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 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 game night is going to be your new favorite way to spend a Saturday night—trust us. Keep reading for six tips on hosting the best game night ever. We guarantee it will become a tradition.
Invite the Right Number
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.
Serve a Specialty Cocktail or Craft Beer
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. Save the Coors Light for football season.
Fake a Fancy Meal
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 mushroom with truffle oil, that no one will know you didn’t make from scratch.
Serve Elevated Snacks
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.
Clear Your Coffee Table
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.
When All Else Fails, Go Back to Basics
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.
Game Night Classics
Have you ever hosted a home game night? What are your favorite games to play with friends? Tell us in the comments.
This post was originally published in September 2016 and has since been updated.