Planning A Game Night Party For Family & Friends

Score big with your family and friends when you host a game night party. Games are not only a fun, but they’re also a great way to change up your social routine with something for everyone to enjoy, including all ages. But, how do you get started planning a game night party? Which games do you choose? What’s the best game night snacks? These are just a few of the things that we’ll look at in this article.

Board Game - Game Night

Guess Who?: Who is Coming to Your Game Night?

Game nights can be for everyone and anyone. That’s the beauty of it. Games are perfect for all ages, and you can find games that are as complicated or as simple as you want them to be. When you’re deciding to host a game night, one of the first things you’ll want to think about is who you want to invite. Is it a family friendly affair? Do you prefer adults only? Will you include a mix of family and friends? Deciding who you want to invite is the first step in creating an epic game night. Plus, it will help you better plan what games you want to include, the type of snacks you serve, and even a game night theme. Let’s take a look at some considerations for who to invite.

Family Game Nights

When I was a kid, my family was all about game nights. Tabletop board games were the name of the game, and I have fond memories of playing for hours and snacking on classic game night snacks. If you’re thinking about hosting a game night, consider making it a family affair. Games are a great way for kiddos to learn new skills and get quality family time in.

You can host your own family game night with your immediate family or extended family. Or, you can host your friends and their families too. Both are great ways for your kiddos to enjoy, and it’s the perfect way to host a social event for your friends and make it family friendly by including their children too. Your friends will love that they can hang out and not have to worry about getting a babysitter. Looking for some game inspiration? We cover even more game night ideas in an article on family friendly game ideas

Adults Only Game Nights

If you’re looking for a lively get-together with friends or even adult family members, having an adults only game night can be a great way to spend a weekend evening. Games for adults can be a great way to get to know each other better, laugh, and break the ice for any awkward conversation. Plus, they’re just plain fun.

Whether you’re hosting a poker night or an evening filled with classic tabletop games, your guests will have a great time, sans kids. One important decision you’ll want to make is will your game night be a couples night or just a group of your friends? This can play into the types of games you choose, since some games may work well in pairs and others may be better with a large group. You’ll also want to consider what kinds of games your friends prefer, like card games versus board games, but we’ll look at that a bit more in just a bit.

Choosing Who is Coming To Your Game Night

Now that you’ve decided who to invite to game night, it’s time to start thinking about other important tips. We’ll take a look at how to decide what games to choose, how to invite your guests, and my favorite…snacks!

Snack Attack: Choosing Your Game Night Snacks

When it comes to game nights, snacks are a must. They’ll keep you fueled through any gaming, without having to fuss over anything too messy or complicated. The key to a good game night snack? Making sure they are really easy to make and to eat. There’s nothing worse than having messy foods that get on your playing cards, game board, or game pieces. Look for snacks that are easy to eat, with minimal effort. If they can be eaten with one hand, by a stick, napkin, cracker, or chip, then you’re probably in good shape. Not sure where to start when it comes to planning snacks? Here are a few tips on providing tasty snacks that appeal to everyone. And bonus, many of these snacks are great for those with different dietary needs, including gluten-free and vegetarian options.

Snacks - Game Night

Easy Store Bought Snacks

If you’re looking for simple and easy to prepare snacks, look no further than your local grocery store. There are tons of snack foods to choose from that will make your prep time easy and be party pleasers with your guests. Our rule of thumb? Look for pre-packaged chips, crackers, vegetable trays, fruit, and dips. All of these are perfectly portable, aren’t too messy, and they can be mixed and matched to suit everyone’s preferences. Here are some of favorite store bought snack combinations. Of course, you’ll want to mix it up for your own game night snack menu and create your own perfect combinations.

  • Hummus and Vegetables
  • Cheese and Crackers
  • Chips and Salsa
  • Chips and Dip
  • Fresh Fruit

Simple Homemade Snacks

If you’re like me, I love to make a few snacks at any game night, along with the ones I’ve bought at a store. Having a mix of hot and cold foods is also a nice way to have a bit of variety in your snacks too. Of course, I don’t like to have to worry about too much food prep or cooking time, so I look for recipes and easy to put together snacks that can be made with simple ingredients. Here are some of my favorite easy to make homemade snacks that are perfect for any game night.

