How to Host the Perfect Game Night

Trista - December 13, 2019

Being an adult doesn’t mean that you have to give up having fun. It just might mean that fun becomes redefined. Reinvent family game night into game night with a group of friends. What a perfect way to unwind and let loose after a long week at work. Spruce up the night with some homemade food and drinks to indulge in while playing a variety of games.

Not a professional party planner? No biggie because we got you covered with the best tips and tricks to make your game night the best experience… until next week.

Create your party list first. Pixabay

Who To Invite

The first problem to solve when it comes to party planning is who among your friends to invite. You want to produce the best experience possible. The number of people to call over directly correlates to how much room you have for people to socialize comfortably. If your gaming space offers room for a large group, it may be a neat idea to set up multiple gaming stations and have your guests move about the room as the night wears on. Another idea, if you can accommodate a large group, is to play a plethora of team games: this way, no one is left out, and friends can be paired up.

Having a small space does not exclude you from the fun. This may be the perfect environment to host a party with a few other couples. Have couples switch partners and have a bit of fun playing a few competitive board games. If you happen to belong to the single’s club, have no fear: simply invite over a few good friends who wouldn’t mind playing board games that do not require teams, such as Monopoly or Scrabble.

Keep in mind that inviting an even number of people is the best option, just in case you decide to play games that require teams. Another good tip here is to invite friends that are passionate about playing board games: you can easily tell when someone is not enjoying themselves or not putting in an effort. Avoid this by inviting the right people!

Pick a time that works for most people. Pixabay

Figure Out A Time To Host

Game night is a social event that can be held at any time during the year, but finding an evening that works best for you and your guests depending on schedules. Only you know what will work for you and your guests.

Outdoor events are more enjoyable during the summer and spring months, but if you are planning an indoor soiree, you can choose whatever night fits best. Larger events would need to take more planning, so consider sending out an email, text, phone, or Facebook event invite to ensure that everyone saves the date for your game night.

Think of a way to keep everyone happy. Pixabay

The Goal Of The Night

While this may seem a little odd, establishing a goal before the night begins may help to avoid disasters. The goal may change depending on who you invite over for the evening. Say you met a few new friends and want to start establishing a deeper connection: your goal of the night might be just to get everyone laughing and relaxed. If you bring over a group of friends from your past, it might not be a bad idea to want to establish a goal of catching up or deepening the relationship.

The simplest games can be the most fun. Pixabay

The Games

The second most important element of the night: the games. This idea is directly linked to who you are inviting to the shenanigans. Although this was touched on slightly previously, some details are worth mentioning. Small groups would do well with simple board games or even card games if the mood is right. Larger groups, again, would do better with games that require teams: however, be warned against team games that require written responses or that involve a lot of moving pieces and parts. Highly interactive team games tend to be big hits at game night.

It may not be a bad idea to get some input from the guests when choosing a game. Try sending out a mass text message asking guests what types of games they want to see a few days before the event is to take place. If you have some games in mind, send out a list to have your friends choose from.

Who doesn’t love Scrabble? Pixabay

Bring On The Classics

You do not have to reinvent the wheel when you are coming up with what to play for your game night. Several board games are favorites for a reason. Nearly everyone has a fond memory growing up with playing a game of Monopoly, Risk, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, or Sorry. These games are classics for a reason.

They are not only easy to play, but many people already know the rules before you even get started. Make your game night a nostalgic one with a lineup that includes these favorites. Your guests will enjoy the throwbacks, and new memories can be made over a night of game night fun.

Test your pop culture knowledge. Pixabay

Movie-Themed Games

If you are looking for other kinds of games to include in your night of fun, you can never go wrong with ones centered on the cinema. Movies are popular topics because many people have at least a passive understanding of what goes on the big screen.

Movie ID is a simple game night idea that is patterned off of “Name That Tune” only it is based on films instead. The only items you would need to play this game are notecards and a buzzer or bell. Participants are to try and guess the title of a movie without mentioning any of the words in that title. Slips can be sounded off using the buzzer. The team with the most right answers wins the game!

Just don’t ask anyone to sing. Pixabay

Music Games

Another popular topic for games is music for much the same reason. Nearly each one of your guests has come across different forms of popular music and songs at some point in their lives. “How Do You Doo?” requires paper and a timer. Each team selects a singer who is given the title of a song.

