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Hosting a game night is a great way to spend the some time with family and friends. It takes a bit of organising but it’s not too difficult! We’ve put together this guide to make sure you’ve got everything covered so you can plan the perfect game night.
What's So Great about Game Nights?
Game Night Guest List
Best Time for a Game Night
Friday and Saturday are usually the best days to host a game night. It’ll give you and your guests the chance you relax and have fun without worrying about having to go to work the next day.
The best time for a game night to start is around 7-8pm. It’s early enough that you have plenty of time to enjoy the night, but not too early that your guests won’t have time to get ready if they’re coming after work.
Aim for your game night to last around 3 hours. This is a good amount of time to play plenty of games, enjoy some great food and drinks and catch up with your friends.
The first half an hour or so shouldn’t involve any games. Just enjoy having a chat with your guests and offer them a drink. Then play a game or two and have some food. You can even have the food before starting the games if your party is later in the evening.
There are plenty games to consider playing at your game night. Here are our 6 favourites.
Charades is a game night classic. It’s great because you don’t need anything to set it up, it’s really easy to play and is funny to!
What You’ll Need:
- Just your guests!
How Long Does it Last? Approximately a few minutes per round
How to Play Charades:
- Each guest needs to get in a pair.
- One person in the pair thinks of a book, play or film usually, but it can be anything you choose, just make sure people know the categories.
- The player then tries to act it out without making any noise and their partner must guess what it is in under a minute.
- If they manage to, they earn a point.
- Some common clues used in charades are: pretending to read a book, pretending to crank a movie camera, and pretending to sing.
- You can hold up your fingers to indicate the number word you are trying to act out as well.
Cards Against Humanity
Cards Against Humanity is a really popular card game because it’ll get all your guests laughing. It’s really easy to play and is sure to go down well at your game night!
What You’ll Need:
- Cards Against Humanity Pack
How Long Does it Last? Usually around 20 minutes works well
How to Play Cards Against Humanity:
- Put all the cards in the middle and draw 10 white cards each. Don’t look at any other cards apart from your own.
- Someone reads the first black card out.
- The other players must answer the question using one of their cards.
- The person who selected the black card must read all the answers and pick their favourite.
- The person with the most points at the end wins!
Poker is an interesting card game to play at a game night. The key is to keep it casual, don’t start placing proper bets as it might suck the fun out of your game night and make it a bit too competitive! So keep it light-hearted and have fun!
What You’ll Need:
- Deck of cards
- A fairly large table
How Long Does it Last? Usually around 30 minutes
How to Play Poker:
- There are loads of different variations of poker that you can play so choose your favourite and make it as competitive as you like!
Jenga is a really fun game to play that doesn’t last very long. It is super easy to play and is always a favourite at game nights!
What You’ll Need:
- Jenga blocks
How Long Does it Last? Approximately 10 minutes
How to Play Jenga:
- Set up the tower by placing three blocks next to each other and then stack three blocks on top facing the other direction.
- Each couple must take it in turns to remove a block, but not one on the top row!
- Place the block on the top of the tower.
- Keep going until the tower topples over.
- The couple that knocks it over loses a point from their tally!
Pictionary is the perfect game for a game night. It’s a classic favourite for lots of people and has a great competitive edge.
What You’ll Need:
How Long Does it Last? Around 20 minutes
How to Play Pictionary:
- Get into pairs and choose who is the artist and who is guessing.
- The artist starts drawing a picture from a pre-selected secret list and their partner must guess what they are drawing.
- If they guess in under a minute, the pair earns a point.
Joking Hazard is a hilarious card game that’ll go down great at your game night! It’s not quite as well known as Cards Against Humanity, but it’s just as funny so definitely deserves a place at your party.
What You’ll Need:
- Joking Hazard Card set
How Long Does it Last? Around 15-30 minutes
How to Play Joking Hazard:
- Each player should be given 7 cards
- The starting player must pick a card from the pile remaining and lay it down on the table.
- If it has a black border, they can add the card before or after the card on the table.
- The other players must then add a card to finish the set. Whoever adds the card which makes the funniest set (chosen by the original player) wins a point!
- if the card picked has a red border, the other players must add two cards to make the set of three. Whoever makes the funniest set wins the point.
What do you Meme?
Everyone loves a good meme, and that’s why this card game is perfect for your game night!
What You’ll Need:
- What do you meme? card set
How Long Does it Last? 15-20 minutes
How to Play What do you Meme?
