We LOVE game night! What’s more fun than gathering around a table playing games, drinking wine and laughing with friends? We’d totally take that over the usual dinner at a loud restaurant or a night dancing at a crowded club! Add in some game night themed bites and you have your new favorite way to spend a winter evening.
Board games and other party games are a great way for your friends to get to know one another. Games don’t require any small talk, and the best ones can allow people’s personalities to SHINE. A well planned game night will keep everyone laughing. With the right mood and the help of a little booze, even the most old-fashioned games can be lots of fun. Here are some tips to host a memorable game night.
Send out the Instructions for Game Night
We recommend going paperless and using online invitations. Evite, Punchbowl and Paperless Post offer a large selection of free and premium designs that are perfect for game night. Although Facebook invitations are not customizable, they are easy to create and distribute to your Facebook friends.
Select Games Ahead of Time
Certain games are perfect for a small group, and others are only fun with a large group. We recommend games that can be played by a large number of people (or a smaller number of pairs or teams), can be understood by a newbie fairly quickly, and don’t require sharing personal information with new friends. You may also want to avoid games like Scattergories or Boggle since they involve players thinking silently for the majority of the game. Focus on games with lots of interaction among players. Consider adding the following to your next game night:
- Cards Against Humanity
- Wits and Wagers
- Apples to Apples
- Beer Pong
Set up the Board Game
You should have enough seating for all your guests on a game night. To avoid spills and messes, we suggest having enough flat surfaces to set plates and drinks on. If you don’t have enough chairs, you can always arrange cushions and pillows on the floor. For our first Twinspirational Game Night, we rented a private room with a lot of seating that could comfortably accommodate 30 guests. We set up 4 different game stations, so that multiple games could be played simultaneously.
- Station 1: Scrabble, Jenga
- Station 2: Cards Against Humanity
- Station 3: Twister
- Station 4: Beer Pong
Decorate the Board Game
We selected a BOLD black, white and red color palette for our game night. You don’t have to go overboard on the decorations as the star of a game night should be the GAMES! For any party, consider adding some flowers, which can be as simple as a $10 arrangement from a grocery store or a single flower in mason jars. These decorative pieces can go a long way in terms of setting the scene. We LOVED taking nostalgic childish elements and elevating them for an adult audience. We placed a whimsical floral centerpiece on our buffet table, featuring beautiful black calla lilies, white lisianthks and red tulips. Our favorite part was filling the mason jars with DOMINOS! We decorated the dessert table with an adorable Let’s Play sign, a chess board, black calla lilies and the Candyland board game. The bar was adorned with another Let’s Play sign and glassware with game night themed drink tags. We even created custom food tents. The labels not only tell guests what they are eating (or drinking) but also add the perfect finishing touch.
Go Potluck and Get Creative with the Game Night Bites
Going potluck will make things easier for the host and also keep the party more budget friendly especially if it is a large event. Guests tend to bring foods that are easy to eat while playing games. As an added bonus, the amount of food will be more or less proportional to the number of guests who attend. We asked our guests to bring a game night inspired dish along with a bottle of wine (those who lack any culinary abilities were asked to bring 2 bottles of wine).
Kanchana displayed our game night menu on a Monopoly board, which featured:
- Jenga: assorted cheese rectangles
- Monopoly’s Mediterranean Avenue: Hummus, Grape Leaves, Baba Ghanoush
- Monopoly’s Oriental Avenue: Soba Noodles with Chicken and Dumplings
- Clue: Reverend Green’s Veggies
- Poker: Poker Chips, Salsa, Guacamole and Hummus
- Tic Tac Toe: Pizza
- Checkers: White and Pumpernickel Mini Square Sandwiches
- Hearts: Penne a la Hearts
- Pool: Pool Table Chicken Meatballs with Breadstick Pool Sticks
Create a Candyland Dessert Table
Every party needs a FABULOUS dessert table! It is always a crowd favorite whether your guests are 5 or 35! We kept the table decorations whimsical with a Let’s Play sign, an adorable printable chess board, black calla lilies and the Candyland board game on a burlap tablecloth. One of our guests even found us chocolate poker chips, which were sprinkled on the table. Normally we would match the colors of the desserts to our color scheme but this this time all the desserts were inspired by a board game. Our sweet tooth was more than satisfied after DEVOURING:
- Pool: Pool Table Cupcakes with Pirouette Pool Sticks
- Scrabble: Rice Krispies
- Checkers: Brazilian Sweets
- Dominos: Brownies
- Trivial Pursuit: Green Grapes, Red Grapes, Oranges, Blueberries, Strawberries, Pineapple
- Candyland: Poker Chip Candies, Jelly Beans and Chocolate Brittle
Add Some Whimsy to the Bar
We believe every party should have a signature cocktail. Guests had their choice of two specialty drinks: Cranium Cosmos and Kentucky Avenue Mint Juleps. We served the mint juleps in mason jars with adorable game night themed drink tags. We recommend whipping the drinks in one large batch in advance. Game Night is not the time to play bartender, as constant breaks will interrupt the flow of the games. We also served Miss Scarlet Wine and Mrs. White Wine.
Here are some additional board game tips to make your game night a success:
- Don’t Plan to Start Games for at Least an Hour. Game time was 6pm but we actually started our first game at 7:30pm. Expect some guests to be late and dedicate some time for guests to introduce themselves to new people, catch up with others and fill up on food. Your first game should accommodate a changing number of players as some guests show up late and others may only stay for the first hour. Consider starting with a team game like Charades where people can join or leave without throwing a wrench into the game.
- Know and Explain the Rules of Each Game. Make sure you (or someone else) understands the rules of each game. This may require looking over the rules in advance or while guests are grabbing food or drinks in between games. Even if everyone has played the game before, we recommend reviewing the basics to make sure the players are familiar with the house rules.
- Have an End Point for Each Game. Some games have a clear finish at the end while others rely on scorekeeping. Determine ahead of time what will constitute the end of the game so it doesn’t drag on indefinitely. But be flexible, too, if it’s the end of the night and people are getting tired, it may be time for the last round.
- Plan for the Effects of Booze. Alcohol can make some games even funnier. You should keep this mind when planning the order of the games. You may want to start with knowledge or critical thinking games like Trivial Pursuit or Wits and Wagers earlier in the evening and save the creative games like Cards Against Humanity and Jenga for later.
We had an amazing time at our first Twinspirational Game Night and can’t with for the next one!
“Life, like poker has an element of risk. It shouldn’t be avoided. It should be faced.”––Edward Norton