A long grueling work week can sometimes serve as the nail in your social life's coffin. Friday nights I might end up on the sofa with a crochet project and a couple of good movies. But, as part of my Spring goal of reviving my social life, I invited a group of friends over for one of my good ol' fashioned game nights. It's really not a lot of work, and by the time everyone's in my living room, I'm always so glad I didn't opt for a lonely movie night.
Here's what I usually do to prepare for hosting game nights in my home:
- Pick up the house- I don't clean, because usually there's plenty of that to do afterwards. However, I always clean the bathroom. Nothing's worse than paying a visit to someone's dirty loo!
- Get snacks- Usually I make a bunch of popcorn or kettle corn on the stove, and provide chips and salsa. One of my best friends has gluten allergies, so I try to provide snacks everyone can enjoy. Also, if you're low on supplies, friends are usually very willing to bring snacks to contribute.
- Prepare the bar- Game nights are always BYOB, but everyone knows that I will have an open bar. Typically I try to keep it stocked with mid shelf liquor (vodka, scotch, bourbon, light and dark rums, and a couple of liqueurs) and some mixers (grenadine, ginger ale, coke, and tonic).
- Make a playlist- Sometimes I play a good station on Pandora Radio (Dr. Dog + Mumford & Sons in a favorite), and sometimes I play a go-to list of music I've compiled just for game nights. I like to hook my computer up to the stereo system so that anyone can feel free to play DJ throughout the night.
- Rearrange the furniture- Nothing major here, just making sure all seating areas have side tables for drinks and games, as well as adding an extra table to the bar for additional drinking glasses. Sometimes I grab a couple of side tables from my bedroom to add to the arrangement.
- Display magazines on the coffee table- My friends like to look through books and magazines while we wait for the whole gang to arrive and also to browse through in between games. Like responsible amounts of alcohol, they can be a social lubricant, and they also conveniently provide writing surfaces for game playing.
- Bring out the games- Some of our favorite games for a large group are Loaded Questions, Balderdash, Apples to Apples, The Game of Things, and other party favorites from high school youth group parties, like Four on a Couch and Psychology.
My last and most important tip is to be a responsible host. If you are going to be involving alcohol in your get-together, be prepared for anything. Thankfully, most of my friends are pretty responsible and if they are going to be drinking, they have traveled in a group and won't be driving themselves home.
One time my friend didn't eat all day before drinking a variety of alcohol at game night, and she was rather the worse for wear by the end of the night. She had driven herself to the party, and really needed to get home as soon as possible. I didn't want to send her away in a cab, and fortunately, she only lived a couple of miles away. So, I grabbed the keys to my car and drove her home. She called me in the morning to apologize, and I appreciated that, but at least I was only gone from the party for ten minutes, and Phil was there to continue being a good host.
Another aspect of being a responsible host, when living in an apartment, is to be a courteous neighbor. When 11:00 PM rolls around, I turn down the music. When we go outside to smoke, we keep our voices low, and dispose of the cigarette butts in the the dumpster, so the maintenance guys don't have to clean up our mess in the morning. It's the little things that are important.
Game nights are always so much fun, and not a lot of work to throw together. My friends don't care if my apartment isn't squeaky clean, so I don't stress out too much about preparations. These parties are also a great time to make new friends. I always encourage people to bring their friends who the rest of the gang has never met. It's the perfect opportunity to get to know people who were either just acquaintenances, or are people whom you had never met until they stepped through the door that night.
If you guys have any tips or questions, add them in the comments section and I'll be checking back to participate in the conversation!