family time. Consistent investments of time that pay huge dividends in our family in the long run and make a lasting impact on our hearts. Creating memories together by just slowing down and having fun as a family.

Sounds great. Sounds simple enough. But it’s one of those things that tends to be easier said than done.

We love Family Nights around our house! We’ve been doing family nights for a couple of years now, and they have made such a difference in our family since we started intentionally planning this special time together. We are not perfect at it, though…we have struggled over the years with being consistent with this time. We try to have at least one family night every week. We don’t always succeed at it, but that’s our goal. It doesn’t seem like it would be difficult, just one night a week, but life can get pretty crazy and finding that one night every week can sometimes be tricky…it’s easy to get so busy and overwhelmed with the day-to-day, so easy to let our calendars fill up with other activities and events, that stopping to spend a couple of hours of focused time together can be challenging.

That’s why I’ve found that planning ahead can make a HUGE difference. If I can look ahead, even just one week at a time, and set aside one night every week as designated intentional family time, then we are much more likely to spend that time together, and other things are less likely to creep in and suck up that time.

This year I’ve made myself some planning sheets and checklists to help me as I plan ahead for our Family Nights. I want to make sure that we are making consistent investments in our family, and intentional time together is such an important part of that. I’m hoping these little planning sheets will help me easily and quickly plan ahead for our family nights (or family days) so that we can be a little more consistent and intentional this year.

Family Night Planning Sheet

Family Night Planning List

The checklist has several different ideas for the types of Family Nights that we do. Here’s a quick explanation of each one:

  • Game Night – On game night we pull out the board games, video games, any kind of games that we can play as a family. We usually pop some popcorn or have some other kind of snack as we play together. We just did a game night last week and we had “medals” for the winner of each game…it was a fun little addition to an already fun night. (More on those, including some printables, in another post later this week!)
  • Movie Night – We love watching movies together. We pull out the blankets and sleeping bags and cuddle up together in the living room with some popcorn or snacks and watch a movie (it could be one we already own, or one we rented from Redbox, or a new one we recently purchased). Sometimes we will theme out this night based on the movie…there are so many awesome ideas on Pinterest and all over the internet for just about any movie, so it’s easy to add some activities and snacks that go along with the movie we’re watching.
  • Art Night – Painting, coloring, drawing, making a mess…this is Art night! We might just draw on paper, or paint canvases, or experiment with different kinds of art supplies…but no matter what we do or create, art night is always a favorite!
  • Craft Night – Especially around holidays, we make lots of crafts together. We’ve made ornaments at Christmas, decorated Valentines in February, and made turkeys around Thanksgiving. We’ve also painted birdhouses, made decorations for the house, created our own jewelry…..there are so many fun and simple crafts out there, Craft Night can be a great time to try something new and have fun together.
  • Baking Night – My girls love to help in the kitchen…whether it’s making and decorating sugar cookies (a favorite in our family), or a Make-Your-Own-Pizza night, cooking in the kitchen together makes for a great family night.
  • Science Night – Science experiments are a LOT of fun to do as a family…just be prepared to make a mess!!
  • Service Night – This night is all about intentionally serving others as a family. This might mean volunteering together at a soup kitchen, or delivering goodies to neighbors, or visiting a nursing home, or doing random acts of kindness for strangers around town…there are so many awesome ways to serve others as a family. And this kind of family time can make a huge impact in our kids’ hearts as they see and experience us living out what we believe about loving others. (This is one we hope to do a LOT more of this year!)
  • Celebration – Sometimes our Family Night is a special celebration, like a holiday or birthday or special event. For example, we always have a special family dinner for Valentines Day, and we have a Birthday Party for Jesus at Christmas…we also celebrate special accomplishments within our family (like recently when Lilly finally conquered her habit of sucking her thumb – this was a HARD one for her, and she was so proud when she had gone a whole month without sucking her thumb at all…so we went out to dinner and dessert and celebrated as a family!). Celebrations are fun, and are a GREAT reason to spend some extra time together as a family.
  • Kids’ Choice – This is a fun one…let the kids (or one of them) choose what we do for Family Night!
  • Adventure is Out There – Not all Family Nights have to take place in the house. We love to go out on “adventures” and explore the world. This may be going out stargazing at night or going on a hike together or taking a road trip to a new place or going to a park or the zoo or an aquarium…there are so many options, and so many ways to explore the world together.
  • Family DAY – At least once a month, we try to plan a Family Night that lasts all DAY long…a whole day of focused, intentional family time! Usually our family days are on Saturdays or school holidays…but we have to plan ahead because the calendar will fill up fast with other things. We’ve had hiking days, movie marathon days, pajama days, photo adventure days (road trip with random stops to take pictures of things we find)…or sometimes it’s just clearing the calendar and making a point to just spend the day together at home having a day of rest

