Family Games Played With a Deck of Cards

Are you looking for some fun family-friendly games for New Year’s Eve but all you have is a deck of playing cards? No worries, we’ve got you covered! Grab your cards and let’s get started!

#1.) Spoons. This game is great fun and can get a little wild! (It’s best played with people with short fingernails.) 😉 Set up the game by placing spoons in the middle of the table, one less spoon than the number of players. Make sure there are spoons within reach of each player. Deal 4 cards to each player.

The dealer places the remaining cards face down on his/her right side. Play begins with the dealer drawing one card from the pile. The idea is to get 4 cards with the same number. The dealer looks at the card and decides to keep it in his hand and discard one card from his hand OR he passes the card to the next person. Everyone plays at the same time, once the cards reach your spot in the circle. Each person does the same thing, either swapping the card for one in his hand or passing it on to the next person. You should always have 4 (and only 4) cards in your hand. When a player has 4 cards with the same number, he takes a spoon from the middle of the table. All other players then try to get a spoon too. The person that doesn’t get a spoon loses that round and loses a life. If you lose 3 lives, you are out of the game. Some people will sneak a spoon quietly and keep playing while others will yell and swoop in to grab one. Either way, you’ll be laughing and having fun!

#2.) Go Fish. This game has been popular for a very long time and you probably already know how to play it. When playing Go Fish with a full deck of cards, you need to get 4 of each number for it to be a match. (Some actual Go Fish card games only need 2 matching cards for a match.)

The dealer deals 5 cards to each player. Arrange your cards so like numbered cards are together. The player to the dealer’s left starts by asking another player for a certain card. Example: “Joe, do you have any Queens?” If Joe has any Queens, he must give ALL of them to that player. If Joe doesn’t have any Queens, he says “Go Fish” and the player must draw one card from the draw pile. If the player draws from the draw pile and gets the card they asked for, OR if they get the card they asked for from another player, they take another turn. When a match of 4 cards is made, it is laid down in front of the player.

If a player runs out of cards and there are still cards left in the draw pile, he draws 5 more cards. Play continues until all the matches have been made. The player with the most matches is the winner.

#3.) Cuckoo. This is a game I haven’t played yet but it sounds like fun. It’s very simple to learn. Each player begins the game with 3 lives. The dealer gives 1 card to each player. The remaining cards are set aside and not needed.

The idea is to avoid being the player with the lowest numbered card at the end of that round. When it’s your turn, you can choose to keep your card or swap it with the player on your left. After each player has taken their turn, everyone shows their card and the player with the lowest number loses that round and loses a life. You continue to play rounds until there is only one player left in the game. The last player in the game is the winner.

#4.) Crazy Eights. This game can be played by fairly young children, perhaps with a bit of help or prompting from a parent. Set the game up by dealing 5 cards to each player. (Deal 7 cards to each player if there are only 2 players.) Place the remaining deck in the center of the playing area for the draw pile and turn one card over to begin the discard pile. If the card is an 8, place that card back into the middle of the draw pile. The goal is to be the first player to get rid of all your cards.

The player to the dealer’s left goes first. They play a card from their hand that matches either the number or the suit (heart, club, diamond, spade). In my example, they would play a 2 or a card with hearts.

In this example hand, the player would play the 9 of hearts on the discard pile then play continues to the next player. If the player has no matching card, he draws one card from the draw pile. If it matches he can play that card. The player continues to draw 1 card at a time until he gets a card that matches. This game is called Crazy Eights because all 8 cards are considered WILD! You can play an 8 as a wild card and then you decide what the suit will change to. Example: if the card to play on is a 2 of Hearts, a player can play an 8 card and then say the play will now go to Clubs and the next player must play a Clubs card. Play ends with the first player to play all of his cards. If you want to keep score after each round, the cards that are left in the other players hands are added up and the points are given to the player winning that round. Kings, Queens and Jacks are worth 10 points each, 8’s are worth 50 points each and all other cards are at face value.

#5.) Memory. This is another game that has been around for ages and ages and you likely know how to play it too. Memory is good for well, your memory! 😉 You can play with the entire deck of cards or you can make it a smaller game by only playing with 2 suits. The game is set up by laying the cards out face down in even rows or as close to even as you can. The example game is using just 2 suits.

Play begins by turning over 1 card and then turning over a second card. If the NUMBERS match, you take both cards and place them in front of you and then you take another turn. If the 2 cards do not match, they are turned back over and play moves to the next player.

Play continues until all the matches have been made. The player with the most matches is the winner. The trick to this game is to pay close attention when other players take their turns and try to remember what you see.

#6.) Trash. This is another game that I haven’t played but I am looking forward to playing it at my first opportunity! I found this game on the Bicycle Playing Cards website and I will just copy and paste their instructions. (The pictures are mine.) Here is a link to the page if you’d like to check it out there:


Two players use one standard deck of 52 cards, 3-4 players use two decks, 5-6 players use three decks


Be the first player to complete your layout of ten cards Ace through Ten (A,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10)


Aces count as one, cards 2 to 10 have their face values, Jacks are wild, and Queens and Kings automatically end the player’s turn


Each player is dealt ten cards face down in two rows of five cards each. Players are not allowed to look at their cards. The remaining cards are placed face down to form the stock pile.


The first player draws from the stock.  If the card is any card Ace through ten, the player places that card in its correct location in the layout (the top left card of the layout is the 1 or Ace position, then 2, 3, etc.).  To do this, the player must remove the face down card that is occupying that location and turn it face up. This card, in turn, is placed in its appropriate location, if available, displacing the face down card that was there. This continues until the player finds a card that cannot be placed – a Queen or a King or a number card whose location is already occupied by a face up card with that number. The player must then discard the unplayable card, placing it face up on the table next to the stock pile to begin a discard pile, and the turn to play passes to the next player.

The next player will begin their turn by drawing either the top card of the face down stock pile or the top card of the discard pile (the card discarded by the previous player). The player will then place their card face up in the correct location in their layout, if available, displacing the card that was there to its own location, and continue until they find an unplayable card, which they add to the top of the discard pile to end their turn.

Since Jacks are wild, a Jack can be placed face up in any location containing a face down card, displacing the card that was there. Also a pip card whose correct location currently contains a face up Jack can be placed in that location displacing the Jack, which can then be moved to any other location with a face down card, displacing the card that was there.

If the stockpile runs out before anyone completes their layout the cards of the discard pile, apart from its top card which is left in place, are shuffled to make a new stock pile.


The winner of the hand is the first player to complete their layout by having an appropriate face-up card in each location.

The cards are then shuffled and re-dealt, but the winner of the hand has one fewer card in their layout. After winning one hand a player only has locations A-9 and Tens become unplayable for them. A player who has won twice only has locations A-8, and so on.

The winner of each hand plays first in the next hand.

The game continues until a player has only one location and wins the hand by filling it with an Ace or Jack. This player wins the whole game.


I hope you find these games fun and entertaining for your family! And if you are reading this on New Year’s Eve, I hope you have a wonderful time welcoming the new year in! 🙂