- Simply take it in turns to pick a photo card.
- The other couples must then choose a caption to match it.
- The funniest combination wins a point!
How Many Games Should you Play
Like we said earlier on, a game night should usually last around 3 hours. This will give you plenty of time for the games and food. Usually this means you should play around 3-5 games, but the exact number depends on how much time you want to spend chatting and relaxing.
We wouldn’t recommend playing any more than 5 games though. It’ll make your game night seem a bit rushed and intense if you’re trying to fit too many games in. After all, it’s just about having fun with your friends, so take time to enjoy their company too.
How to Choose the Games
You can either choose the games yourself or let your guests decide what they want to play. It’s usually best to organise which games you will play before the night though. This will stop you losing any time deliberating which game is the best to play.
If you’re letting your guests choose the games, send out an email or text for some suggestions or ask them to pick from a selection and then choose the favourites when everyone has responded. This will help to get everyone involved and make sure you keep all your guests happy.
Make Sure you Sort Some Food
Every great game night needs some food to go with it. Think about what time your party is. If it is before dinner time, you need to think about serving your guests a proper meal.
If you want to keep things really easy, you can always order a takeout. This is one a cheaper option because you can split the cost equally between your guests. There’s also the added bonus of it being very convenient and easy to sort if you’re planning your game night last minute. Just make sure you take into account the delivery time if you’re hosting on a Friday or Saturday night and don’t want to go out and collect it.
Another easy option, is to ask each guest to bring a dish and contribute. This will take the pressure of you having to organise everything, and will help keep the cost down too.
But if you want to go the extra mile, feel free to prepare the food yourself. Decide if you want to go for sit-down meal or buffet style food. If you are going for a casual buffer, then finger food is definitely a good option for larger groups, but make sure you don’t serve anything sticky!
Take a look at our ultimate guide to party food to help you figure out how to cater for your guests.
Game Night Main Meal Ideas
A pasta bake is a perfect batch meal for a game night. It’s really easy to make lots of it, and it doesn’t take too long either! There are some great variations too. Go for a classic Italian chicken pasta bake, or a lasagne. You could even try a fajita style pasta bake with peppers and a spicy Mexican sauce for a great twist on a classic dish.
Curries are perfect for game nights. They’re popular with pretty much everyone and again are great to make in batches. You can make a vegan friendly vegetable curry that’s sure to go down well with the other guests. Try not to make it too spicy though, unless you know that’s what everyone likes. Go for a classic Masala sauce if you want a safe but popular choice. Homemade curries are the best, but using a jar or paste will still make a great dish if you’re short of time.
Another classic option that’s perfect for making in batches. You can choose any type of casserole too, there’s loads of variation. From breakfast casseroles to a spicy beef taco casserole, there’s plenty of choice! You can make them pretty cheaply too, so it’s a perfect dish to serve at a game night.
Best Game Night Snacks
- Charceuterie boards
- Loaded nachos
- Jalapeno poppers
- Cheese board
- Chicken wings
- Halloumi skewers
- Baguette pizza
- Pigs in a Blanket
- Deviled eggs
- Prawn Cocktail
- Stuffed mushrooms
- Dough balls
Game Night Dessert Options
Vanilla cheesecake is a safe choice. But you can also try something different too. Go for a Black Forrest cheesecake or a splash a bit of Irish cream in to make a tasty alcoholic party dessert!
Fruit or chocolate tarts are always a great idea for a game night dessert. You can make lots in one go and bite-sized options are always popular!
A really easy to make and popular dessert option. It’s great for guests who aren’t a fan of chocolate and is another cheap and simple option that tastes great.
The ultimate indulgent dessert. Serve them warm if you can with pouring cream or vanilla or salted caramel ice cream.
Don't Forget the Drinks
You also need to prepare some great drinks for your game night. You could make it a BYOB party if you want to make things easy but it’s also good make some drinks yourself that you can offer to your guests.
Make sure you offer non-alcoholic options and try and be creative. Being the designated driver can be a drag if everyone else is having a few drinks. So offer some cool mocktail options as well as just juice and fizzy drinks if you want to go the extra mile.
Here are two great drinks recipes you should try for your next game night. They’re easy to make in batches, look great and taste amazing. Check out our list of the 10 best party drinks for more recipes!
Blueberry and Ginger Fizz (non-alcoholic)
- Ginger beer 250ml
- Small handful of Blueberries
- 50ml Sugar Syrup
- Juice of 1/2 Lime
Cut the lemon into quarters, add a few basil leaves and the sugar syrup and then muddle in a chilled glass. Fill the glass with ice and top with soda or lemonade.
