Game Night Party Tips

When it gets too chilly for a pool party or a backyard bbq, it’s time to rethink your entertaining to keep a big group happy indoors. How about a Game Night? No need to turn your home into a casino (though if you’ve ever seen the Bingo room at Foxwoods, if may be tempting), just pull out the Bananagrams, serve some food and drink, and let the conversation—and friendly competition—flow. Here’s how to make it work.

Tapas style appetizers

Prep the Day Before

As much as you can, make your food and drink ahead of time so you’re not slaving away in the kitchen while your friends are there. Skip the sit-down meal and load everyone up on appetizers instead—let’s call it tapas-style. Toasted nuts, a serve-cold dip and mini sandwiches are all good options. And when it comes to beverages, I love a punch or sangria for a crowd.

Floor pillows

Set the (Coffee) Table

Gather your crowd in the living room—and accommodate accordingly. Stack napkins next to every dish and leave copious coasters in plain view. If you’re going to be playing your games on the coffee table, put only easy clean-up food there and put the dips and sticky stuff on side tables to avoid a mess. When it comes to glassware, short and sturdy does the trick (stemware is a hazard as the stakes get high!). Haul in chairs from the dining room and throw a few pillows on the floor for extra seating.

Stack of games

Offer a Selection

Not every guest has the chops for Charades, the cultural knowledge for Trivial Pursuit or the patience for Monopoly. Have a few different options ready, from highbrow to low, and let your guests vote on the one they feel like playing (two other favorites for adults: Celebrity and Cards Against Humanity). If kids are in the crowd, consider setting up a few stations with age-appropriate games (Apples to Apples, Connect Four, Snakes & Ladders, Sorry) to avoid a tussle if someone doesn’t feel like sharing.

Playing card games

Keep it Friendly

Know your guests’ limits when it comes to how much booze they can consume before it gets ugly—and whether spouses need to be on the same team or broken up for the night. Establish a few ground rules before starting (no name-calling, no shouting) and don’t force people to keep playing when they’re visibly bored. Nothing’s less fun than being forced to play on!

Photo credits: Nicole Franzen, Stagetecture, Devonshire Arms, Quinto.

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