DIY Family-opoly as an inexpensive GIFT!

Oftentimes, even as a little kid, I would get up before anyone else. My brother would still be sleeping, my mom would still be sleeping, so I would literally play ‘Monopoly’ by myself. I would play board games; I would do things by myself. -Will Ferrell


I had a horrendous pregnancy with my daughter and couldn’t work the entire time I was pregnant. Christmas, without any regard to me, decided to hit right in the middle of this very difficult time- both physically and financially. I couldn’t leave the house. Secondly, the internet was a new thing, so there wasn’t any ordering gifts online. And most importantly, I had no money. I knew that the shower of Christmas gifts from both my husband’s and my parents were inevitable as well as aunts and uncles looking to buy cute little dresses and things for the nursery.  The thought of not being able to reciprocate was heart breaking to both of us. The only thing I really had going for me was a lot of time on my hands. So, that Christmas, I made each and every gift we gave.

This one was my favorite.

I remember having this idea.  My family loves to play board games and I was wondering if there was a way for me to make a board game that we would love. I went through our closet of games to get inspiration when my eyes met Monopoly. Now, anyone who knows me very well knows I become a very horrible human being when I play Monopoly. I think the worst I get is when I play Star Wars Monopoly (I am always Vader). I win every time- even when everyone at the table gangs up on me (I have no hard feelings about that). Because I am a winner and they are… See what I mean? It just brings out the worst in me. One time, I found my family secretly playing the game without me! It was devastating…

Back to my story.

I thought, “What if I could take the Monopoly game and make my own cards and pieces? I could use inside jokes and make it very relevant to what’s going on right now in our lives.” It  was brilliant, I am not going to lie to you.


Our family Monopoly game is a precious thing to us. The first one I did, 15 years ago, is worn and tattered but it is a type of time capsule. Funny things that we would have never remembered are recorded on those cards. The playing piece of me shows me with a huge baby bump. When my family asked why I did that, I remember replying, “Because I feel like I am never gonna have this baby. I’ll always be pregnant.” People who have since passed on are playing pieces on that game. I take the things out of that game every once and a while and remember all our laughs.

A few years ago, I made another one, showing my two kids and those family members we still have. It’s another time capsule that my children’s children will get out and play and listen to stories about. It’s a wonderful testament to our closeness as a family and the sense humor we all have.

If this DIY is too difficult for you, look below for “Make your own Monopoly kits”

Here’s how to make your personal Family-opoly:

You need:

Clear Contact Paper


Colored Pencils


An Old Monopoly Game

Paper: white, and three other colors (car stock works well for the other colors)



  1. The box: Recover the box with paper and clear contact paper.  The Monopoly game should now say your family’s name. For instance: “Smith-opoly -The High Stakes Game of Our Family History!”  Have the kids help you decorate it. Make sure the clear contact paper goes on smooth and covers all the edges because this will be a well worn game!
  2. Make playing pieces: We drew each of our family members, colored them with colored pencils and then put contact paper over them and cut them out. Make the pieces look like your family member as they are right now- bad hair cut and all!game10
  3. Make the playing board: Recover the board with paper (use white so you can slightly see through it). Trace over the squares below, but fill in your own places (more on this in next step below).game11
  4. For “Jail”: come up with a place that everyone either hates to go (like the dentist) or, better yet, a place that has some rough memories. For us, we used a hospital I was in for several weeks. It’s super theraputic, trust me.
  5. For “Railroads”: Use your family’s houses like “Scott’s Apartment”
  6. For “Utilities”: Do family pets (or cars). My father always groaned when he ‘bought’ our mischievous dog!
  7. For “Property”: We used places we loved to go. For instance, the side where we had Scott’s apartment, that row was all places he liked to go.game6
  8. For “Free Parking”: We used Disney World because my family loved it there, but you choose your family’s favorite place
  9. Hazard/Bonus Cards: Also, on the board, you should one Hazard and one Bonus Place where you would normally pick up a card.
  10. Orange Hazard Cards: Orange Hazard Cards were the worst! These were all funny, but terrible things that happened to us. Mostly, they were our dogs destroying something! For example: “Maddie, the dog, just ate the harp. Pay $45 to fix it!” That was an actual event and amount that my Dad had to pay when Maddie chewed up his gorgeous harp. Think of things like that- your brother’s car breaking down, etc. (That money goes into the middle of the board and the player gets it when they hit “Free Parking” (or for us, it was Disney World). game5
  11. White Bonus Cards: These are the good things that happened! Did your sister win a beauty contest? Put that and her winnings on that card!game2
  12. Real Estate Cards: These are the cards a player gets when they buy a property. Just use the real estate cards you already have and change the name on them to match the board.game4
  13. Hotels and houses: You don’t have to do this, but we went a little further and changed these to ice cream scoops and sundaes (the sundaes were hotels) because my family loves ice cream.game1

Above all, make it funny! This should be something that your family loves to play and treasure forever!



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