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Although some card deck games should definitely be labeled NSFFGN (not safe for family game night), there are plenty of options that kids and adults can play together that will guarantee both laughs and bonding time. But, be sure to check the recommended age before playing because some of these hilarious bonding activities may have adult themes not suitable for young players.
The beauty of a card game is that it can also be tossed in a tote bag and pulled out when you've got time on your hands—like during a vacation, at the park, or at home before dinner. There's also a beautiful simplicity to them: most don't have overly complicated rules, and there's usually no board or game pieces to bother with, so new players (such as younger children) will have a gentle learning curve.
Here, our favorite family card games that are well suited to families with kids of all ages.
Number of Players: 2 or more | Duration: 15 minutes | Recommended Age: 10 years and up
Promotes critical thinking
Suitable for large groups
Not as high of replay value as other options
This game of thinking (and speaking) fast will bring the whole family together for fast-paced fun. The Splurt deck contains cards with a category on one side. On the other side is a letter and the spot in the word that letter designated, for example "starting with f" or "ending in y." The first person to yell out a word fitting both descriptions (a movie start starting with w or a pizza topping beginning ending with t) wins that card. The game continues until all the cards are gone and the player with the most cards wins.
Pandasaurus Games The Mind
Number of Players: 2-4 | Duration: 20 minutes | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
New game with every group that plays
Ways to make the game harder and easier
Cards are a bit flimsy
The rules of The Mind are simple: place the cards numbered one to one hundred in ascending order. However, you cannot speak or communicate in any way. Families will love attempting to read each others' minds as they face this collaborative card game challenge. This game will change depending who is playing for a new experience every time. Or play again and add more cards to your hand for an even bigger feat to tackle.
Hasbro Gaming Monopoly Deal Card Game
Number of Players: 2-5 | Duration: 15 minutes | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
Each gameplay is different
Less pieces than classic monopoly
Can be difficult to grasp at first
If your family can never sit long enough to finish a full game of the classic board game Monopoly, opt for this quicker paced card version perfect for slipping in your backpack or suitcase. The objective of the game is the same with each player trying to buy real estate and collect money. Collect three complete property sets to win, but look out for debt collectors, forced deals, and deal breakers. With short gameplays, you can play multiple rounds back to back for a new winner each time.
PlayMonster Relative Insanity
Number of Players: 4-12 | Duration: Not Listed | Recommended Age: 14 years and up
Suitable for large groups
Easy to grasp
Some material may be inappropriate or crude for some players
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy's material now comes in an interactive card game perfect for families with tweens and teens that want a good laugh. One player acts as a judge and reads the setup to a joke. The rest of the party submits a punchline from their hand of cards and whoever the judge picks wins that round. Continue racking up cards until the one with the most is declared victorious (and a comedic genius). Some of the humor may come off crude or inappropriate for young players, so take that into account before purchasing.
Hygge Games ...I Should Have Known That! Trivia Game
Number of Players: 2 or more | Duration: Not Listed | Recommended Age: 14 years and up
Can be played anywhere
Suitable for various ages
Perfect for large groups
Can get repetitive if completed all the questions
Trivia games a nearly instruction-less option that anyone can get the hang of and enjoy no matter where you are. Perfect for road trips or dinner parties, I Should Have Known That from Hygge Games challenges you to questions you should already know the answer to including "How do you say Japan in Japanese" and "How long did Sleeping Beauty actually sleep?" The whole family will love facing off in this fast-paced test of random knowledge.
Exploding Kittens LLC On a Scale of One to T-Rex
Number of Players: 2-8 | Duration: 15 minutes | Recommended Age: 7 years and up
Suitable for various ages
Big replay value
Everyone performing at once can lead to loud, unorganized chaos
This hybrid of charades takes will get the whole family moving while still in a small portable case to bring to the beach, tailgate, or on vacation. Action cards are placed on the table and are not secret. These include an act like draw a circle in the air. Then, everyone selects an intensity card that tells you how intensely to perform that act on a scale from one to ten; these are kept secret. Everyone performs their actions at the same time and the goal is to find the player performing at the same intensity level as you.