  • Pigs in a Blanket
  • Chex Mix
  • Rice Crispy Treats
  • Cookies


Don’t forget about drinks too. I like to have a mix of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, if the game night is for adults. One of my go-to tips? Look for individual cans or bottles of drinks. This avoids the inevitable messy soda spilling that usually occurs when you have 2 liter bottles of soda or punch on hand. Sugary drinks like soda and punch can be extra messy and sticky, so having them served in individual pre-packaged cans or bottles is a good way to minimize messiness. When it comes to alcoholic beverages, stick to the basics: beer, wine, and hard cider.  

Snack Inspiration: How to Choose Game Night Snacks

Our snack tips here are the perfect start to planning your game night snacks. The key to snacking success? Plan for a variety of portable and easy to prepare and eat options. Don’t forget to consider dietary requests or kid friendly options too. Want more ideas on game night snacks? We’ve got more ideas for snacks in another article here on our site for even more snack inspiration. 

Pick Two!: What Are Your Game Night Games?

You’ve decided who’s coming to your game night, and you’ve got your snacks ready to go. Now, it’s time to think about picking games for the ultimate game night fun. But, which ones do you choose? Should you go for card games? Classic tabletop games? There’s a lot to choose from, and you’ll want to pick the ones that work best for your guests and your game night set-up. Let’s take a look at games that are great for adults only and those that are a bit more kid friendly.

Family Playing Board Games - Game Night

Games for All Ages

When it comes to finding games for all ages, here are a few good rules of thumb for finding games everyone will love.

  • Stick to the classics: Monopoly. Uno. Jenga. These are just a few classic tabletop games that are great for all ages. Sticking with classic games means you’ll play those games that are tried and true, with fairly easy to follow instructions and are good for a variety of ages. Even if you have younger gamers, they’ll enjoy following along and learning how to play.
  • Keep it simple: Avoid finding games with complicated rules and gameplay. This will help make the games fun and easy for everyone at game night.
  • Find kid-friendly games: Look for games that are fun for adults and for kiddos. This means everyone will have fun and get a chance to play too.

With just a few of these handy rules of thumb, you’ll be able to get your game night going with tons of fun for everyone.

Games for Adults

Games for adults can vary. They might just be games with more complex rules and gameplay. They might have more adult themes or language. One thing you’ll want to consider are the types of games your group may want to play. Here are a few types and examples of games:

  • Strategy Games: These games require decision making skills and strategy to complete. Examples include: Risk, Sequence, Ticket to Ride.
  • Cooperative Games: These games require teamwork in order to successfully complete the gameplay. Examples include: Pandemic, Axis & Allies, Scotland Yard.
  • Card Games: These games are played with cards, rather than a standard tabletop game board. Examples include: Uno, Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity.
  • Role-playing Games: These games get you immersed in a story by giving you the chance to roleplay your characters. Examples include: Dungeons & Dragons, Villains & Vigilantes, Descent: Journeys in the Dark.
  • Tile-Based Games: These games rely on the players using tiles to create a the game board or gameplay area. Examples include: Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Lanterns.

Looking for more gaming inspiration for an adults game night? Check out our Buying Guide for the Best Board Games for Adults Guide and Reviews for even more tips and game suggestions.

Ticket to Ride Game - Game Night

Photo Copyright David Mulder / Flickr / CC BY-2.0

Take Your Pick: Picking Your Game Night Games

As you can see, there are a lot of choices when it comes to choosing games for your game night. Of course, if you still can’t decide, we recommend check out our article on the Best Board Games You Can Play in 2016 for even more tips on great games to play for adults and ones that are family friendly.

Get in the Game: Inviting Your Game Night Guests

You’ve got your game night planned. Your snacking menu is set. And, you’ve got your board game selection ready to go. Now all you need are your guests. But, how should you invite your guests? Will a simple phone call or text do? Or, should you send out a formal game night invitation? The choice is yours, but here are a few ways you can share game night invites with your guests.

