Fun Card Games for Families

Inside: Fun Card Games that are ideal for family game night, fun weekend activities, or spending time with extended family. Give one a try today!

Take a moment and think back to when you were a kid. Do you remember which games you loved to play with your family or friends?

In my own family, we loved our board games. We played Monopoly and Clue for hours on the weekend. However, my husband grew up in a family that played cards all the time. He speaks fondly of memories of family gatherings full of card games and laughter. When we were newly married and visited during summer vacation, we still played a lot of card games whenever we saw his family.

The love of all types of games continues because we've shared our love of games with our own children. It’s one of our favorite ways to spend time together as a family.

My husband recently taught us how to play a game he's especially fond of called Scat.

Materials needed:

A set of playing cards

A way to keep track of your lives (pencil and paper, pennies, poker chips, etc)

The Goal of the Game:

To be the last player with lives left at the end of the game.

Every player starts with 4 lives. Every round you lose, you lose a life. If you lose 4 lives, you are out of the game.

To win a round, your goal is to get 3 cards of the same suit that, when their values are added together, either make 31 or as close to 31 as you can get. Aces are worth 11 points, Face cards are worth 10, all others are at face value.

The person who is the last one left with lives at the end wins the game.

To play:

The dealer deals out three cards to each player. You may only have 3 cards in your hand at all times. The rest of the cards are placed face down. Next to the face down pile is the discard pile. When it’s your turn, the card you are taking out of your hand goes face up in the discard pile.

The player to the left of the dealer goes first.

When it is your turn you have 4 options:

  1. Pick up the top card from the deck.

  2. Pick up the top card from the discard pile.  (Keep in mind that when you pick up from the discard pile then you will tip off the other players to what suit you may be going for.)

  3. Knock - When you are close to having 31 points in your hand, you may choose to knock when it’s your turn. You may not pick up a card when you knock, and everyone else goes once more before everyone reveals their cards.

  4. State that you have 31. If your cards equal 31, say SCAT and that ends the round. All other players lose a life.

At the end of each round, whoever has the lowest hand loses a life.

You can change suits anytime you like, but be careful when you discard. You may be helping the person next to you get closer to 31.

If someone knocks, and then has the lowest cards of everyone playing, they lose 2 lives.


The Social Connection

This game works on thinking about others, reading facial cues, understanding other people’s motivations and picking up on clues. By paying attention to what people are picking up (or not picking up), you can make smart guesses about what suit they might be going for. This is important especially if you are sitting next to someone and could potentially be feeding them cards to help them reach 31.

I both love and hate playing this game with my husband. He can read me like a book, so he seems to automatically know what cards I'm going to pick and what suit I'm going for.

Here is the frustrating part -- he's also taught my kids how to do this. My son especially picked it up really fast.  So now I'm sitting there and I'm trying to play and he's all “mom is going for hearts”. It’s super cute and frustrating at the same time.

Here are some ideas for other fun card games to play as a family:

  • Crazy eights
  • Uno
  • Old maid
  • Go fish
  • Gin rummy
  • Solitaire -  I know solitaire doesn't seem like a game that you would play as a family, but we've actually had a great time doing it. Sometimes we work together to complete the solitaire game to have a couple of sets of eyes looking for places to move cards.

What card games do you like to play with your family?

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