How to Host a Game Night

game night with Clue

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

You don’t have to be a professional party planner to host a fabulous game night that everyone will enjoy. It’s all about organizing, making lists, and finding ways to provide fun for your guests.

Oh, and the food. You have to make sure there’s plenty of delicious food and a variety of drink options. You might even want to consider having others bring food to share. That way, you'll have a wider variety so there's something for everyone.

Who to Invite

It’s important to think about the people you’ll invite to your game night. First of all, you need to consider how much room you have. If your space is large, you might want to invite a bunch of people and set up board game stations. Or you can have teams for classic games such as drawing games like Pictionary or any of the trivia games.

Even if you have a small space, don’t be afraid to host a smaller event. You and your partner can invite one or two other couples, and you will still have a great time playing board games.

When to Have a Game Night 

You can have a game night any time of year. However, depending on a number of factors, such as weather, what’s going on in the community, and schedules of your guests, you may have some times when it’s easier to get people to come. 

Another thing you might want to consider is planning your game night around another event, such as St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, the Olympics, or professional or college sports. You can use the occasion to create a theme. If you're having it during a sporting event, have each person choose a team to add to the competitive spirit.

If you plan to have the party indoors, you can have the party any time of year. However, an outdoor party is more enjoyable during the warmer months. However, if you have a fire pit or outdoor heaters, you can go outside, even when it's cold.

Whether you invite people ahead of time or host an impromptu game night is up to you. Only you know your friends and how busy they are. If you want a larger group, it’s probably best to email, text, call, or even create a Facebook event page a week or two in advance.

Game Night Food

Food and drink are essential for game night. Since game night is typically a casual experience, you might want to have a buffet. You may or may not want to serve dinner. Sometimes an assortment of appetizers is all you need, plus finger foods are easier to manage while playing games. 

Here are some food suggestions for anyone who is puzzled by providing the perfect party food selection:

Game Night Food Checklist

  • Ask your guests to bring their favorite finger foods to share.
  • Stop at the deli on the way home and pick up some party platters.
  • Fill the refreshments table with chips, dips, vegetable trays, and cold cuts.
  • Dessert is always welcome at a party. Be sure to pickup things like cupcakes, cookies, and brownies for a casual get-together.
  • As for drinks, it’s up to you whether or not to serve alcohol. If you do offer beer, wine, or mixed drinks, be sure to have other options for your guests who don't drink alcohol.

Entertainment for Game Night

Since this is officially a game night party, you’ll need to have some board games on hand. The more games you have the better so you’ll have a choice. Perhaps you can ask each person or couple to bring their favorite game or two. You can even make a game of having your guests “sell” the idea of the game they brought.

If you’d rather supply the game or games, make sure you have backups. There are several reasons you might have to shift gears, from people not grasping the rules to someone not liking your game of choice.

Set the Mood

You’ll also need to set the mood for your game night event. Since it’s probably a casual event, you don’t need to use elaborate decorations

Music is always a great mood setter. Create a playlist that appeals to the people you invited. If you know everyone has different taste, there is nothing wrong with an eclectic collection of multiple genres. 

Here are some other ways to set the mood:

  • Place bouquets of flowers in strategic spots, such as the buffet table, near the drinks, and at the entrance where you’ll greet your guests.
  • Light a scented candle. 
  • Place plenty of throw pillows around the room where you’ll be playing games.
  • Fill the soap dispenser, replace the toilet paper with a full roll, and put out fresh hand towels in the bathroom. 
  • Make sure there is enough lighting in the game area so people can see the board and game pieces.
  • Have a few conversation starters to help loosen people up. Create some questions so your guests can get to know each other.

Night of the Games

When your guests first arrive, encourage conversation before diving into the games. Serve food and drinks for up to an hour before you begin, so your guests have a chance to chat and get comfortable around each other.

Don’t stress plowing through the games. Take periodic breaks so your guests won’t grow weary. In order to prevent people from overstaying their welcome, announce when you’re ready to play your last game or round. When it's time for everyone to leave, thank them for coming.

Have Fun

Although it may be tempting to abstain from participating since you’re the host, resist that temptation. You and your guests will have a much better time if you play games and enjoy the food along with everyone else. Everyone needs to have fun during game night—even the host.