Hosting the Perfect Game Night

By: Joe Thompson

You've heard the story or maybe said it yourself: "I'm so tired of going out to the bars! We should host some kind of game night instead."

But then when it comes to actually putting a night together it never seems to work out. Game nights inevitably seem like too much work.

Never fear, because we've simplified the situation with 10 tips that will make planning and execution easy, and the results a solid success.

1. Decide the game and make sure guests know in advance what they’re getting themselves into. (Don’t spring a stripping or drinking game on them without some warning.) Classics like poker, Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit are great, but know your audience. If they find these games intimidating or tend to be highly competitive, find one that will keep the evening light.

2. Invite new people. Get your core group of friends—the ones whose opinion you trust— to bring one other newbie to the crowd. It expands your crowd and creates conversation.

3. Make sure you’re stocked up with cups, napkins, chairs, etc. Game nights get derailed when someone suddenly needs to rush to the store, and it's tough to get people focused again after a break.

4. Refreshments are tricky. Avoid sticky food or items that can crumble everywhere. Pizza is practically synonymous with “game night,” but it might not be on everyone's diets. Suggest a potluck if you want to mix the mood and save some cash.

5. Turn the TV off. It's distracting and will work against your original goal of meeting new people and enjoying their company.

6. Know the game inside and out. As the host of the party, you’re ostensibly the referee, and may be called upon to make difficult decisions.

7. Serving cocktails? Okay, that was a dumb question... But here's a great suggestion: Use pitchers. It reduces players’ time away from the game, and it’s far more convenient for everyone involved (and less mess for you.)

8. Avoid drama. The night is supposed to be fun, so go with the flow. If someone makes a mistake, laugh it off and set that tone for the other guests. This shouldn't be about creating IStock_000007559338Smallcompetition, but instead creating community.

9. Lead by example. Offer everyone a drink or food when they arrive. Start conversations and make sure everyone is introduced and engaged in the evening before the games begin, and you have a great foundation to build upon.

10. Have a back up plan. If the initial game doesn't work out you may have to scrap it and find a second one. The party may simply evolve into a cocktail or house party instead. That's fine. The whole point is to hang out and have fun with your friends, so don't try to force the game night. Let it be the basis for starting the night, and allow everything else to unfold organically.