  • Send out an email: This might be one of the most popular ways to invite your guests. Send out an email with all the game night details. You can include include fun images in your email or any attachments, like lists of games. Do make sure you let your guests know if they need to reply to you with an RSVP or not. Emailing an invite is easy, simple to use, and makes game night invitations a breeze.
  • Send out an online calendar invite: Instead of an email, you can always just create an online calendar invite. If you’re using gmail or some other popular email service, this is easy to do. You can usually include a simple RSVP to the invite too, so there’s no need to send a reply via email. Some calendar invites allow attachments, but not all do. This may not always be the best way to invite your guests, since not everyone uses the same email services. This means your calendar invite may not work well with your guest’s email calendar.
  • Send out an online invitation service: There are plenty of online invitation tools that you can use to send out your game night invites. One example is Evite, where you can manage and keep track of your invites. You’ll even find fun themes like this one for game night. Plus, an online invitation service can even send out reminders to your guests and keep track of other important game night info.
  • Send out a printed invitation: Go classic with a traditional printed invitation. Though this option isn’t for everyone, you may want to consider going old school with printed invitations. Printed invitations should be send out well in advance to avoid any mailing delays. Plus, you’ll want to make sure that you include all the information needed, along with any RSVP info.

Things you’ll want to include no matter what kind of invitation you send:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location
  • Game info

Other things to include:

  • Get people excited about the games: Use game puns or tell them a bit about the games you have. Get them excited before they even walk in the door. This is a great way to set the mood and tone for your game night.
  • Let people know if the game nigh is kid friendly or not: Telling your guests upfront if the game night is kiddo friendly or not is pretty important. This way they can arrange for childcare, if they need it, or prepare to bring the whole family for gaming fun.
  • Let them know what to expect: Don’t bamboozle your guests with games they might not be prepared to play or are comfortable with. If someone comes expecting to play a card game but gets stuck playing a 3-hour long strategy game, they might be so thrilled.
  • Include food options and special dietary needs considerations: Do note any special dietary accommodations that you’ve planned for, or ask if there are dietary needs you don’t know about. If you’re planning more of a potluck game night where everyone brings snacks, now’s the time to let guests know.

Shuffle Up and Deal: Getting the Game Night Started

Your guests have arrived. Snacks and drinks are on hand. Your games are ready and waiting. Yes, it’s time to get your game night party started. Here are a few tips and strategies to get your game night started.

Board Games - Game Night

Mix and Mingle: Start with Snacks and Introductions

If your game night includes guests who may or may not know each other (or don’t know each other well), it’s always a good idea to have some pre-game time to mix and mingle. Make sure to have some snacks on hand, even if it’s light appetizers and drinks, to get everyone acquainted with each other. It’s the perfect time to introduce those who may not know each other and get people relaxed. This is especially true if you’re planning on playing any games that might require cooperation or teamwork. And, this is a good time to serve any foods or drinks that might be messier or more complicated, so that guests aren’t worrying about eating them during gameplay.

The Rules of the Game: Go Over Game Rules and Instructions

Once everyone has been introduced and had some time to mix and mingle, it’s time to start thinking about the games. The first order of business is to go over the rules of the game. This is essential if not everyone has played the game before; or, if you need to go over the rules to ensure everyone is on the same page. I’m always surprised when I play Monopoly with new people and find out that we all have slightly different interpretations of the rules. With this in mind, it’s good to make sure everyone agrees on the gameplay rules before you get started.

Snack a lot: Have Snacks on Hand

Do make sure you have snacks and beverages on hand and easily accessible to your gameplay area. This way, guests can quickly grab what they need to without having to leave or take breaks. Choose snacks that are easy, portable, and less messy too to avoid any food and game catastrophes.

Variety is the Spice of Life: Play Different Games

Unless your group agrees to playing just one game, do have a variety of games on hand. Look for games with simple rules and easy set-up. When we play game night at my house, we like to start with easier games and work our way into more complex games throughout the course of the night. If you don’t have that many games in your own collection, ask your guests to each bring their favorite game to help add in some variety while keeping your costs down too.

Time on Your Side: Stick to a Designated Time

One final reminder about time. Do make sure you agree to the time spent in gameplay. If you tell your guests in their invitation that the gaming night is for three hours, try to stick to that time frame. That is, of course, unless everyone wants to keep on gaming. And don’t forget to add in a break or two in between games.

Gaming Night Made Easy

So there you have it. Some of our best tips and tricks to planning a game night for family and friends. With just a few simple tips and some pre-game night prep, you’ll be on your way to scoring big with everyone who comes to your game night.

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