The singer is then to “sing” the tune by only using the word “doo.” No acting will be allowed. Members of the team are to guess the title and artist within a limited amount of time. The singer can skip a song and move on to another tune before time runs out.

It’s not as easy as you think. PicSpree


Charades is a classic game that most people are familiar with. The party word guessing game was originally a form of literary riddle that was popular in France during the 1800s. Using only their hand motions, participants try to get their team members to guess a secret word, phrase, or title before time runs out.

Another twist on the classic would be to play reverse charades, where teams are tasked with acting out suggestions on a card for one person to guess. The interesting take can make for some hilarious guessing as the member tries to decide what team member is giving him the best clue to the right answer.

How good are you at guessing? Pixabay

Guessing Games

Spontaneity is a must during game night, and the best games require its participants to think quickly. One game suggestion is Sporcle, where all you need is a list of things that fall into a particular category.

The object of the game is to have everyone line up in front of the room and let them know what the first category is. The first person must name something that falls into that category within five seconds. If they are not able to answer the question, then they are out.

Put the kids to bed. Pixabay

Adult Games

While you can have a few games that were enjoyed as a kid, there are several games on the market right now that are considerably much more adult. They are best suited for a game night where sarcasm and dirty humor can be appreciated.

Some of these games include Cards Against Humanity, That’s What She Said, Joking Hazard, What Do You Meme? And Drunk, Stoned, and Stupid. According to many of the reviews for these games, the participants were in stitches based on some of their fellow contestant suggestions!

See who has the most creative answer. Pixabay

Creative Options

Another creative answer game is titled “Would You Rather?” The objective of this game is for players to move to one side or the other depending on what their preference is between two particular options.

For example, the announcer could ask if the group would rather live the city or in the country. Those who like rural life would congregate on one side while those urban life dwellers would move to the other. The options can start basic and move into more random, and thought-provoking as the game progresses.

Be as random as you want. Pixabay

The Game Of Things

Another option for a spontaneous game is called “Things,” and it requires very few materials for hilarious answers. It is similar to “The Game of Things,” only you are able to come up with the questions. One participant is chosen as “It,” and he is to make a statement that will have a thing as an answer. For example, the suggestion could be “Things You Shouldn’t Do While You Are Asleep.”

All of the other contestants are to write down their answers, which are then collected, and the person who is selected as “It” is to read them aloud. The next point of the game is to match up the person with his own answer and to continue until there is just one person left. It can be fun to see what all of your guests come up with!

You don’t have to play for real money. Pixabay

Poker Night

It may seem a bit cliche, but don’t knock a classic popular game night activity. It has been around for a long time! Some historians have traced the origins of poker to a domino card game that was once played by the 10th-century Chinese emperor. Others state the game came from the Persian card game As Nas.

Poker has seen something of a resurgence in recent years. The poker boom may have peaked in 2006, but there are games played throughout the country. Texas Hold ‘Em is a particularly popular form of the card game.

There are plenty of card games other than poker. MaxPixel

Other Card Games

If you are not into incorporating poker games into your game night, there are several other kinds of card games to choose from. Knockout is a popular British card game that can be played with two and seven players.

All you need to play is a deck of 52 cards. The Ace is considered a high number. Each player is given seven cards, while the remaining cards become the trump suit. Each player places the first card, and the other players follow their lead and suit if they can. The highest trump suit card wins the trick.

Everyone loves a rousing game of musical chairs.

Free Game Options

Some of the best games to play during a game night do not have to cost any money at all. The best part about these kinds of games is that it lets your guests shine throughout the entire game. One game is “Never Have I Ever,” which is similar to the popular children’s game musical chairs. This game is best with at least a dozen guests.

The chairs are to be arranged in a circle looking forward. Everyone sits, and one person stands in the middle. The middle participant announces something that they have never done and everyone who has to get up and find an unoccupied chair. The one left standing returns to the middle for the next “never” declaration.

Cornhole is always fun. MaxPixel

Do-It-Yourself Backyard Ideas

If you are planning an outdoor game night, you can easily incorporate other games using do-it-yourself items. Many of these ideas resemble their smaller board game counterparts, so many of the rules will not have to be explained beforehand.

