Low-maintenance, minimum-equipment games

January 6, 2021

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” 

We couldn’t agree more, but frankly, after almost a year of being stuck inside, this talent is wearing thin for kids and parents alike. If finding fresh ways to keep the kiddos entertained is beginning to exhaust you, don’t fret.

We’ve got a few playtime tricks up our sleeve that are sure to delight the whole gang. Best of all, the ideas below require minimal equipment and work for all ages!


Paper Bag Skits

Fill a paper bag or pillowcase with random “props,” like a hairbrush, dog toy or ball of yarn. Then challenge your little drama queens and kings to create their own 10-minute skit based on the props they’re given. This game might even call for an impromptu “Oscars” ceremony afterwards! 


Save the Kids!

Full disclaimer: This off-the-wall game from Meredith Sinclair’s book “Well Played” isn’t the most healthy, but it is the perfect amount of silly to lift everyone’s mood! You can always sub candy for a healthier snack, if you’d like. 

Here’s how it works: Place 10 Sour Patch Kids (or candy of any kind) on a paper plate. Cover the candy Kids and the plate with whipped cream. Using no hands and only your mouth, save all 10 pieces of candy from the plate of whipped cream. First player to “rescue” all 10 Kids is the winner! 


Board Game Mash-Up

If your kids think board games are boring, this creative mash-up might just change their minds. Simply bring out three different board games, and then mix the pieces up. Put their imaginations to work by encouraging them to create their own crazy fun game. They’ll love the chance to teach you how to play by their rules for once. After you’re done, challenge your little inventors to correctly put the pieces for each game back in the right place!


Make a “Play” List

No, not that kind of playlist! This another idea we love from “Well Played.” Grab some markers, round up your family and together brainstorm fun things to do together in the upcoming year. Whenever you’re at a loss of what to do, you have a ready-made bank of ideas with input from everyone. It can be as epic as creating a tricked-out igloo in the backyard or as simple as having a pillow fight…anything goes! The best part is, making the list together can be just as bonding as actually carrying out your grand ideas.

Coke or Pepsi

Even the most tight-lipped among us can’t resist a game of “Coke or Pepsi?” Have each kid write down either-or questions, and then place them in a hat and take turns answering. You may be surprised by just how much you learn about each other! Here’s a few kid-friendly ideas to get the ball rolling: 

  • Ninja or pirate?
  • Mind reading powers or the ability to fly?
  • Beach house or mountain cabin?
  • Spongebob or Patrick?
  • Puppies or babies?
  • Spiderman or Batman?


Make a Music Video

Watch out, Beyonce! Encourage your little stars to choose a song they love, and then take the directing and choreographing into their own hands. Between choosing costumes and dance moves, they’ll disappear for hours. Plus, you get to enjoy a live performance from the sofa.

Open a Restaurant in Your Kitchen

Your kids will have a blast creating their own menus, naming their restaurant and best of all, whipping up creative recipes to serve you! For some extra fun, add a roll of inexpensive butcher paper to your kitchen table as a table runner. Encourage doodling, trivia questions, Tic-tac-toe, Hangman or whatever kids are interested in doing. Who can resist the joy of scribbling on the kitchen table?


Create a Fort

This idea isn’t exactly novel, but let’s be real…making a fort never gets old for kids or adults! Plus, it’s an awesome way to get the kids off their phones. Raid the linen closets for your pillows, blankets and sheets, and get to work creating your most fantastical fort yet. Once your fort is complete, enjoy some popcorn and hot cocoa in your new cozy den. 


Introduce Your Kids To Old-School Fun

Tik-Tok has nothing on the simple joy of Red Rover, musical chairs, dominoes, Four Square or a plain old game of tag! Or, bring out a stack of cards and teach the new generation some traditional games (and see who has the best Poker Face!). Your kids will love learning about your favorite childhood games. 

For more content on all things family-friendly, check out the CA Parents’ Corner blog!

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