18th Birthday Ideas - Throw a Giant Games Party

  • 01 of 03

    Throw a Giant Games Party

    Players are the pieces in this giant Monopoly in the Park board game in San Jose, Calif. The 930-sq. ft. game board, near the city's Children’s Discovery Center, and its gigantic dice and "playing piece" hats can be rented for the day. Photo courtesy of HarshLight/Flickr, reprinted under a Creative Commons license

    Planning a big 18th birthday party? Why not think really big and throw a giant board game party? It's no secret that board games have become popular dorm pastimes. Games like Quelf or Settlers of Catan can be played anywhere and many of the most popular dorm board games are designed for group play. So take that idea and make it bigger. Much much bigger. Your favorite 18-year-old (or 20-something or 30-something or...) will always remember the party that featured a Twister board for 50, a...MORE Catan board with yard-wide tiles or the Monopoly game in which players were the pieces.

    Here are some ideas to get you started:

    Giant Monopoly

    You know those giant chess and checkerboards you run across occasionally in city parks, the kind that take two hands and a little bicep action to move pawns and bishops? Now a park in San Jose, Calif. has done something similar with Monopoly: Players are the pieces when it comes to this 930-sq. ft. game board (pictured above). They wear hats topped with the iconic scotty dog, boot and top hat, roll gigantic dice and collect property during games that can last all afternoon. The game board and adorable accoutrements are rented from the nonprofit Monopoly in the Park, which also supplies a banker/docent.

    Don't live near San Jose? You can create something similar in an empty parking lot or playground using colored chalk and a strip of molding as an impromptu uber-yardstick. The San Jose board measures nearly 50 feet per side, to give players adequate room to stand on the four large corner squares, as well as the and nine property/railroad/community chest spaces that line each side. If you don't have that kind of space, simply scale it down and use oversized playing pieces instead of people: An actual top hat, a real iron (or a stuffed version of the iconic playing piece's replacement, a cat), a boot and so on.

    You'll also need oversized dice (painted foam or styrofoam cubes or even cardboard boxes), cash (copied on colored, legal-sized paper), property deeds and community chest/chance cards, which you may prefer to pilfer from your own normal-sized Monopoly game.

    More games? Turn to the next page...

    Continue to 2 of 3 below.
  • 02 of 03

    Giant Twister Party

    This classic children's game is even more fun when played on a giant board. Photo courtesy of Sahxic/Flicker, reprinted under a Creative Commons license

    Twister is a classic party game, best played by many people on a slightly too small board to maximize the contortions necessary to get your left hand on a red circle while your right foot stretches toward an over-sized blue dot. When dorms or fraternities play this game, they typically take several twister games (compare prices) and tape the edges together with duct tape to form one giant board, suitable for 20 or 40 or 100 people to play on at the same time.

    But there are other options too,...MORE including painting circles - use a circle stencil to speed the task - on a canvas tarp or drop cloth, or using spray chalk (compare prices) on a lawn or field. Need inspiration? You'll find a terrific Flickr photo of a game at Lafayette College, with the circles painted on a lawn.

    More game ideas? Here are a few more...

    Continue to 3 of 3 below.
  • 03 of 03

    More Gigantic Game Ideas

    Settlers of Catan. Photo by Jackie Burrell

    There's something irresistible about a giant game board - perhaps it's the element of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids." Here are a few ideas for gigantic versions of classic games you can make for your party, along with links to instructions and photos:


    • Giant Catan: Several years ago, Settlers of Catan fan Matt Bell decided to take his favorite game to Burning Man, the wildly creative desert festival held in Nevada each year. He cut the signature hexagonal tiles out of wood and...MORE painted them and added props to a game that became an instant hit. Plywood makes the game incredibly sturdy - which you need at Burning Man - but it's also heavy and labor intensive, so if this game is for a one-off event, a birthday party or a Settlers of Catan game night, you might want to use posterboard or foam core instead of wood. Need inspiration? Geekosystem.com featured a great photo of Bell's version.
    • Angry Birds: Cardboard boxes and a little ingenuity are all it takes to make your own backyard version of Angry Birds. Need inspiration and how-tos? SimplyStyledHome.com offers an adorable - and easily grown-up-ified - birthday party plan with printables, cookie and game ideas, including several YouTube tutorials on how to make the slingshots, birds and structures.
    • Scrabble: Giant Scrabble boards are easy to make in both temporary and seriously permanent versions. Sunset magazine recently featured a patio installation for backyard crossword play, but you can make a more temporary party-ready version using foam core for the tiles.
    • Battleship: OK, use this idea responsibly! In certain quarters, the classic "you sank my battleship" game has morphed into Battleshots, a drinking game popular among college kids and 20somethings, who use a fantastic-looking, table-sized game board. Caveats? Loads of them: This game is not appropriate for an 18-year-old birthday party in countries where the legal drinking age is 21 and downing shots is a bad idea at any age. But the game board itself - a clever paper-covered table, no shots necessary - is awesome and it's a reminder that whether it's Battleship, Operation, Ticket to Ride or Quelf, all it takes to turn a favorite classic game into an oversized party centerpiece is paper, pen and creativity. No shots needed.