A few of the options for this outdoor game night include backyard scrabble, backyard “Angry Birds,” do-it-yourself Jenga, outdoor Kerplunk, and cardboard Battleship. Most popular board games can be adapted to a larger scale for the outdoors, so use your imagination and bring a bigger — and possibly better — alternative to your next get together.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. MaxPixel

Other Popular Games

If you want to incorporate some popular games into your game night experience, there are many on the market now that will help bring the evening up a notch. Suggestion games like Apples 2 Apples, Taboo, and Outburst are fun options because they allow for personality to be added into the game.

The fun part about these games is that it allows your guests to laugh at some of the suggestions that each one comes up with. You can get a great sense of everyone’s personalities with each round of each game.

Small food is easy to eat without making a mess. Pixabay

Plan The Perfect Menu

While the games are the center stage for the action, the menu is just as important to plan. Game nights are typically casual, so a buffet option can be an easy and carefree way to serve food. An assortment of appetizers and finger foods are often popular because they allow your guests to fill up their plates in between matches.

The best two options for food at family game night is to either do a potluck, where everyone brings their own dish, or you could take on the task yourself and provide all refreshments alone. Eating together will be just as entertaining as playing games together as you catch up with old friends or start establishing new connections. Expect your game night to run a few hours, so again, make sure there is enough food set up for the whole evening. Also, make sure to include foods that absorb alcohol as guests may be partaking in some drinks and are expected to drive home at the end of the night.

Laying food out in buffet style may be the best option: it allows for guests to come and go as they please, even while the games are being played. As for an actual dinner course, it is really up to the host if they want to go through all that extra trouble. This concept may be a good idea for a small group of friends, but may not be as feasible with larger groups. Usually, appetizers and finger foods are adequate to keep everyone satisfied.

Here is the pitfall for having an entire dinner course: usually, the eating and conversations last so long that the night wears on, and it becomes too late to start the actual festivities. Everyone wants to have seconds and dessert, and while catching up with old friends can be a great way to spend an evening, it is not the intention and main goal of game night. Best stick with the buffet table and finger foods. You may want to style your buffet table with tiered platters to increase your use of space and to bring more options to the table.

Don’t get too fancy for game night. MaxPixel

Glassware and Flatware

It is best to provide glassware that is not easily broken during a night of game play. Acrylic is a great alternative to glass: it is sturdy yet unbreakable. This tip suits you the best if you are planning on having your board games played outdoors. Accidents happen and cannot be predicted, so why not stop something from happening? If you want to save yourself from doing a ton of dishes after guests leave, you could also use plastic or paper cups.

If you are handing out glassware to everyone, it may not be such a bad idea to give each guest their flatware (a fork and a knife will be sufficient). While this may seem too excessive if you are just serving finger foods, the utensils may help keep hands clean, so the games stay clean as a result.

Want to encourage your guest to graze on food instead of having an entire meal? Try controlling portion sizes by setting out salad plates in place of full-size dinner plates. The smaller plates also help to conserve space in the area in which games are being played.

Depending on your number of guests, arrange seats so that everyone can see everyone. Pixabay


Seating is so critical a component of the night that it warrants its own section. You have a few options to work with that correlates directly to the space you have to work with.

One option is to line up pillow cushions on the floor around a coffee table for a smaller group of folks. For a larger group, it may be helpful to use a larger table, such as the one you might put in your dining room and use chairs instead of pillows.

If you want to stay in the comfy living room setting, try pulling up some of the room furniture around the coffee table so everyone can be completely comfortable. Coffee tables tend to give off a more relaxed look over a dining room table: the former is less formal than the latter and more easily sets the mood for a fun evening. Don’t forget the coasters for those drinks!

Stay on task, but be flexible with your schedule. MaxPixel


Keeping everything on a schedule ensures that the entire evening runs according to plan. It might be a good idea to have everyone start with food and drink, to get the jitters out and have time for some conversations. This part also allows for the stragglers to come in and makes guests feel like they aren’t being rushed.

Since game night tends to last a few hours, it may not be a bad idea to take a break in the middle to give everyone a chance to stretch their legs. This break can be taken after every game, or it can be done about halfway through the night. A break gives guests the chance to use the restroom and stock up on food and drink. This idea is also a good spot for people to leave who might have kids or who may have plans for the next day.

It may also be a good idea to announce to the gang when you are beginning the last game. This way, everyone knows when the night should be expected to end, and you have no awkward moments of trying to get your guests to leave at the end of the night.