I’m sure there are LOTS of other Family Night ideas out there. I’ve started a board on Pinterest with ideas that I’ve found…feel free to check it out and add to your own list of ideas. You can follow my Family Night Pinterest Board HERE. I’ll also try to blog about our Family Nights and share as many of them as I can, as well as any printables I make and use along the way. And if you have an awesome idea that you do as a family, please comment below and share!!

Family Nights can be ANYTHING you want them to be…there really is no right or wrong way to do a Family Night…the main thing is that you are spending intentional and focused time together as a family, and having fun!

Even though there’s no right or wrong way to do a Family Night, we do have a few general rules that we follow:

Family Night Rules

  1. Put Away Distractions and Devices – Phones, iPods, Nintendo DS, and all those other hand-held devices are put away for Family Night. Texts, emails, the latest Facebook updates, and that next level in that game can wait….this is family time, sacred time. Put away the distractions and focus on this time together.
  2. Everyone Participates – We ALL jump in and participate…everyone paints, everyone gets messy, everyone takes a turn. Calendars are cleared, no meetings or appointments interfere with this time (which is why planning ahead is important)…we will change the date of our Family Night before we will have a Family Night without a member of the family.
  3. Relax and Smile – No stressing allowed. (This is usually directed at myself, because I stress over details and worry if things don’t quite go according to plan). The cookies burned? No biggie! That craft didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to? Oh well. The little one has a meltdown? It’s ok. Things didn’t go perfectly? Great! That means you had the opportunity to model for your kids how to react and what to do when plans go awry….Family Nights usually make for great teachable moments. Just relax and smile through it all…this is about spending time together as a family, about investing in your relationships with one another…it’s not about baking the perfect cookies or painting that picture just right. It’s about the TIME together.
  4. Talk to Each Other – This one is so important…communication. Family Nights are the perfect time to have conversations together, to listen to each other, and to really communicate. Ask questions, really listen, share stories…this is just so important.
  5. Have Fun – No matter what goes wrong or what is planned, we WILL have FUN, by golly!!
  6. Eat Dessert – Because dessert just makes everything better! We always eat some kind of treat for Family Night.

Feel free to print and use these rules for your own Family Nights {just click on the image above to go to the PDF file}…or make up your own!! I’m also sharing my checklists…feel free to print and use these for your own personal family use {just click on the image to get the PDF}:

Full Page Planning Sheet:

Family Night Planning Sheet - Full Page

Planning Sheet with Two Per Page:

Family Night Planning Sheet - Two Per Page

I printed the 2-per-page ones, printed 26 copies (52 total, one per week of the year), cut them in half, and then used the tutorial I found over here on Skip to my Lou to make them into a little notepad for the year. {Actually, I didn’t have any silicone gel that the tutorial called for, so I used glossy Mod Podge instead…it worked GREAT!} Now I have a whole notepad for planning a year’s worth of Family Nights!

Family Night Planning Notepad

Enjoy!! And I wish you all some amazing and fabulous Family Nights this year!!!

{Side note: Isn’t this little owl pen holder just awesome?! My hubby gave it to me in my Christmas stocking…I just love it! It’s perfect for my favorite Sharpie colors of the moment 🙂 }

Fabulous Little Owl Pen Holder

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4 thoughts on “Planning a Family Night

  1. Denise Carlson January 23, 2015 at 4:06 pm Reply

    Love this!! Downloaded and ready to print, Thank you!!

  2. shoes January 20, 2014 at 11:12 pm Reply

    What a great idea – the intentional planning of family night! We do a weekly pizza and movie night at our house, but it would be fun to shake it up and have a variety of activities to choose from.

    And, yes, that owl pen holder is so CUTE! I love owls. I don’t suppose you could get your husband to spill the beans about where he got it so that I could track one down for myself?

    • Jennifer Tucker January 21, 2014 at 8:15 am

      Pizza and a movie night is always a hit at our house too! 🙂 And I asked my hubby and he said he found the little owl at LifeWay Christian Bookstore (Who knew?! I would have never would have guessed that! 😉 ).

    • shoes January 21, 2014 at 8:56 am

      Thanks! I will have to see if I can track that cute owl down.

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