Game nights are nothing new. Perhaps your parents or grandparents gossiped over a few games of gin rummy or weekly poker gatherings? Before the widespread proliferation of digital video games, board games were a go-to way to have fun. Board games surged in popularity once again during the pandemic, and with people able to gather together in person again, this rediscovered pastime is the perfect way to spend time with family and friends.
Game nights are perfect for both adults and children, but the logistics of hosting may change slightly with the generations. Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your next gathering.
The number of players matters
How many people are invited to game night will determine the games that can be played. Game nights tend to be more successful with a guest list between four and eight players. Keeping people engaged in a game can be more challenging if there are more than eight individuals, and most games are designed for a maximum of eight players.Pick a theme
Unite all elements of the game night by selecting a theme. For example, if you will be pulling out the classic game Operation, pre-purchase inexpensive lab coats or doctors’scrubs for participants to wear. Have fun and serve foods shaped like various body parts (borrow from some Halloween ideas) and invite guests with an invitation that serves as a “Prescription for Fun.”Choose a good time
Even though “game night” implies the gathering takes place in the evening, choose a time that works best for most. Perhaps meeting directly after school or work aligns better with everyone’s schedule. Take turns hosting.
If you’re hosting a game night for children, bring the kids along to the store to select board games and other activities that appeal to them. Explain that the evening will be dedicated to non-electronic games.
Take it outside
“Games” encompass a wide array of activities. Organize a pick-up wiffle ball game in the cul-de-sac or a bocce tournament. Families with pools can rotate hosting pool games, which can include volleyball, diving games or Marco Polo.
Get out of your comfort zones
Acting zany and engaging in games that push people out of their comfort zones can help guests get to know one another and laugh along the way. Games also are a perfect way to learn something new with little to no pressure.
Plan in advance
Know what everyone will be playing before guests arrive to cut down on arguments over which games to play, which only wastes time.
It’s best to avoid complicated games so no time is wasted explaining the rules to novices. Many adults are familiar with the rules of poker, so keep some decks of cards and chips on hand in the event guests want to play a round. Additional games that do not require too great a familiarity with the rulebook include Scrabble and Monopoly. Hosts also can consider something a little more sinister like Cards Against Humanity if age-appropriate and the crowd is willing to play.
Food for thought
Game night participants are not expecting a meal, so hosts need not feel responsible for preparing or catering a dinner. However, snacks typically are made available during game night. Charcuterie boards, cheese, chips, pretzels and even some healthy fare like vegetables and hummus can be offered so no one goes hungry during game night.
Simplicity also reigns supreme when picking which drinks to serve during game night. Non-alcoholic drinks like water, soda, lemonade, and iced tea should be readily available, especially if children are participating. Beer and wine can be offered to guests who want a drink, but hosts must be sure to avoid overserving guests.
Set the mood
Some music playing in the background can loosen things up and help to establish a relaxed atmosphere. Hosts should keep in mind that it’s best to avoid turning the television on, as a show or movie playing in the background can distract guests from the games and lead to less mingling.
Make sure there’s ample lighting available in the game room but don’t make things too bright. Slightly dimmed lights can set a welcoming tone and create a relaxed vibe. Comfortable seating also helps to create a pleasant atmosphere that can make guests feel right at home.