Thursday, December 1, 2011

How to Make a Family Memories Board Game

I'm so excited about this wonderful family memory game, I can barely stand it.  The game is brought to you by Family Fun Magazine, the best magazine on the planet.  This link will take you to the basic instructions.

I took the basic instructions and turned this game into a one of a kind story-telling fest that is custom made for my family.  The object of the game is to go around the board sharing memories and learning more about your family while trying to collect all five treasures so that you can head Home Sweet Home.  I gave the game to my parents for Christmas, and it was a real hit at our family reunion the next month.  I will tell you what I did here so you can use, tweak, and enhance the ideas to fit your own family.  It may be a bit of work, but it is totally worth it.  BTW, when you play the game--make sure you have the camcorder running!


Theirs                                                                      Mine

Make your game board by covering an old candy land, chutes and ladders, checkers, or whatever old board you have laying around.  I covered mine by cutting red wrapping paper the same size as the board, gluing it on with glue stick, gluing on the spaces, covering it with contact paper, and sticking black electrical tape around the edge.
Check out Family Fun's site to see how they made theirs.  Here's how I made mine:
My board has 5 spaces on each edge, a space in each corner, and 4 more place spaces going up the center. The edge spaces consist of 3 place spaces and 2 card spaces.
Place Spaces:  (15 in all) Each place space names a place you've been with your family.  I added a fun picture on each space just to make the board more fun. When you land on this space, you are required to share a memory that happened in the named place with your family.  I tried to use places that would conjure up many memories for many different people, not just one or two.
Card Spaces:  On each edge of the board is one trivia card space, and one "Who and What" space.  If you land on a trivia card space, you draw a trivia card and answer the question.  If you land on a "who and what" space, you draw a "who" card and a "what" card.  See below for more about these.
Corner spaces:  1 start space, 1 take a treasure (from the treasure box) space, and 2 snitch spaces (take a treasure from a player of your choice).
To Mark The Spot on the Board Where the cards are placed:  Glue each card on the board with the title side up (mine are "Who the Hops" "What the Hops," and "Hops Sakes.")

Check out Family Fun's site to see how they made their cards.  I did mine a bit different.  My main goal in making the cards the way I did was to insure that the cards can be used over and over again since with Family Fun's trivia cards you can only be use each card once before everyone who played knows all the answers.

My Cards:
Trivia cards (I call mine "Hops Sakes" cards on my game board because that is an old family saying.  Remember to tailor your game to fit your family.):  These cards ask family trivia questions and are designed to bring up more memories.  Here are some of the questions I used on the trivia cards:
"Quote a line from ________."  (a favorite family movie)
If your family uses silly words or has a special language, make a card that tells the player to say something in that language or to say something that only someone in the family would know the meaning of.
"Impersonate Grandpa by doing something he would do."  Make another card for grandma.
"Tell something about Great Grandma ________."  Make a card for each great grandpa and grandma
"Name something fun you can do in __________."  (Name a favorite family destination).
Tell about a play, performance, or concert in which Grandpa and Grandma's kids have performed.
"Name one of Grandma ____________'s hobbies."  (Make this card for each grand parent)
"Name something that most people in this family like to eat."
"Share only one of the following words with the group and define it."  Add silly or special family words to the list.
"Name a movie that most people in this family like."
"Name something that most people in this family would never do.
What is something you might eat at Great Grandma _________'s house (make one for each great grandma that the family knew)
Name one thing that Grandma ________does not approve of
Recite one of Grandpa _____________'s sayings
Name the town that Grandpa (or Grandma) _________ grew up in.  Tell something about it.
Repeat a family saying
Tell something about Grandma ________________'s house.
Name a favorite family game and explain the rules.
Name one thing this family doesn't approve of
Name a pet that Grandpa and Grandma have owned

Who cards and what cards are to be drawn simultaneously.  The "who" tells you who you will be guessing about and the "what" card tells you what you will be guessing about the player (see my rules for examples).
Examples of "who" cards:
Person to the right
Person to the left
Last person to draw a card
Last person to obtain a treasure
Person with the most recent birthday
Person with the shortest hair
Person wearing the most white
Person most recently baptized
The person who last stood up
The person who laughed last
The person who last ate a burrito
Person with the curliest hair
Person with the darkest hair
Person with the lightest eyes
The person smiling the biggest right now
The person who last talked

Examples of What cards:
Favorite color
A favorite story
A favorite song
An important day in their life
A past or present pet
Favorite color
Favorite hobby
A favorite game
A favorite sport
A favorite movie
Name one of their talents
What grade are they in?
A favorite book
A favorite place to visit
A favorite holiday (besides Christmas)
Are they a morning person or a night owl?
What year were they born?
One thing they are afraid of
Their favorite breakfast cereal
Their favorite dessert

Schmooze Cards (In my game I call them "Hootzle" cards because that word better fits my family).
Schmooze cards just say "Schmooze" on one side.  The other side is blank.  See rules for their use.


