When you break it down, there are few fundraisers and events where families get to spend time together, being active together but without having to spend money. This is why a family challenge night makes a wonderful departure from the norm, regardless whether you set the challenge night up as a free or cost-recovery community event or as a fundraiser with entry tickets.
What is a Family Challenge Night?
A family challenge night is an event where families (parents and kids) participate in a series of events against other families. This makes it suitable for schools, sports clubs and even daycares and playgroups – you just have to make the games and events age-appropriate.
You can decide whether to make it competitive – with an overall winner, or whether it’s just an event for fun. The only difference is that points are awarded to families for a) completing and b) placing in each challenge – and the family with the most points at the end of the night being crowned the overall winner.
How to raise money with a Family Challenge Night?
Many of the games and events suggested below are free to organise or have very low costs, however if you wish to raise money from the event you can either sell tickets (ie $10-20 per family), look for sponsors, or run concurrent fundraising stalls such as selling food and drink.
The nice thing about a Challenge Night, is that you can choose events and games that don’t cost much to run, so you don’t have to try and raise funds from it – and it can just be a free event that encourages and builds community.
When to hold a Family Challenge Night?
During the warmer months, you can hold the event outside, either during the day or evening. It doesn’t actually have to be a night event. You can also hold it during the wet winter months – simply modify your choice of games and events so that they can be done indoors, and then hold it in your school gym or undercover area, or hire a local community hall.
How to run the event
How you organise the event will depend on how many families you have participating and the type of games and challenges you choose. Some challenges can be done by all families at the same time, others might need to be part of a rotation system, where families move through various games and challenges.
You may need to organise a group of volunteers who act as timers, referees and judges as well as an overall MC who keeps everyone entertained, lets people know how much time they have left in a challenge, calls out results and offers words of encouragement.
What games and events can you include in a Family Challenge Night?
Games/events suitable for lots of families at the same time:
Treasure hunt: create a list of items that families must find within a defined period. There are lots of treasure hunt ideas online, but you can choose any number of themes such as ‘nature’ (a certain type of leaf, snail shell, rock, twig of a certain size etc) ‘colours’ (a variety of objects of certain colours), ‘handbag’ (things people might carry in their bags or pockets – learn more here) . Another option is to hide clues around your venue which families must find and solve.
Kite flying: ask people to make a kite and then have a race to see who can have it fly first, or fly for the longest. Alternatively sell kites as part of your ticket price and raise some funds at the same time.
Quiz questions: intersperse your event with rounds of quiz questions and games that families must complete within a defined period of time. There are plenty of options online where you must identify things like logos, lines from songs, flags, characters from movies etc. Make sure they are suitable for kids and adults.
3-legged race/sack race/egg and spoon race/limbo: these old-school games are easy for large groups of people to do at once (if you have the space and the equipment). You will need large sacks, lengths of rope or spoons and eggs. Ping pong balls make less mess and are probably a safer option. The wheelbarrow race is another race that is easy to do and requires no special equipment. Play some fun music while you are running these games.
Paper planes: have families design and fold paper planes. The plane that flies the furthest wins.
Eating competition: families compete to see who can eat the most items in a one or five minute period. Suggestions include donuts, marshmallows, apples, hot dogs, pizza, meatballs.
Tower building: each family is given the same set of construction materials (ie pop-sticks, straws, cardboard tubes, paper, paper or plastic cups, sticky tape etc) and they must compete to build the tallest tower in a certain time frame (ie 5-10 minutes). The tower must be standing at the time the bell goes with no external assistance (ie you can’t be holding part of it up) and the tallest tower wins.
Tug-a-war: divide your families into two groups and have them battle against each other in a tug-a-war. The winning team splits into two, and the game continues until one family is the winner.
Games suitable for smaller numbers or part of a rotation system:
Giant lawn games: families compete in pairs in traditional oversized games such as jenga, connect-4, ring toss etc. These games can often be hired locally or you can DIY them.
Obstacle course: create an obstacle course around the oval or room using simple props. Families might have to climb over things, go through tunnels, step through tyres or hoops, balance on a beam etc. Families are timed to see how long they take to complete the course. You can make challenges that require the family to work together to get people through it. Check out playtivities.com for lots of obstacle course ideas.
Shooting hoops: families complete to see how many goals they can shoot in a minute
Bowling: create a DIY bowling alley using 20 partially filled milk or soda bottles. Each family gets two turns to knock over as many bottles as possible using a basketball. Cheap to set up, you could create multiple bowling games that work simultaneously – it’s just a bit of work re-setting the ‘pins’ each time.
Assemble jigsaw puzzle: find a challenging jigsaw puzzle from your lower primary classes, and families are timed to see how long they take to complete it.
Musical chairs: imagine the fun and chaos of playing musical chairs with fifty people at a time!