Exploding Kittens LLC Exploding Kittens Card Game
Number of Players: 2-5 | Duration: 15 minutes | Recommended Age: 7 years and up
Easy to learn
Suitable for various ages
Some themes may be unsuitable for younger players
This popular, 15-minute game, which is described by its founders as "a highly strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian roulette," has sold millions of copies. How to play? You pick from the draw pile, and if you pull an exploding kitten card you're out, unless you can use another card in your hand to take action. That might mean defusing with a "kitten yoga" card, deploying the "weaponized back hair" card, or playing your "rub the belly of a pig-a-corn" card, which allows you to peek at the top three cards in the pile. Obviously there's a fair amount of luck and chance, but you'll also need to strategize as you figure out which cards to play when, and as the draw pile gets smaller, your chances of pulling an exploding kitten get larger, thus increasing the tension. quickly.
"But most people attracted to this game will love the ridiculous drawings of bats farting or cats shaped like hairy potatoes, all in Matthew Inman’s signature humorous style. Our players found the pictures hilarious, and they added a big fun factor to the game. Even the text on the instruction sheet is fun and slightly silly."—Danielle Centoni, Product Tester
Mattel Games Apples to Apples
Number of Players: 4-8 | Duration: 30-75 minutes | Recommended Age: 12 years and up
Perfect for longer gameplay
Some pop culture references may go over kids' heads
In this fun and familiar game, players take turns being the judge, which little ones will appreciate as it helps balance out the power dynamics. The basic premise: Red cards list nouns (people, places, things, events) and green ones have adjectives. Each player is dealt seven red cards, while the green ones are left as the draw pile. The judge flips over the top green card, and reads it aloud. The other players must then put down the red card that they think fits best with the green one in play. Note that the goal is to wow the judge (you can argue your point), so that might mean picking a combination that you suspect they will appreciate—for example, "glamorous BigFoot" might trump "glamorous supermodel" for the right judge. If you win a round, you get to keep the green card, and the goal is to rack up a certain number of cards, which based on how many people are playing.
Number of Players: 2-12 | Duration: 30 minutes | Recommended Age: 7 years and up
Easy to follow instructions
Cards can be flimsy
If dominoes and Gin Rummy had a baby, it might look something like this classic game, which has been popular for several decades. The object is to build straight rows of five chips (called sequences). As you do so, you'll need to also block other players and attempt to remove their pieces using certain cards, such as jacks. The game has an easy point of entry since reading isn't required: It can help kids develop skills such as logical thinking, cooperation, and strategizing.
"It’s simple enough for young ones to understand and still enjoyably challenging for tweens, teens, and adults."— Sarah Vanbuskirk, Product Tester
Mattel Games UNO: Classic Card Game
Number of Players: 2-10 | Duration: Not listed | Recommended Age: 7 years and up
Suitable for various ages
Easy to follow directions
Energetic and fast-paced
Cards can become flimsy after repeated use
Iconic and perennially beloved, Uno is a game that can be customized for the age and skill level of the players. There are many rule variations, and some families even create their own, but the basic outline is simple enough for younger kids to understand. The object is to rack up 500 points across several rounds, which one can do by getting rid of their cards first, since they'll earn points for whatever cards their opponents are left holding. As they play, kids and parents can discuss the different ways to strategize. If your kids don't have the stamina to play to 500 points, simply declare the winner at the end of each short round, which might also be the best strategy if you're playing with sensitive little ones.
Atlas Games Gloom
Number of Players: 2-4 | Duration: 60 minutes | Recommended Age: 13 years and up
Great for teens and tweens
Dark subject matter
It can be hard enough to get your teens to join you for dinner, let alone an extended family game night, but this quirky, cleverly illustrated option just might be cool enough to lure them off FaceTime. Gloom is storyline-driven and the object is to inflict tragedy (and eventually death) on your own characters, while creating happiness and good cheer for your opponents. Each player is in charge of a family of eccentric types (characters include the Lurking Butler and the Creepy Clown), and the innovative design of the transparent plastic cards means everyone can easily see the score and progression of the game.
