As far as the typical adults-night-out setting goes, the bar has been a culturally ingrained social space for years (think Cheers and How I Met Your Mother). But the standard bar scene can get boring if it's the only setting on your social calendar, and trust us, there are plenty of fun things to do at a party other than hit the bar. For example, you could host a themed party at your home.
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. Not only will these get-togethers be memorable, but you'll likely learn more about your group's dynamics than you would waiting for the next round to arrive.
Here's our list of 20 fun things to do at a party to spark your creativity.
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
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?" Keep your standard bar food in the mix like pizza for a fun night.
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. Make sure to choose examples that everyone knows.
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- or Cheeseboard-Making 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. Or have each guest make a cheeseboard, laying out an assortment of cheeses, meat, fruits, and veggies, they can choose from. The person who creates the tastiest pizza or cheeseboard gets bragging rights.
The folks at Real California Milk recommend creating a cheeseboard to share: Opt for a sweet and savory cheese board, or one that's spicy, fresh, and fruity.
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 lounge around 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. Just don't forget the sunscreen.
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—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, coordinate 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 have a popcorn bar with sweet and salty mix-ins, 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' styles.
Host a Book Exchange
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?
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. If you're feeling ambitious, give awards at the end of the night a la Grammys for "Best Pop Solo" and the like.
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.