“Uno!” It’s such a small word, but it feels so big when you get to yell it at a game night, even if it is against a group of 7-year-olds.
But winning is just one of the highlights of playing games with your friends or family. There is also the friendly competition, the good-natured trash-talk and the endless fun and laughter.
The good news is putting a game night together is easy. Simply pick the night, the people, the game, the food and voila—you’ve got game!
The people and the place
Don’t go crazy on the guest list. The bigger the group, the harder it is to keep things manageable. Figure out how many people can fit in your space and go from there. Four to eight people is a good place to start.
Who do you invite? Friends who know each other or a mix of people who don’t know each other? It’s a crapshoot. Just decide and don’t worry about it. This is supposed to be fun!
Where you play depends on the game. Do you need room to move? Do you need a table or floor space? Plan ahead and make sure you’re ready. Youngsters can play games on the floor, but some adults might prefer furniture—once they get down there, they might not be able to get up! And you don’t want someone to have to sit on the couch arm all night, so make sure you have enough seating.
Pick your game
Card games, board games, party games or outdoor games are all possibilities for the big night. When it comes to choosing a game or games, think about your crowd. Certain games fit the personalities of your group better than others. Some are good for small groups, others are more fun with large groups.
The competitive side you never knew some of your guests had can come out during game night, so be ready. Team games involving charades get a party rolling fast. Trivia games may make you realize you never knew your friend was so smart. Or maybe they’re just good at remembering useless facts.
The old standards from childhood are always a safe bet. (Although they may be triggering to some!) But new games are popping up all the time, so make sure to check out the latest offerings and ask around for recommendations.
If you’re playing with kids, you could even make game night into a learning opportunity without them even knowing. Games in general teach kids skills around counting, taking turns and reading. But there are opportunities for more. The Nutrilite™ team, for example, created Nutriland, a fun game that has players trying to finish exploring the farm first.
All along their adventure they learn how important it is to eat fruits and vegetables from every color the rainbow to get a variety of plant nutrients. Did you know that purple produce support a good mood? Land on that space and you can skip ahead nine spaces! Download the game for free right here, grab some playing tokens from another game or make your own, and you are ready to play.
Gamers gotta eat
The low-stress way of feeding your fellow gamers is to order takeout. The medium-stress way is store-bought: chips, dips, pretzels, nuts, veggies, popcorn, something chocolate and whatever else doesn’t take any time to make.
The more stressful but impressive option is to serve a real meal before the games start, but still something manageable like tacos, hotdogs, chili or something else out of a slow-cooker.
If you want to make a real impression, however, make time to shape a cream cheese dip into cubes and dot it with black olives to simulate dice, or make a cake decorated as the board of the night’s game or as a score sheet. Have some fun!
Have plenty of soda, water and other beverages on hand to keep people fueled for the competition. Or make it super easy by saying BYOB. And never, ever say “no” to guests who want to bring something. That’s one less thing for you to do.
Game night advice
Watch out for cheaters. They’re mostly older people who can get away with it (because accusing your grandmother of cheating is considered mean for some reason). But don’t let her kid you; she knows she’s doing it. Grandmothers can bluff with the best of them.
Keep pets out of the game area. A cat jumping on a game board can mean starting over. And if you’re winning, YOU DON’T WANT TO START OVER.
If someone isn’t familiar with the game, play a practice round first so everyone knows how to play. Decide the rules ahead of time, too. Then no one can get cranky when the issue pops up. Do-overs are good when you’re playing with kids or people who have no idea what they’re doing.
Last but not least, have fun! The biggest joy of a lively game night is having laid-back fun with friends and family—even if it is “just a game.”
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