Old Fashioned Cocktail
- 2 Teaspoons of Sugar Syrup
- 1-2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
- 60ml Whisky
- Orange Slice
- Maraschino Cherry
Add the sugar and bitters to a small glass and mix until the sugar dissolves. Fill the glass with ice and stir in the whisky. Garnish with the orange slice and maraschino cherry.
Game Night Invitations
Once you’ve sorted the games, food and drinks, it’s time to send out your invitations.
If you’re hosting a small casual game night, it’s perfectly fine to send your guests a text. But if you want to be really extra, you can create some invitations electronically and either email them, or print them and send them in the mail. Microsoft Powerpoint and Office work well, but using a website like Canva works even better. It’s full of party invitation templates that you can edit and customise to create the perfect invitation. Plus it’s free to sign up!
So what do you need to include on your invitation?
Because game nights are usually pretty laid back, you don’t have to put much on the invites. Just make sure you let everyone know your address, the time and date, if there will be food, and what the plus one policy is. You also need to include some info outlining how they RSVP.
Aim to let your guests know about your game night around 2-4 weeks before, so they can plan ahead and organise a baby sitter if needed.
Seating and Space Creating Tips
Chances are, you’re hosting your game night at home, but what if you’ve got a fairly small space? There’s no need to worry! Here are some tips that’ll help you create more space in your living room.
- Arrange the furniture around the edge of the room with a small table in the middle.
- Move things that aren’t essential out of your living room. No, we’re not saying throw out your TV for the night, but try and shift any clutter to free up some space.
- Make use of your kitchen and your garden if you have one. These can be good areas to serve food and drinks so you have more room in your living area for the games.
- If you’ve not got enough room for all your guests to sit on couches or chairs, then some pillows laid on the floor work fine! It’ll help to create a cosy vibe too.
Get in the Game Night Mood
If you’ve got the essentials covered, you can also think about adding some details if you’ve got the time and budget for it.
Think about having some background music at your game night. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular, just plug your phone into a speaker and play something on Apple Music. If you fancy yourself a bit of a DJ, you can make your own playlist. Check out our ultimate guide on making a playlist for some tips! But if that’s not your scene, there are plenty of pre-made playlists to choose from so you’ll have no trouble picking the perfect one.
Apple Music is the perfect way to create a party playlist. It’s intelligent recommendation feature makes it really quick to add songs to create the perfect track list and it’s cross fade feature makes seamless song transitions. It’s only $9.99/ £9.99 per month and you can get a free 3 month trial to check it out. And don’t worry, you can use it on Android devices too!
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You can also have a few fun decorations if you fancy, but don’t go crazy. It’s better to spend your money on the games, food and drinks instead. Candles work well for a casual vibe, as do some flowers. If you want to go all out, consider some Vegas themed decorations like roulette wheels, dice and casino table covers.
Make sure you have a good de-clutter and clean up before your guests arrive too.
Have Some Back-Ups
It’s a good idea to have some back-up plans in place, just in case your night doesn’t go exactly as expected. This can happen if there are any issues with the food, or if some guests can’t make it.
Make sure you have some games in mind if you end up with a small number of guests than expected. Pictionary and charades are good options for small groups, and don’t require any extra preparation or equipment.
And have the number of a good takeaway ready too, in case there are any last minute disasters with the food!
What Can the Guests Bring
Usually at least some of the guests will ask if they can bring anything to your game night. Although you’re the host, it’ll take the pressure off if you accept some help. You don’t have to do everything yourself!
Some good things for the guests to bring to your game night are snacks and drinks. You’ll definitely appreciate them on the day, if you’re rushing around trying to sort everything last minute! You can always ask your guests if they have any good electronic or board games that would work well too.
Game Night Hosting Tips
As the game night host, you have some responsibility in making sure the night runs smoothly. You should have a good idea by now of everything you need to organise to make the night a success, but we’ve got some more tips to keep in mind if you want to go the extra mile and be a great host!
- Plan everything as early as possible and know roughly what the order of events is in terms of the food, games and drinks.
- Have a backup plan. If disaster strikes with the food, try and have a plan B ready in your head just in case.
- Introduce guests to each other if you’ve invited people from different circles of friends.
- Offer everyone a drink when they arrive and keep their drinks topped up if you can.