Planning for an Epic Game Night

Eat, work, sleep. Rinse and repeat. As adults, it’s easy to fall into a rut doing the same old things over and over again even during our free time. We’re so focused on the tasks before us that we forget to have fun. Sometimes it feels like a lot of work to have fun, but do you ever stop and think about how easy it was for us as kids to create our own fun with just a rock and stick? It’s high time for a game night. Here’s how.

Below we’ve laid the groundwork to create a simple night of fun and hi-jinx. Many of the items needed can be purchased locally at Anko at one of their stores (in Lynnwood, Burien, Bellevue, Kirkland or Mill Creek) or online. They rotate their products frequently so you might not find the exact same items we did. Other suggestions are mentioned as well.

Planning the Night

Don’t overthink it. Some of the best experiences come from the simplest plans:

  1. Invite a few friends.
  2. Set the mood.
  3. Plan the games.
  4. Provide the refreshments.

That’s about it. Just keep it simple. Sure, there’s a bit more to it like cleaning the house and buying supplies, but that’s expected. Just be sure to divide the tasks between you and your significant other. If the process become stressful, you’re doing it wrong.

Invite a few friends

We often think of parties with a large group of friends, but while more may be merrier, it’s also a lot more work and can become a lot more expensive. Think smaller. Then again, not too small. Consider inviting four couples over and if one couple bails at the last minute, you still have a good size group.

Set the Mood

Make it casual affair. No need for crazy decorations unless you want to. Set up “photo booth” with props for fun. We found a cheap set at Anko for $3 that included paper cut-outs of a crown, unicorn horn, bunny ears, sunglasses and more. Fill a few small metal buckets with M&M’s or Skittles and put them in strategic places your living room for easy access and let the games begin.

Plan the games

As hosts, we naturally want to be accommodating to our guests, but you need to have some kind of plan in place. Don’t make the mistake of just asking, “So, what games would you guys like to play?” Your guests don’t really want to be the ones to make the decision. At the very least, offer two games for them to decide on. From Bunko to classic card games, just about anything will work. Although, avoid games that take a long time to play or are overly complicated. Better yet, why not come up with a twist of old favorites or try something new? Here are some suggestions.

Bingo Potluck

Have each guest bring an item from home that they no longer want wrapped in a plain brown paper bag. These will be used as the prizes for those who get a “Bingo.” The odder the item the more fun the game is. (This is fun game to play after Christmas when you have silly stuff you got as gifts but don’t know what to do with them, but it can be played any time of the year.) Don’t have a Bingo game set? You can purchase a cheap one at your local department store. Use your M&M’s or Skittles as markers.

Jackbox TV

Jackbox Games offers fun party game experiences using your video game system and your guests’ cell phones. The website offers a variety of games that are easy to understand, simple to execute and don’t take a long time to play. Show off your trivia knowledge, creativity and humor with games like Word Spud, Lie Swatter, Fibbage, Drawful, Trivia Murder Party and more. Many games can be played with up to ten players and even spectators will have fun.

Chalkboard Rumble

Set up a large A-frame chalkboard in the center of the room. Give every guest a few slips of paper and a pen. Choose a theme (movie titles, song titles, things found in the house, etc.) and have your guests write some titles or items on the slips of paper. Place all the slips into a pail. Then, divide into two teams. Pick a member on each team to go first. One player picks a slip and shares it with the other player. On a count of three, both draw clues to the answer on their side of the chalkboard without speaking while their team shouts out answers. First team to guess the right answer wins the round and scores a point. The team that wins the game can celebrate their win by launching confetti poppers.

Provide the Refreshments

Remember, this isn’t a formal dinner party. Simple desserts are the way to go and we’ve got a few tricks to make them extra special.

Gourmet Cupcakes

Yes, you COULD purchase expensive cupcakes for $4 each or you can make them yourself. No really. First, we recommend purchasing silicone baking cups instead of using the old-fashioned paper liners. They look nice and can be used over and over again. Be sure to spray them with a little cooking spray and place them in a regular cupcake pan, so they keep their shape.

Use a reliable cake mix like Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist cake mix. Each box makes 24 cupcakes so you’ll have plenty to share. Then skip the canned frosting and make your own. We highly recommend Tom Douglas’ Vanilla Bean Buttercream frosting recipe found in The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. It takes awhile to make, but it is SO much better than what passes as buttercream on the store shelves.

Now to get creative. Just a few additions will make these cakes into something super special. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make mocha cupcakes by adding a few teaspoons of instant coffee into a chocolate cake batter.
  • Throw in a few mini chocolate chips into a white cake mix just before backing.
  • Top frosted cupcakes with a little caramel ice cream topping and a pinch of salt.
  • Tint frosting with green food coloring and add a teaspoon of mint extract.
  • Make lemon cupcakes and top with fresh strawberry slices.

Mini Apple Pies

Easy as…well, you know…purchase little pie plate tins ($3.50 for 4 at Anko!) and Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust dough. Cut the dough to fit the small pie plates. Fill with your favorite apple pie filling recipe and top with a crumb topping. Top with vanilla bean ice cream for the full experience.

Cocktails or Mocktails

We found six packs of “milk bottles” that are perfect for party cocktails. We recommend using a clear beverage like a light rum, vodka or soda and make then sparkle with colorful fruit-infused ice cubes. Before your party, fill your ice cube trays with fruits and juices. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Ice cubes made with berries and cran-raspberry juice. Serve with lemon-lime soda or seltzer water.
  • Ice cubes made with mint leaves, lime juice and simple syrup. Serve with light rum.
  • Ice cubes made with strawberries or raspberries and water. Serve with lemonade.

Of course, what really makes it are those nifty bendy straws with mustaches and lips!

Author: Jeffrey Totey

I write about arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.

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