How to Host a Grown-Up Game Night

Updated 05/30/18

There are a million things to do with friends, but most of us opt for the same old, same old. While there’s nothing wrong with falling back on tried-and-true plans like grabbing drinks or catching a movie, we’re going to suggest planning a get-together that’ll break up your usual normal routine. The next time you’re scheduling quality time with your pals, why not shake things up and offer to host an at-home game night?

With these great adult game night ideas, the right mood, and a little bit of alcohol, you’d be surprised how fun and raucous playing good old-fashioned games with friends can get. At once intimate and interactive, staying in for a game night is going to be your new favorite way to spend a Saturday evening—trust us. Keep reading for six tips on hosting the best game night ever (along with some of our go-to party games for adults). We guarantee it will become a tradition.

Invite the Right Number

party games for adults
Heidi's Bridge

If you’ve ever tried to play Balderdash with three people, you know it’s possible but pretty anticlimactic and really just not much fun. Most games need a critical cohort of about five people to really feel festive and exciting, but too big a group and the games become unwieldy. Try inviting between five and eight friends, as it’s rare that every person you invite can make it.

Mark & Graham Rustic Leather Card Box, Double Set $50

Serve a Specialty Cocktail or Craft Beer

drinks to serve on game night
Mitzy at Home

Whip up a special drink in honor of the evening’s festivities in one large batch in advance, so you’re not stuck on bartender duty. Game night is not the time to play mixologist, as constant breaks will interrupt the flow and make things less enjoyable for everyone. Mulled wine is the perfect winter drink to prepare prior to guests’ arrival for a cozy evening at home. Check out this awesome recipe for mulled wine, pictured above, here. For an even easier option, buy festive flavors of canned ales from local breweries.

marble chess game
CB2 Marble Chess Game $100

Fake a Fancy Meal

food to serve on game night
Half Baked Harvest

Another thing you don’t want to be doing during a game night is cooking. Gourmet flatbreads involving seasonal flavors like butternut squash, sage, caramelized onions, apples, blue cheese, and bacon will wow your friends with minimal effort. Simply throw the pizzas together and pop them in the oven when people arrive. Sneaky tip: Trader Joe’s makes amazing frozen flatbreads and pizzas, like a mushroom with truffle oil pizza, that no one will know you didn’t make from scratch.

Kit & Ace 66 Boneyard Domino Set $48

Serve Elevated Snacks

snacks for game night
Half Baked Harvest

Snacks are essential for a successful game night. Make elevated versions of your go-to snacks with slightly more high-end ingredients: savory brown butter and rosemary popcorn, sweet vanilla and sea salt popcorn, or parmesan and herb cheese twists. We also like Half Baked Harvest’s recipe for antipasto skewers with kale pesto. Game night is supposed to be laid-back, but serving interesting bites shows a little more thought than pre-packaged snacks.

Deco Stacking Game
West Elm Deco Stacking Game $129

Clear Your Coffee Table

coffee table
Fantastic Frank

Hanging out around the coffee tables makes for a more informal affair than sitting upright around a dining table. Set up spots with pillows, blankets, and poufs for folks to gather around for communal game playing.

Pottery Barn Monopoly Luxury Edition $299

When All Else Fails, Go Back to Basics

party games for adults
Sarah Sherman Samuel

Games like Charades and Celebrity sometimes make for the most memorable evenings—and only involve people or pens and paper. Though a gorgeous, graphic version of Bingo is functional and pretty, great game nights can also stem from activities that involve nothing but people, like Two Truths and a Lie. When all else fails, bring out the childhood games you likely already own or that friends can bring over for a game night potluck of sorts, like Scrabble, Dominoes, and Monopoly.

Pottery Barn Scrabble Luxury Edition $199

This post was originally published in September 2016 and has since been updated.

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