Unplugging to Connect: Creating Family Time

Have you had one of those weeks where the weather is poor and everyone is stuck inside? You start using the TV and other electronic devices more as the week goes on because you are running out of sane ideas. Or maybe someone got a new device for Christmas and you haven’t made eye contact since? It happens to the best of us.


Turn off the TV, mute the phones, put the devices in a basket and leave it in another room. Unplug and start making those real connections.

It has been raining a lot here in Colorado. My family definitely spent too much time inside and in front of screens. We needed to unplug so we took the challenge and unplugged, popped, and connected with our own Popcorn Games.

How to Play the Popcorn Games

First divide into teams and pick a name- we assigned each team to a popcorn flavor. Team Blast O Butter for the Boys and Team Healthy Pop for the Girls. The winners get to use their popcorn flavor after the games and go first in assembling their after game snack.

1. Popcorn Catapult

Tape a line across a table marking where the catapults can't cross (masking tape works great). Continue taping off lines at various distances along the table and give them different point values. Then tape one line that divides the other lines in half- one side for each team. Gather enough catapults for each team member and set them along the end of the table (we used Lincoln Logs). Finally, place one big bowl of popcorn between the two teams as ammo.

The goal is to collect as many points as possible within a timed period. The trick is, not all your catapulted popcorn will make it in your team’s area so working on aim as well as speed is important.

Change it Up:

  • Place bowls as targets instead to make it more difficult- the team with the most popcorn in their bowl wins

  • Only make one catapult per team, having everyone take turns

  • Pick 2 different flavors of popcorn that are easy to tell apart like JOLLY TIME's Healthy Pop and The Cheez- count points based on flavor, not sides of the table.

2. Popcorn Dodgeball

Tape a line in the middle of a table. Assemble teams on opposite sides of the table. Give each team member a straw. Pile popcorn along the taped line. 

When given the signal, both teams use their straws only (no hands!) to blow the popcorn onto the opposing team's side. If it falls off the table on the opposing side, you get a point. The team with the most popcorn on their side of the floor loses the game (Counting the pieces of popcorn at the end also helps with cleanup).

Change it Up:

  • Add more popcorn on the midline as the game continues to keep the game going

  • Race to see which team cleans up their side of the floor the quickest and give them bonus points

  • Slow it down by playing several one-on-one rounds instead

3. Popcorn Pick-up

Place some popcorn in the middle of one end of the table. Tape off the right and left sides of the pile then place a bowl behind each line of tape- you are marking a space for the popcorn and a line that the bowls can't cross. Grab two pairs of chopsticks (if you have little ones, chopstick helpers are great). Place one chair directly in front of the popcorn pile.

One member from each team shares the chair. They must link arms at the elbows and use the chopsticks in the hand that is linked. The goal is to put as many pieces of popcorn in their team bowl as possible in one minute. Arms must remain linked the entire time. At the end of the minute, count the amount of popcorn in the bowl for each team and declare a winner for that round. The team that wins the most rounds, wins this game. 

Change it Up:

  • Instead of counting after each round, the winner is based on total amount of popcorn

  • Move the bowls further apart for more a challenge and struggle

  • Allow the players to take popcorn out of the opponent’s bowl

The Final Results

Best two out of three wins! These games are full of fun and laughter with their wacky twists. And as an added bonus, snacking on the game pieces is totally allowed and sometimes makes the game more challenging. The winners of the Popcorn Games get to be first in creating their after game snack! 

Popcorn Trail Mix

Creating a build-your-own snack ensures that everyone gets exactly what they want. Gather some of your favorite popcorn and mix-ins. My personal favorite mix-in is chocolate covered raisins or Caramel M&Ms. Set it up buffet style and start with a generous popcorn base. Add your mix-ins and enjoy. If you really want to mix everything together well, pile everything in a paper bag, fold it shut, and shake!

Not only will you have lots of laughs and happy tummies when it was all over, you will make some great memories as a family. Let the frustrations melt away as you talk about the fun and eat your delicious snack. Our kids loved the undivided attention and games so much, they begged for us to do it again the next day. So we did.