No matter the size of your family, games are a great way to strengthen the family unit. Whether it’s the two of you playing a friendly game of chess or a marathon ten-player Monopoly tournament, games bring us together and allow us a safe space to challenge each other. No matter the outcome of the game itself, everyone is a winner when families play together.

Choose Your Contest
Setting up a family game night is easy. Just pick a day that everyone can work with and send out the challenge. Your first step will be picking a game. The ideal game for a family game night will be something that can be enjoyed by players of different ages and skill levels, and something you can play again and again. Games of thought and strategy are an excellent choice, especially when you may want to help wind down younger children before bedtime.

One of the oldest traditional board games is chess. This game dates back to the 15th century and its history and variations provide an opportunity for many fascinating lessons and discussions. Most importantly, it’s a wonderful way to spend time learning and playing together. Chess teaches skills that will last a lifetime, such as patience, discipline, concentration and strategizing. If you and your family don’t yet know how to play chess, that’s okay too – learning the rules together is another way to spend time.

You could spend a lifetime mastering the game, and people do; but with a few hours and a set of basic instructions – included with most commercially-available boards – even young children can quickly master the rudiments. The increasing complexity of the game is actually part of the fun; the more you play, the more possibilities you will see, making chess perhaps the ultimate game for replay value.

Getting Equipped
Once you’ve chosen a game, you’ll need a board and pieces. There is a staggering array of different chess board varieties, both in style and in materials they are made with. Don’t get overwhelmed. After all, a basic plastic set provides the same game experience as an expensive collector’s edition. At the same time, remember that this is a gaming habit that may last a lifetime; in the long run, it’s best to go with a durable board and pieces that suit your tastes. So indulge yourself; choose a set that appeals to you, be it a “classic” chess set, elaborate themed pieces, or even that collector’s edition. This is an investment that will endure.

Of course, no one plays a game alone. Consider the tastes of your gaming partners, as well. For example, younger kids may enjoy a chess set with a fantasy theme.

To keep your family game night fun and exciting, invest wisely to throw in a little variety. Multi-game sets will provide boards and pieces for a range of classic parlor games, including chess, checkers, and backgammon. And don’t forget the furniture! While you can always play a game at the kitchen table, specialized gaming tables provide a touch of elegance, making family game night feel like the truly special event that it is. A classic green baize or leather-topped card table, or a chess table inlaid with the board pattern in rich hardwoods, adds beauty and value to any setting.

By Jack Feerick
Jack Feerick is an editor for, your source for chess sets and more