Host the Perfect Board Game Night
If you’re looking for a party idea that is easy to organize, inexpensive, fun for a wide range of ages, and a guaranteed icebreaker for everyone invited, then look no further than a board game night. Get together the right bunch of friends, and the laughter will be flowing all evening long. A game night combines all the right elements: fun people, food and drinks, an activity to focus on, and plenty of opportunity for laughter and socializing.
Getting Ready for Game Night
Your first decision is the date and time of your party. Weekend evenings are usually best, leaving plenty of time for game playing without the worry of work in the morning. You want to give guests at least a week’s notice, so choose a date more than a week away.
Pick your guest list carefully. Not everyone likes board games, and not everyone is outgoing and fun in a group. Your best choices for a game party are those friends that are willing to laugh at themselves, think and speak quickly, get along with everyone and aren’t obsessively competitive.
Before sending out the invitations, give some thought to your party night. What games are you considering? You don’t want anything too complicated, or that takes hours to play. The best board games for a night of fun are easy to learn, rely on a combination of luck and skill, are quick to play, and are funny or engaging. Some great choices include:
- Trivial Pursuits
- Apples to Apples
- Catch Phrase
Game nights are casual affairs, so no need for formal, mailed invitations. An online invitation site like Evite.com makes it easy to track whom you have invited, who is coming, and who sends regrets. Be sure to make clear that board games are the theme of the evening, and give your guests an idea of what food you will be serving.
Party Food for Game Night
The casual atmosphere of a board game night lends itself well to a potluck gathering. You might choose to provide the main course, and ask guests to bring side dishes. Set up a table for the food and drinks, and stick with foods that don’t require fussing in the kitchen and aren’t messy or difficult to eat. The easiest and always popular choice is to have pizza delivered. Other favorite main course food selections include:
- Slow-cooker stews
- Chinese chicken salad
- Chicken or meatball skewers
Good choices for snacks and side dishes are:
- Bread with spinach dip
- Deviled eggs
- Hummus with pita bread
- Fruit skewers
- Chips and pretzels
- Brownies or cookies
Decide in advance if you will serve alcoholic drinks. If so, have beer and wine on hand, or choose cocktails that can be made in a pitcher ahead of time. You don’t want to waste valuable playing time mixing drinks at the bar. Remember to have sparkling cider, lemonade or soda for your non-drinking guests.
Get Ready on Party Day
Anytime you are hosting a party, you want to be sure and have your bathroom clean and presentable, with a fresh towel, lit candle and toiletries stowed out of sight. Your kitchen also needs to be clean and ready to serve food and drinks. Vacuum the rest of the party area, and put away any clutter, misplaced items or tripping hazards. Be sure the walkway to your front door is free from hoses, kid’s toys or anything else that could cause a stumble.
If you have pets that aren’t fond of strangers or socializing, plan to keep them secured in a back bedroom or the yard. Small pets such as hamsters, rabbits or guinea pigs might be stressed by the hubbub, so stow their cages somewhere quiet and secluded.
There’s no need for elaborate decorations, but if you want to add a festive, inexpensive flair, purchase one or two dozen helium-filled latex balloons, and let them drift up against the ceiling over the playing area.
Once your guests arrive, let them circulate while the food is set out, then have everyone gather in the playing area. Be assertive, and get your guests settled down to play, otherwise the evening will slip away before the games begin.
Once your guests are at the playing table, you can let everyone vote on the first game to play, or pull rank as the host and announce the first game. Be certain you thoroughly understand the game’s rules, and can explain them before play begins. During the game, if there is a dispute over the rules, you should be willing and able to serve as the games master, and establish proper playing decorum.
Plan on switching through at least two games, more if your guests request it, the party stretches on into the wee hours, or you feel the need for a change. In between games, guests can refresh their drinks and plates of food.
Make sure everyone is having fun. If one guest is carried away with the competition, gently tone them down in a humorous way. Likewise, don’t let one guest monopolize the game, or one guest take the brunt of the teasing. You want a good time to be had by all, so keep an eye on the general mood of the party.
When you feel it’s time to wind things down, announce in advance that the next round is the last one for the evening. All good things must come to an end, after all, even a great night spent laughing and socializing with friends. Your guests will probably have so much fun, some of them will be inspired to host game nights of their own, and it might become a monthly tradition in your social circle.