Grownups like to play too. However, unlike toddlers who gather at the playground or teens who rendezvous in an open field, grownups need an adult destination. A house party is a great idea, but more specifically, you need an agenda. Game nights are perfect because they can be recurring and allow grownups to have a bit of their own fun.
The host should not bear all of the cost. After all, they are providing the venue. A BYOB request allows for a cornucopia of libations, where each visitor brings something they like and enough of it to share with others. Even better, start an email chain so people can mention what they’re bringing. Be sure that some elect to buy non-alcoholic drinks for those who do not consume beer, wine, and liquor.
Likewise, food should not be the sole responsibility of the host. Game night is a community affair, so each visitor should bring a bit of something to share with the crowd. Again, use an email chain, or online event tool like Evite. Keep track of who is bringing what so no two people bring the same. You could suggest a theme; one week each member brings Mexican food, then Italian, Chinese, and so on.
You’ll want all visitors to get involved in the game. You may have to rearrange your living room or kitchen to accommodate a bigger crowd. Having a limited number of seats is sure to alienate some attendants, which will make it less likely that they will want to take part in game play. Consider renting extra chairs from a catering company. Alternatively, clear the furniture in your living room and purchase plenty of pillows for people to sit on while playing.
Similar to a concert or football game, some like to participate in preliminary activities, such as eating or drinking, before the main event. Plan on starting the games about an hour or so after people arrive. That way, visitors can talk, eat, and drink before you bust out the titles from selected game publishers. Some people will arrive later than the time indicated, so pre-gaming ensures no one misses out on the gaming fun.
Depending on the number of people in attendance, choose games that are quick so all attendants get multiple chances to play. Alternatively, have enough games going at the same time that all are actively engaged. After some time, have people rotate around so they are playing different games as well as mingling with different players. You don’t want to choose a long game, like Risk, that takes hours and only allows for a handful of players. Onlookers will grow bored and wonder why you called it game night instead of “lame” night.
Have options for those who have been drinking. Call a cab, uber, or designate a sober driver. Alternatively, allow some people to stay over in spare bedrooms. You want people to have a really good time, but do so in a responsible way.
Scott Reeves is a guy who never really grew up; he still spends his spare time playing an assortment of games, both computer and board games including tabletop.