Just because your Friday nights look a lot different these days (fewer happy hours, more toddler hours), that doesn’t mean you and your crew can’t make it a party (at least until bedtime). Start a new family tradition that makes the end of the week the best part of the week. From game nights to awesome family activities, here are our favorite ways to give TGIF a whole new outlook.

Hold a family meeting

Let Friday night be the night the whole family sits down to discuss the ups and downs of the week. You can focus on what went well, what goals were reached and which rewards or consequences need to be doled out. In just 20 minutes, you can get everyone on the same page as far as family expectations are concerned, and then be sure to add a little fun on the end. Ice cream sundae, anyone?

 

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Build a fort.

There's so much more to building a fort than pillows and blankets in the family room. Creating a rad reading nook, cardboard castle or a cozy spot is a great Friday night activity. If you need some fort-building inspiration, here are 20 epic indoor forts you'll want to live in

Have a reading night.

Reading is always a great family activity. Instead of movie night, cozy up on the couch with blankets and books. Whether every family member has their own book or you're reading a novel together, there are tons of great choices. Any of these classic kids' books are a great choice and we've got 100 books to read before your kiddo turns 12.

Jazz up your movie night popcorn.

Kick up your snack game by making fun and delicious homemade popcorn. Keep it simple by popping kernels on the stove, or jazz up a bag of microwave popcorn with sprinkles and spices. How about taco-spiced flavor or cookies and cream popcorn?

Camp out at home.

Camping isn't just about pitching a tent in the wilderness. Change up Friday night by camping in the living room, or pitch a tent in the backyard. These camping activities will give your family a ton of wilderness inspiration without leaving home.

photo: Melissa Heckscher

Create a comic strip.

Encourage your little ones to share their creative storytelling in the form of a comic book. Parents can get in on the creativity by creating a comic strip too. This fun and simple DIY comic strip tutorial will help you get started. Make this a monthly tradition, so you create a new story strip each month.

 

Start a family band.

Rock out as a family during your own Friday night concert. Your kids can start by creating any of these handmade instruments that actually play music. Then, get your smartphone or tablet ready for concert time—there are many music-making apps that will record your tunes.

Make it a movie night.

Unwind from your busy week with authorized screen time. Make sure to make it a cozy situation with plenty of blankies and rotate show or movie picks. Or get super creative and go drive-in style. Here’s our list of the latest kid’s stuff to hit Netflix.

Take a stroll.

An after-dinner stroll might not sound like much of an event but the act of being together, even if you are only walking around the block, can be extremely bonding for children (and super fun for you!). To make it a little more adventurous, try a simple I-Spy or spotting walk. You can also have each member of the family silently observe something on the walk. When you get home, take turns sharing your observation. Plus you get a chance to get a few steps in to start your weekend off on the right foot!

 

Have a family game night.

Teach the kids a new card game or play an old favorite. It doesn’t matter if it’s Gin Rummy or Candy Land, as long as everyone in the family participates. Draw straws to see who picks the first Friday night game and take turns picking a game that everyone will love. And don't forget Charades! It's the easiest form of low-fi entertainment around. 

Set up a scavenger hunt.

Stage an elaborate scavenger hunt before bedtime with little more than a pen and paper. Just write out the clues (each one a hint of the location of the next clue) and make sure the kiddos are distracted while you hide them around. Number the clues in case one is found “accidentally” too early. Hide something simple at the end, like a treat or even just an IOU for a Saturday afternoon playground run.

Have a family Top Chef competition.

Make dinner a fun event by having each family member create a dish, or team up to make different dishes. There are tons of easy recipes that even the youngest chef can make (with a little help from a sibling or parent). Three-ingredient recipes such as grilled cheese roll-ups and PB&B quesadillas are simple and delicious choices for mealtime.

Have an artistic happy hour.

Set aside a little time to create something together. It could be clay sculpting or homemade play-doh or you could try and recreate Vincent van Gogh’s masterpiece Starry Night. Try drawing an outline of a scene or an object in black (or have older siblings do this) and then let the kids color in the original creation.

Get lit.

Make it an evening fit for the coolest literati by setting up a writing session. You can read a story from one of your favorite books, or try your hand at writing a haiku. We love these poetry mad libs for getting the kids in on the verse without fuss. Stage a poetry reading after to share what everyone has written.

—Leah Singer with Amber Guetebier

 

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featured image by Pexels via Flickr