Theirs                                                                               Mine

Make a Game piece for each player.  I made six.  Usually more players than six want to play, so I have them partner up.  Family Fun used pendants.   I made the pieces for my game out of wooden clothes pins, shortened and glued on a wooden base with a wooden "head" on top.  If I'd had more time and inclination, I would have made them look more like little people.  I made each game piece to represent one of the six kids my parents had.  On the base of each piece, I painted one of the kid's nick names.


Theirs                                                                                  Mine

Family Fun's Treasures represent important elements of life like health, happiness, wealth, etc.  My treasures represented quirky things that would only be special to my family such as a pot of beans, a bottle of cayenne pepper, etc.  I took a picture of four treasures, but you actually need five different treasures for each of the six player (30 treasures in all.  To make my treasures, I bought large clear pebbles from the craft store. Draw or print off your pictures the size of the pebbles.  Cover the flat side of each pebble with tacky craft glue and press the picture face down onto the glue.  Leave the pebble flat-side-up to dry (This is important.  If you lay it flat side down, the pictures will smear).
When dry, trim the picture if it sticks out beyond the edge of the pebble.
Family Fun has you make treasure boxes out of Altoid (mint) tins for each player to stash their treasures in.  I did not do this, but it is a fun idea.

Cover an old game box that will fit your gameboard and decorate any way you wish.

                    Theirs                                                                                       Mine

The box lid is actually the last thing I did.  At that point I was too tired to do anything except cover the box with red paper, print out it's name in fun font, and line the name with electrical tape.  I like family fun's idea of a picture collage--I just didn't have time.

Inside the box:  I used jewelry boxes and lids to organize my game pieces.
Remember to include dice.


Click here for Family Fun's  rules:

My rules are custom made to the quirks of our family.  Here they are to give you an idea of how you can make yours:
 Family Memories Game

Object of the game:
If you are sharing memories, learning more about each other, and having fun, you are winning. The ultimate winner is the player who collects all 5 treasures and gets to HOME before anyone else.

Set up:
Each player chooses a game piece. Place the game pieces at "Start." Shuffle and place the three decks face down in their correct spaces on the game board. Deal three "Schmooze" cards to each player. Set the Treasures off to the side of the board. Roll the die to determine the order of play: High roll goes first; play proceeds clockwise around the board.

How to play:

1. Spaces Each player begins on "START," rolls the die on his turn, and moves around the board. More than one player can occupy the same space. Follow these instructions for each type of space:

Start space. Each time a player passes start, he or she collects a treasure. If the player neglects to collect on his turn, he is out of luck UNLESS he is under 8 years old OR over 50 years old. If a player lands on start, he or she collects 2 treasures.

Share a Memory space: tell a brief memory about yourself with family at the location mentioned. No memory can be repeated during play unless enough new information is provided as to render the repetition worthwhile (the success of a repetition attempt is determined by vote. If voted down, players deliver the reprimand discussed later in step 3.

Trivia space: take the top card from the trivia card pile read the question then answer it. At no time in the game can any player repeat any information already given in the course of the game unless it is to embellish the already provided fact.

Who and What??? space: take the top card from both the "Who???" and What ???" deck of cards. Read your "Who??" card to determine which player you will be guessing about. Read your "What??" card to find out what you have to guess about that player. Example: If your "Who??" card says, "Person with the longest hair" and your "What??" card says, "favorite food," you need to determine which person has the longest hair and guess their favorite food. If you get the answer wrong, the person you guessed about delivers the reprimand discussed later in step 3 and then provides you with the correct answer. Now you are wiser and smarter. All players should be liberal in their acceptance of any close answers about themselves.

Treasure space: choose a missing treasure.

Snitch space: This space gives you special permission to snitch a treasure of you choice from another player of your choice.

2. Schmooze Card If a player is unable to answer any card or space correctly, he or she may use a Schmooze card to scmooze the answer from another player of his or her choice.
3. Reprimand Choose a reprimand to be given when a player fails to provide a memory or incorrectly answers a question. Give your reprimand a silly name. It should be something funny and relatively painless.

4. In-law reward If you are not related to this family by blood you are welcomed and encouraged to play. All such person's are rewarded for their bravery by being exempt from the Reprimand during the entire game.

5. Path to Home Sweet Home Once you've collected all 5 treasures, you can turn up the path to Home Sweet Home. If someone snitches a treasure from you before you arrive, however, you must go back around the board until your collection is again complete.

6. Home You do not have to roll the exact number to land on HOME. The first player to land on HOME is the winner. Choose a way to commend the winner such as doing a family cheer, singing a favorite family song, etc


  1. This is a great game. We need to get together and play it again!!

  2. Thank you!! I saved this link 6 years ago and meant to make this game before all my kids were grown and gone. I finally got around to making this - only to find the link no longer exists!! I appreciate the helpful hints and detailed directions. :-)

  3. Do you have the basic instructions from Family Fun since it's no longer available that you could send to me?