Make sure everyone is having fun. MaxPixel


Another important aspect of the night is setting the mood, so all guests are comfortable and enjoy themselves. While this is not the type of event that requires a ton of decoration, some elements can be added to set the tone for the night. Music is a simple solution to setting the scene: pick something that most people in your group will enjoy. If everyone enjoys their own genre, then create a playlist that has a little something for everybody.

Other great suggestions for creating an ambient space are placing flowers around the room for both sight and smell, light some candles or incense and try to place comfy pillows around the area of game play. If you have guests who suffer from allergies, it is also possible to acquire fake flowers to add a pop of color without agitating someone’s sinuses. Another word of advice: make sure the bathroom is stocked up on supplies to avoid an embarrassing situation. Also, make sure there is ample lighting in the space where the games will be played.

Setting the mood is entirely dependent upon the group you are inviting. Some guests find it distracting to have music playing while trying to play games while others enjoy the background noise. If you have overly excitable guests, candles may not be such a good idea: you do not want a guest to knock down a candle and set fire to anything flammable.

Having a theme can make it fun. MaxPixel

Pick A Theme — Or Not

One of the best party planning ideas is coming up with a theme to go with your evening. Game nights are no exception, and you can easily find something on Pinterest or come up with your own clever spin on themes. A nineties night can be accomplished with classic games from the decade along with a playlist from Pandora or Spotify. You can also dress up your buffet table with puns to go along with the food options.

If you cannot think of an idea that suits your company, don’t sweat it. A no-theme themed party can be just as successful, and you can be freed up to enjoy the activities that you have planned with your guests.

People can break off into small groups if they’re no longer interested in games. MaxPixel

Keep Everyone Interested

The overall theme of this article seems to be tips that keep guests at the table playing games, which is the ultimate goal of any game night. If you plan on hosting activities outside, it may be beneficial to put plans in place to combat the cold: think about providing throw blankets for your guests if the forecast calls for a chilly night. Even indoors, some people feel more comfortable covered in a blanket, and that is the end goal: to make your guests as comfortable as possible.

Prizes don’t have to be expensive. MaxPixel

Game Night Prizes

What a fun way to end the evening! While the night wears on, keep track of which individual or couple wins the most games. At the end of the night, hand out a silly little prize to the overall winner. You could even give something to the second and third place contestants.

An easy, simple idea? Try buying some cheap scratch-offs from the store as an incentive to keep coming back. Even winning a few dollars can feel rewarding. And even if your ticket is a dud, it was still fun doing all that scratching! Plus, if the winner has a big winning ticket, they will never forget your party for years to come.

Bend a few rules to make it more fun. MaxPixel

Gaming Guidelines

Creating rules for the night can help things move smoothly and keep everything in order. Also, it doesn’t leave anything to interpretation from guests and possibly sparks an argument. Maybe your rules for the night are more like suggestions you would like your guests to follow. Or you could be more rigid and expect guests to follow every rule to the letter. This part is really up to you and the group you have invited. Make sure your rules leave everyone feeling comfortable and respected.

A good rule is to follow the rules of a particular game as they should be played. But sometimes there are rules that the group has decided are unfair and simply do not want to follow. If the whole group can agree on it, maybe you all decide to fudge some of the rules or simply ignore them. It is all about reading the room and catering to the needs of your guests. Try making this decision at the outset of a game so that the rules are congruent throughout the play. This concept also keeps arguments to a minimum.

You can also decide to make a rule excluding players from using their phones throughout the night. This plan keeps the whole group focused on the game at hand and not their screens. It may be tempting to pull out a cellular device when a player is making an exceptionally long turn: try taking everyone’s phone and placing them in a safe space for the duration of the night. Make sure that the whole group agrees to this before confiscating phones. Some individuals may have children to check up on and may not feel comfortable surrendering their phone for that long.

It should be a night of fun, not anger. Pixabay

Have Fun With It

The most important part about any game night experience is to have fun. You want the night to be as enjoyable as it can. Not every game is going to go over, and you should not despair if your guests are not getting too involved. This notion is why it is a good idea to have an assortment of options to mix and match and find what works best for the group.

After the evening is over, you can ask your guests what they would like to see for the next planned evening. If it works out well, this could be a regular social event that you and your guests can look forward to every time you play.