Family time is important, but so, too, is getting out of the house for a nice meal, at say, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. Once you have kids, the two are often exclusive affairs, unless, of course, you have the foresight to make the two come together: something to distract the little ones while maintaining order. Nothing achieves this better than a good ol’ restaurant game (put the phones away, please).
Lucky for you and your brood, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop has speedy service so that games can be played before and after your meal. This doesn’t mean you need to teach your children Texas Hold ’Em or sneak in a deck of Cards Against Humanity (not recommended for little ones). These games are simple, quick to teach and easy to create.
Although usually only played by bored high-schoolers in study hall, table football is also a great family pastime. All you need is a piece of paper, folded in half long ways and folded from the corner down into a triangle, and your fingers. The full table football rules can be found here, but “kicking” field goals through each other’s finger uprights is usually more than enough.
Pick something in the restaurant, say the familiar incantation (“I spy with my little eye, something [blank]”) and watch as your children desperately guess everything in sight. It’s an oldie, but a goodie.
Much like its cousin I Spy, ABC Spy gets the kids amped up to find and circle letters called out by parents on a kids’ menu or anything else you can get away with writing on. You may want to avoid using the drink menu.
What is also called Capture the Squares, this game consists of connecting as many dots to form squares as possible from a larger grid of dots. Take turns with your family connecting two dots at a time. Once a square is formed, place an initial inside to claim that square. The person with the most squares wins.
Find the Penny
Using three sugar packets hide a penny underneath one and move them around very quickly to confuse your family-turned-audience. Have them pick which one they think the penny is under. This only works if the kids are easily amused.
Guess Which Hand
Speaking of easily amused, hide a coin, sugar packet, piece of napkin, etc., in your hand and have your child guess which one it’s in. Hours of fun.
If you went to summer camp, you might remember this gem. By creating a fortune-teller out of origami (find step-by-step instructions here), you can become master of fate for all at the table. Colors on the outside; numbers on the inside; fortunes at the center.
Use some straws to create the tic-tac-toe game board and different colored sugar packets for the Xs and Os. If you don’t know how to play tic-tac-toe, then you need to reevaluate.
You know those games where there are two identical images with only a few small differences? Well, this can be recreated using random objects on the table. Have your family study them, close their eyes, remove one from the table and ask them to guess what has disappeared. That’s got to be good brain exercise, right?
Straw Wrapper Worms
It’s not so much a game, but always captures the kids’ imaginations. Once you’ve unwrapped the straws, scrunch the wrapper up and drop some water on it. The straw wrapper will begin growing and wiggling like a worm, much to the delight of your fans.
With these 10 restaurant games, you should have a decent line of defense to tantrums, crying and restiveness. You can find all of the aforementioned supplies at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, in case you were wondering.