As far as the typical adults-night-out setting goes, a bar is an obvious setting. It usually has good music and a solid cocktail list. It generally doesn't require a fancy outfit, but it isn't against one, either. And a bar is an easy place to gather with friends when everyone wants to get together but no one wants to be responsible for cleaning their homes. We get it.
At the same time, though, the standard bar scene can get boring if it's the only setting on your social calendar. We've got a suggestion: Maybe, just maybe, it's worth it to host a themed party at your home occasionally. Before you let out an audible gasp, think about how fun it would be to have your friends show up in '90s gear for a dance party featuring hits from the decade, or to have them scattered around your neighborhood looking for clues during a scavenger hunt.
The truth is, we all owe it to ourselves to give our go-to bar a break and throw a party that shows off our imaginations. Not only will these get-togethers be far more memorable, but you're also likely to learn more about your group's dynamics than you would waiting for the next round to arrive. So here's a list of 20 fun things to do at a party to spark your creativity. Hopefully, these ideas will lead to many eventful nights to come.
Have a themed dance-off. Choose a decade, whether it's the '60s or the '90s, and create a playlist of hit songs from the era. Tell your friends to show up dressed in clothes from that time period, and have a dance party using historically accurate moves. For instance, if you choose the '60s, make sure everyone does "The Twist."
Plan an at-home trivia night. Make sure you invite enough people for designated teams and then have someone MC the trivia. If you're a close group of friends, mix in questions that are inside jokes. For example, "What's Stephanie's biggest fear?"
Opt for board games. If it's been a while since you've played classics like Sorry! and Life, invite a small group of friends over to have some innocent fun. Make sure the competition stays light and keep an eye out for any cheaters.
Turn your place into a casino. Bring the fun of blackjack or roulette to your living room by hiring a service that sets up the games—and the professional dealers—to your home. It's also fun to ask guests to show up in their Las Vegas best and to play some Sinatra while you're at it.
On a budget? Play charades. There's something endlessly entertaining about watching loved ones silently act out famous people, movies, and books.
Put on a scavenger hunt. While it's easy to set up clues for things in your home, it would be even more memorable if you created a scavenger hunt that covers a neighborhood. Break off into pairs, and see who collects all of the items first.
Throw a pizza party. Buy enough ready-made pizza dough for each guest, and set out a range of toppings—even unexpected toppings like peaches or fennel work. The person who creates the tastiest pizza gets bragging rights.
Ask everyone to bring their "signature dish." This idea is a twist on the standard potluck. Ask your friends to whip up the dish they're most comfortable making and have them bring it to the party for a feast of favorites. Be sure to get a list ahead of time so you can fill in any gaps, too.
Gather round a bonfire. If you have an outdoor space, set up a bonfire for friends to surround during a low-key, cozy party. Bring blankets and s'mores outside for the occasion, too.
Plan a picnic. Set this party up for a weekend afternoon, and ask friends to bring an assortment of brunch items. It'll be a fresh-air twist on your typical brunch order.
Set up a DIY bar. Instead of stressing about making cocktails for all of your guests, set up a bar that allows them to mix their own drinks. Make sure the bar has everything a mixologist would need—like a cocktail shaker, fresh citrus, and glassware—and it's sure to stand out.
Throw an ice cream social. If you'd rather throw a booze-free party, then try out a classic ice cream social instead. Ask everyone to bring a pint of ice cream, and set up a table of different toppings. Don't forget root beer, either, in case someone is in the mood for a root beer float.
Create an outdoor theater. Set up a projection screen in your backyard, which may just be the side of your house, and showcase a classic movie. Bonus points if you make popcorn, too.
Set up a backyard carnival. Yes, we know this is ambitious, but it also isn't impossible. A pyramid of decorated empty cans and a tennis ball is suddenly the classic milk bottle game, just as a few hooks and plastic rings can stand in for a ring toss. Get creative with your options—you can even give away tickets—and you'll create a memorable night.
Organize a clothing swap. Instead of meeting your friends for a regular shopping trip, ask them to bring pieces of clothing from their closets that they've grown tired of wearing. The clothes should all be clean and in good condition, and once they're laid out, everyone can take turns swapping pieces. It's an easy way to update your closet for free, especially if you envy your friends' style.
Do you have more books than clothes? Then swap those. If you have a collection of titles you know you'll never read again, then offer to trade them for the books your friends are finished with, too. This may even lead to an impromptu book club meeting.
Have a wine tasting party. Do a little research to find some under-the-radar labels to try, and then have your friends share their thoughts on their favorites. Who says you need to go to a winery?
Sing karaoke. Instead of heading to a karaoke bar, rent a machine to sing songs in the comfort of your own home. After all, it's easier to belt out Robyn when strangers aren't watching.
Tap into your inner artists. Set up small canvases, paint, and a "subject" in your living room, and invite friends to illustrate what they see. The subject can be as simple as a bowl of fruit, a more elaborate collection of items, or even a living thing—like a well-behaved dog.
Have a throwback slumber party. Invite friends over to relive all the fun parts about going to a sleepover, with none of the awkwardness. Paint nails, do facials, gossip, and watch movies like Clueless in your pajamas. The best part? Adults won't be yelling for you to go to sleep when it gets late.