The Busy Girl’s Guide to Hosting Game Night

The best part of hosting game night? Your bed is only a couple rooms away afterwards. The pitfall? Playing hostess can sometimes tax even the most social of butterflies. What’ s a Busy Girl to do? Try out some of these tips to help keep the hostess having the mostest fun!

– Icebreakers – Don’t underestimate the power of a good icebreaker. Games like Code Names can accommodate folks as they wander in, getting the gaming kicked off as soon as the first few gamers arrive. Additionally, they’re a great way to integrate new people into an already established group.

– Set Start and Finish Times – I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been able to party like its 1999 since around 1997. Revolving door, come anytime get togethers are great – once a year, preferably at someone else’s house. Get the ball rolling by setting a time you expect people to start showing up ready to play. And do your weary bones a favor and set an end time. This doesn’t mean shooing everyone out at midnight before you turn into a pumpkin, but will inform folks that starting a game of Brass: Lancashire at 11:30 is not in the cards.

– Potluck/Food options – Don’t let creating snacks and munchies take over your entire afternoon. There are tons of healthy (and less so) pre-made snack options at your local grocer. There are all manner of services that will deliver Pad Thai or Pizza or Sushi to your door.  Even better, ask everyone to bring something they love to share. (You may discover one of your friends is the best brownie maker on the planet.) Grab some drinks and you’re set.

– Pre-view, Pre-punch, Pre-learn – Take a few minutes during your lunch break to read through the rules, watch a play through while you’re feeding the baby, punch a game while you’re catching up on the Great British Bake Off. Don’t spend valuable gaming and social time reading the rules aloud. And split the effort – encourage your friends to know their games before they bring them so there’s a knowledgeable teacher ready to guide everyone quickly through the first play through.

– Themes- We’ve all stood around at game night trying to figure out what to play to kick off the evening. Its a waste of valuable game time! Have themed nights. Food games, heavy euros, games that start with the letter F – whatever, just create a theme that folks can think about ahead of time so that they’ve already got what they want to play in mind when they walk in the door.

– Let the game fit the group – One of the biggest keys to a successful game night (and one that’ll keep people coming back) is choosing the right games for the group. Your casual, drink and chat friends are not going to appreciate something with a 30 page rule book. And the hardcore strategy folks in your life won’t be satisfied with a series of 15 min roll and writes. Don’t spend your night trying to bring every game on your shelf of shame to the table; consider your audience and plan accordingly.

– Set the table – Its super simple, but such a time saver: set up big games before your adventuring party arrives. When you’re talking about something like Gloomhaven or Arkham Horror that can easily take 20 mins to put together, save game time by setting it up pre-game night. If you don’t have cats or small kids you can even get it set up the night before – perfect if you’re rushing back after work/school/practice to set up for a week night soiree’.

– Seating and Tabletops matter – No one wants to be the one sitting on the couch hunched over the coffee table trying to play a dexterity game. The same goes for being the girl on the end of the long rectangular table during Happy Salmon. Think about your game spaces and what might be best for which games – your aching back will thank you.

– Don’t OVER host – Put out anything you can think that guests might need – glasses, napkins, etc. Or if you’re short on space, stick a post-it on cabinet doors labeling where these might be found. Invite your guests to get their own drinks from the fridge. Show everyone where the bathroom is. Designate the person in the chair closest to the door as ‘greeter’. The point is, YOU don’t have to do everything for everyone. The people you invite over are competent enough to play board games, so their probably competent enough to get ice from the ice maker.

– Take it easy – ENJOY YOURSELF. You’re playing games. Game night should be time to relax and have some fun. Who cares if you run out of dip? The best hostess know that the real key to a successful get together is one that everyone enjoys, and that includes YOU.

The Busy Girls Guide to Making Game Night Happen

Friendships sometime seem like a series of running into each other, catching up for 2 mins, comparing schedules for a real get together, then promising to catch up “when things slow down.” Planning a game night with several friends regularly? Forget about it.

We’re all busy with the day-to-day, usually so often that our hobby gets back burned until we can carve out that perfect few hours. Unfortunately, waiting for perfect usually decreases the chances of it happening at all. Erase ‘perfect’ from your phone and put its stuff on the street!  With a few hacks getting the gang together for a game night can be as easy as a roll of the dice.

1 – Consistent Day/Time – Schedule a regular day or night for game night. First Fridays, every other Saturday, every long weekend, whatever works best in general for your group. Regular events stick out in peoples’ heads, and if a player can’t make one there’s another already on the calendar for them to keep in mind and look forward to. Additionally, you’ll have that time regularly set aside on your own calendar for some game-y goodness.

2 – Find an Established Group – Can’t plan/host your own? Look for an already established group that welcomes new players. Check meetup or your local game store – there may be a gathering already regularly scheduled that you and your friends can join, taking the hosting/scheduling duties off your shoulders. (Pro tip: wear a game related shirt everywhere! You might be surprised how many folks approach to mention their love of board games and regular gaming group.)

3 – Public Space – Don’t have time to clean? Keeping 17 dogs in your apartment? Live out in the boonies? Find a central, open location for everyone to meet at. Libraries and community centers typically have public rooms, as do some small colleges and larger coffee shops. And keep your eye out for some more unusual spaces – we have a couple local pubs and restaurants with public space you can reserve as well. Less commute/cleaning time = more game time.

4 – Prep for pre-game – Kick the game into high gear early by setting up before everyone arrives. Send out tutorial videos for games. Punch and bag components (great netflix watching activity). Set up larger games with lots of bits and bobbles before the party gets started. Don’t derail valuable game time with twenty mins of organization and prep.

5 – Kiddo entertainment/Dog party – Juggling little folk or fur babies can often prevent folks from being regular. Consider hiring a single sitter for the entire group either in another area of your space or at another, nearby participant’s place. Not only does this increase the possibility of folks attending and staying longer, and give mom and dad a relaxing, responsibility-lite evening to look forward to, it means fewer overall interruptions for everyone involved.

6 – Alternative Times/Places – Think outside the box when it comes to game “night”. Why not game brunch? A quick game with work friends during lunch break, or a combined baby playdate/parents gamedate works as well. Or a gorgeous autumn afternoon picnic and play time. There’s no limitation on hours for this one. (Also, keep a game in your bag for improptu gaming moments, like while before the food comes at your favorite restaurant or waiting for the kids to get out of their activities.)

7 – Take a Poll – Scheduling apps like Doodle Poll are a gift from the tech world to busy girls everywhere. Throw out an invite to all your friends and let the app figure out when you all share free time. And don’t wait til every single person will attend! Once you have majority plan your evening; the next time you put together a game the person who couldn’t make it will be on the list and someone else will have to miss. Just get something on that calendar!

8 – Enlist some help – If your gaming group is more than you playing solo Spirit Island every week (hopefully), then everyone can contribute fifteen mins towards putting on game night. Round robin game spaces so you’re not the only one cleaning and setting up. Or maybe you have the best space, but one friend is better at finding game videos and another makes amazing snacks. Additional benefit – almost everyone wants to feel needed, so this one will also help folks feel like they’re a valued member of the group. And working together to host a great event will make your group tighter than ever.

Gather up a few friends and get those games on the table – with a little strategy you CAN fit game night into your life!

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” ~ Narthe Troly-Curtin