Creating A Game Room For Your Kids:

Do you have an extra room in your house that hasn’t yet found its purpose in life? Maybe it’s the finished area of your basement. Maybe it was going to be your spare bedroom, but never quite got there. Either way, I bet it’s currently filled with all sorts of random junk.

Why not transform it into the ultimate family game room instead?

Especially as your kids get older, creating the ultimate family game room is actually a pretty smart idea. It can serve as the focal point for them and their friends. Meaning you never have to worry on Friday night about where your kid is, because you know they and their friends will be hanging out at your house. (My parents used to say this is why they got a pool and a VCR when my baby bro and I were tweens.)

But that doesn’t mean you have to wait until your kids are tweens. Even if they’re still in preschool, there’s no reason you can’t start with a play room that will grow up with them, into a game room the whole family will love both now and as your kiddos get older.

Ready to get started? Here’s your quick-start guide to designing the ultimate family game room, by ages and stages:

Want to know where your tweens/teens are on weekends? Set up the ultimate family game room in that unused room, and you know they'll all be at your place.

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Must-Haves for the Ultimate Family Game Room:

1. A Toy Box

WHO: Infants, toddlers, and school-age kids

Especially if your littles are still little, your game room needs to start with a place to stash all your kiddos’ toys. This doesn’t have to be a literal box (though it can be). Toy bins can work even better than a single general toy box, because it’s easier to sort toys by type and thus keep them organized.


In addition to a box/bin set for toys, I’d recommend a second one for dress-up items. Even at 7 and 9, my girls still sometimes pull out their dress-up bin and use its various scarves, purses, hats, and disguises to enhance their impromptu dramatic performances. And one of the nice things about dress-up is it’s open-ended play that really stokes kids’ imaginations and creativity.

2. Assorted board and card games

WHO: Toddlers and preschoolers through high-schoolers

Want to know where your tweens/teens are on weekends? Set up the ultimate family game room in that unused room, and you know they'll all be at your place.

Some people may think that board games are old-fashioned, but I disagree. My kids (Essie especially) LOVE playing board games and card games; if Essie can’t find anyone to play against her, she’s been known to play against herself!

This is one area of your game room that will remain constant, even as you rotate its contents to suit your growing kids’ tastes:

  • Little ones will love classics like Chutes & Ladders and Candy Land, plus newer games like Sneaky Snacky Squirrel.
  • Preschool and school-age kids have fun with card games, UNO, and checkers, as well as any number of other games out there;
  • As kids grow older, they will grow into other classics like chess, Parcheesi, backgammon, Scrabble, and Monopoly.

While some games are just plain fun, the teacher in this mama is a total sucker for any game with educational value. Even UNO can be good for training preschoolers in letter/number recognition, primary colors, and identifying patterns. So keep this in mind as you choose your game.

Also consider adding some single-player games, for when your kid wants to be by themselves. Smart Games are great at covering both these bases – games that teach and games that a kid can play by themselves.

3. Game consoles

WHO: Elementary-school-aged kids, tweens, and teens

I admit, I’ve never been a huge connoisseur of video games. But there are so many game options to choose from, from different gaming platforms to a bunch of handheld formats, that this is definitely something to consider if it’s something you/your kids are into.

If this is something you or yours are already interested in, then make sure your ultimate family game room has space and power for the necessary equipment and accessories (beanbags, anyone?). It’s also worth noting that there are tons of games with educational merit, especially among the options geared toward the youngest gamers; be sure to seek them out.

4. A game table

WHO: Elementary-school-aged-kids, tweens, and teens

If you really want to make your game room a neighborhood destination, investing in a game table is worth considering. Which kind you choose will depend on your space as well as your personal interests:

  • A foosball table is your least expensive and most compact option. You can get a decent one for as little as $150 (though of course you can also spend more).
  • Pool tables will require considerably more space, unless you get a very bare-bones (and somewhat flimsy) version. While you can get one for as little as $500, the sturdy ones you think of when you think “pool table” will generally start around $1000.
  • Then there are ping pong tables, which are generally less expensive than pool tables, and more so than foosball tables. A ping pong table will require the most space of the three.

Whichever you choose, remember that this is a long-term investment, given the nontrivial cost and space considerations. But your kids and their friends will enjoy playing on whichever you choose for years to come.

5. An arcade game

WHO: Elementary-school-aged kids, and especially tweens and teens

Want to know where your tweens/teens are on weekends? Set up the ultimate family game room in that unused room, and you know they'll all be at your place.

For the true ultimate family game room experience, nothing can beat getting a classic arcade game (or if you can afford it, more than one). Before you write this idea off, hear me out:

Having one or more custom arcade machines at your home will all but guarantee that your kids’ friends will live at your house in their spare time (and you will thus have the peace of mind of knowing your offspring’s whereabouts.) Why?

  • Generally speaking, kids only get to play these games when they’re out at an official arcade. If you’re at an arcade, it can cost a small fortune to use these machines; after all, the owners know they’re big money makers!
  • But if you have one in your home, your kids can play it to their heart’s content. Without leaving your home. This will be a star attraction for any friends who visit. And you’re guaranteed to get a whole lot of use out of it.

Do you have a family game room? What’s in it? What are your must-haves for creating the ultimate family game room? Let us know in the comments!

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Want to know where your tweens/teens are on weekends? Set up the ultimate family game room in that unused room, and you know they'll all be at your place. 

 

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