How to Host a Laid-Back Game Night
What to Play
Burned out on charades and Scattergories? Give one of these lesser-known contenders a try.
1. Parlor Games
Bunco: In each round of this dice game, you try to roll specific numbers (ones, twos, and so on). It’s easy to learn but so addictive. For 12 players.
How’s Yours?: Find a common factor among your group of friends and have one person try to figure it out with clever one-word clues. For 6 or more players.
Mafia: Put your poker face to use with this whodunit game played with cards. Snare the Mafia before it offs the whole town. For 6 to 17 players.
2. Board Games
Apples to Apples: Make split-second matches between nouns and adjectives―for example, “hair transplants” and “unnatural” ($23, target.com). For 4 to 10 players.
Say Anything: Answer questions like “Which movie should never have been made?” A judge picks the best ($19, amazon.com). For 3 to 8 players.
Wits and Wagers: A trivia game in which you don’t have to be a know-it-all. Just bet on the right answer ($19, amazon.com). For 4 to 20 players.
3. Electronic Games
Catch Phrase: Classic Password enters the digital age with this handheld version ($27, hasbrotoyshop.com). For 4 to 20 players.
Scene It TV Edition: Test your pop-culture prowess with this DVD trivia game ($10, amazon.com). For 2 players or 2 teams.
Wii Carnival Games: Try your luck at the ring toss and 25 other attractions that you can re-create with the Wii remote (from $19, amazon.com.) For 1 to 4 players.
Get instructions for More Games for a Crowd.
What to Serve
Avocado dip, chili, and corn bread are cozy make-ahead options.
Since the sweet and spicy flavors of chili and corn bread can overwhelm many beers, serve dark and malty full-bodied brews. Try nationally available specialty beers, such as Rogue Chipotle Ale, Murphy’s Stout, or Old Rasputin Imperial Stout. Or go with good old Sierra Nevada Porter.
Fix Up the Space
On the day of the party, clear off your coffee table (for gaming) and dining-room table (for the chili bar). Tray tables make handy perches.
To set up a chili bar, fill the table with an array of colorful toppings―from the traditional, like jalapeños and Cheddar, to the unexpected, like cut-up radishes and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Play Up the Theme
For a festive table runner, arrange playing cards on a sheet of paper, make several color copies, and tape them together. Use it to decorate your dining-room table.
Set Out the Dishes
Minimize damage from spills with big napkins or dish towels. Use dinner plates as trays to hold chili and corn bread. Fire up the crowd and add some heat to the meal by offering a variety of hot sauces from around the country. Go to sweatnspice.com for a selection.