Number of Players: 3-6 | Duration: 30 minutes | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
Expansion packs available
Promotes creative thjinking
Dark imagery may be scary for young players
This gorgeously illustrated game helps spark imaginative storytelling. The cards were illustrated by Marie Cardouat, known for her work on games like Steam Park and Marrakech, and have a dreamy, museum-worthy look to them. In Dixit, a player is asked to make up a tale inspired by the imagery, and the others at the table must try to guess which card they're referencing. Although expansion packs are also available, the game's creator, Jean-Louis Roubira, has said that part of the challenge of the game is to find new and surprising associations even about pictures you've already seen. Some families might even decide to mix things up by creating their own rules, for example, all associations during a given round must be related to a favorite sport, movie, or vacation spot.
Skybound Superfight 500 Card Core Deck
Number of Players: 3 or more | Duration: Not Listed | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
Great for on-the-go play
May need a moderator to explain the instructions and keep the game going
Here's the set-up for this silly game perfect for kids who love to argue: The white cards represent characters and the black ones stand in for attributes. Each player picks three of each type and uses a black and a white card to create the character that would be most likely to dominate in a fight. (Examples might include a zombie/with a beard full of bees, Your Mom/throws fireballs, or Abraham Lincoln/armed with the force.) The fun really starts when each player starts defending their character. The group votes to decide the winner, and if there's a tie, those two players must do a face-off (again, more verbal banter) using only character cards. Although it's a silly premise, parents have said they enjoy how much the game reveals about how their kids think and reason things out. Expansion packs are focused on themes such as horror, 1980s, 1990s, and anime.
Kids Against Maturity Card Game
Number of Players: 4 or more | Duration: 30-90 minutes | Recommended Age: 10 years and up
Are your kids ready to graduate from Apples to Apples but you don't dare show them Cards Against Humanity? This popular pick, which is heavy on the potty humor, is exactly the right compromise. The structure is similar: Players are each given 10 answer cards, and take turns playing the role of judge, which involves reading the question card and selecting the best answer—which, let's be honest, is usually the worst. Note that this game is not for the faint of heart: Parents should be prepared for references to things like "tipped-over Port-o-Potty," "turd burglar," and "the kid who wipes boogers under the desk." There are a few innuendos tossed in for the adults, but if you're concerned, you can always opt to edit the deck ahead of time.
What To Look for in Family Card Games
It can be hard to find a game that fits the whole family. Before investing in a new one, take a peek at the specs—namely the age range and number of players—to make sure that it's the right fit for your family. If you have little ones, for example, you'll want to opt out of anything too advanced.
Some of the games on this list have some adult humor or themes that may be seen as crude or inappropriate for some members of your family. To ensure the best possible time, take a quick scan of the game and the reviews to find just how mature the game is.
Keep in mind the amount of space needed to play the game. Most games just need a table or a bit of floor space.
One of the great things about card games is that they are (usually) portable. Most of these games come in small boxes that are easy to slip into a backpack, suitcase, or even a pocket to take on-the-go. Consider where you are planning to play this game most. If the answer is road trips, opt for something with a small box. Just gaming at home? The size of the actual game should not matter as much.
Knowing how long certain games last is key to knowing how long your family will remain entertained. Boxes usually have the average duration of gameplay so you can plan accordingly when buying. If the duration isn't listed, check out gaming sites that will also usually have additional rules, tutorial videos, or hints for optimized game play.
Duration is important when considering who you are playing with. A teen may have a longer attention span than a 6-year-old so different games may be better for each. Also, you are more likely to get more use out of a game with a smaller duration. This also guarantees you can play over and over again.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Julia Fields, a lifestyle writer for The Spruce covering all things surrounding toys, gifts, and the holidays since October 2021. Before that, she covered similar topics including toy reviews, product roundups, expert-focused articles, and more. Additional reporting was done by Marisa Donnelly, a writer and editor with over 12 years of experience. Her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Bustle, BossBabe, Thought Catalog, and more.