I can remember back when we hosted our first game night. If it wasn’t for our mom, the whole night would have been a disaster! We had no idea all the planning, prepping and thought that went into hosting an event. Sure, every get together you hold at your house won’t be very elaborate, but even the more casual events require some sort of planning. It’s important to know some tips on being a great host for game night.
So how do you become a great game night host? There are many layers to being a good host in general, such as – catering to guests needs, providing a comfortable environment, and making sure everyone is well fed with a drink in their hand. But we believe the most important aspect of being a great GAME NIGHT host is making sure you are present and not getting wrapped up in all the details.
The Difference Between a Host and a GAME NIGHT Host
There are many types of events that require a host, basically any time an event takes place at your home, you are a host. But there is a key difference between being a regular party or event host, and a game night host.
Parties are usually based around some sort of special occasion, such as a birthday or a holiday, where the most important part of the event is making sure your guests are happy and having fun. More often than not, the host of these types of events rarely get to enjoy the festivities.
Between cooking, serving and cleaning, there is always something that needs to be taken care of, which leaves little time for the host to join in on the fun.
A Game NIght host, however, wants to be a part of the fun. The whole point of hosting a game night is to play some games with your guests, not to be stuck in the kitchen! These tips we will be giving below will not only make you a better game night host, but they will also make things easier on yourself so that you can enjoy some good quality gameplay.
1. Meal Prepping for Game Night
Eating food is not only essential for survival, but it is also a very important aspect of social interaction. When people gather, 9 out of 10 times there is food involved. Sharing a meal with friends and family is a very personal way to form a connection with other human beings.
Social interaction also increases endorphins in the brain which is responsible for making people happier, and therefore healthier.
When hosting a game night, you don’t want to only focus on what games will be played, but also what food will be served. You could go the easy route and serve store bought chips and dips (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but we like to spruce things up with a mixture of prepackaged snacks and homemade appetizers.
Whatever you choose to serve, it is important to plan ahead. Take note of how many people will be attending. This is important so that you can make sure to have enough food to last the night.
If you plan on making something homemade, read the recipe thoroughly and see if you can prepare parts in advance. This will save time when guests arrive and allow you to get the food out in a timely manner.
Check out our article on easy game night recipes to give you a few ideas on what you can cook for game night!
2. Gamers Get Thirsty
Just like athletes become parched after playing a sport, gamers build up a thirst gaming. I know what you’re thinking: “Playing board games doesn’’t require any physical activity, how could it possibly be compared to playing a sport?!?” Sure sitting around a table requires little to no movement at times, but the mental strain that some strategic board games require can cause an increased amount of stress. Some games are so intense that players may start sweating, thus the desire for a cold beverage arises.
Along with making sure you have enough food, knowing the amount of guests that will be attending your game night is crucial so that you don’t run out of drinks. The types of drinks you serve will depend on the time of the event and the age of your guests.
If you are hosting adults, it might be best to have guests bring their own beverages. This will help to save money and everyone will be drinking what they like. You can make it a BYOB (bring your own beer) kind of night.
We like to keep powdered beverages such as iced tea and lemonade on hand. Sure, there is always water, but a sugary drink is sometimes preferred by some guests. Keeping these types of ‘quick to make drinks’ in your pantry ensures that you always have an “exciting” drink on hand, in case you run out of the cans/bottle of soda you had bought for the night.
A good host will alway be mindful of their guest’s drinks. Like my italian grandmother, I am constantly asking my guests if I can get them something to drink or refill their cup. As the host, it is your responsibility to keep their cups full and make sure nobody gets thirsty.
3. Create a Comfortable and Practical Gaming Space
Unlike other events, game nights (usually) require a table to play on and plenty of seating. A great host will have the gaming area set up when guests arrive.
You do not want your guests to have to help you with setting up the space. Make sure there are enough chairs for everyone to have a seat. If there is a particular chair that is uncomfortable or in an awkward spot for gaming, save that seat for yourself. Prioritizing your guests comfort over your own is not only a nice gesture, but also the right thing to do.
If you have the space, set up multiple tables, one for gaming, one for food and beverages and another for spare games. If your space is tight, utilize the main table in the beginning of the evening to serve your food. Once everyone is well fed, clear the area for gaming to begin.
If more snacks are required, take breaks during game play to serve food, or set up food that can easily be accessed in the kitchen if it is close to your gaming area.
4. The Sounds of Gameplay & Music While Board Gaming
Music is unique because there are so many different genres and everyone has different tastes in artists. Although it isn’t necessary, we recommend having some soft music playing in the background during your game night.
Music helps people feel relaxed and fills the empty spaces in between conversation. If you and your friends like the same artists/bands, by all means, have that music playing in the background. Otherwise, we recommend picking a playlist that contains soft and mellow tunes. This type of music won’t be distracting while games that require more concentration are being played.
Something as subtle as background music may go unnoticed physically, but not subconsciously. Your guests may not even realize it is playing and that might be a positive thing.
Having background music ready to go when guests start arriving sets a positive mood for the evening. By creating a homey and relaxing atmosphere, you are doing your job as the host in giving your guests a positive experience that will hopefully last longer than the actual event.
5. Observe and Adjust While Hosting A Game Night
In my experience both hosting and attending events, the best hosts are those that make sure all of their guests are having fun and enjoying themselves. I myself only have fun when I know everyone else is, it’s just a character trait I possess.
The simple act of observing your guests and gauging their moods will go a long way in making sure you’re being a great host for game night.
At times it might be difficult to please everyone, but as a game night host, you need to make it your top priority. If when scanning the room you notice that someone might not be having as much fun as the rest of the group, make it a point to check up on them. It could be something as simple as they don’t fully understand the rules of the game being played and therefore not having as much fun. If that is the case, ask the group to pause the game so that you can better explain the rules.
Whatever the situation might be, do your best to resolve it as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Move on to a different game, re-explain instructions, switch around seating, your job as the host is to cater to the needs of your guests. Do what you need to do to get back on track with a smile on everyone’s face.
6. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Or in this case, do! The temperature of your gaming space is a commonly overlooked but important thing to keep in mind when planning a game night.
68 degrees may be comfortable for you to lounge around in, but add a handful of extra people and it’s going to start to get a little too cozy. We like to turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees right before guests arrive. It might feel chilly at first, but don’t be tempted to crank the heat back up right away.
Once everyone settles in and people start mingling, the room temperature is going to increase. There have been countless occasions where we have had to crack open a door or window just to get some relief from the heat.
By adjusting the temperature of the room prior to guests arriving, you avoid the need to do so after the damage has been done. Sure opening a door or window isn’t the worst thing to have to do, but remember, the person that is sitting closest to the new air source might wind up being uncomfortable by being too cold or having their hair blown around.
7. Keep Gameplay Fair During Game Night
As the host of a game night, you possess special privileges that the rest of the party do not have.
One of these privileges is having a bigger say in what games are played. This privilege shouldnt be taken advantage of, but used to optimize fun for the group as a whole. One way you can use your newfound power to regulate what games are being played throughout the evening. If you know there is a particular game that certain people in the group don’t like, you have the power to say that game won’t be played.
When planning a game night, you should take your guest’s favorite board games into consideration when taking out games that will be played. By having the games laid out when guests arrive, you remove any hard decision making from needing to take place.
Of course, there might be situations where a guest goes rogue and suggests a game that is not in the preapproved and decided on game stack. However, you as the host have the power to veto any suggestions.
Anyone who comes into your home and accepts your invitation as a guest, should respect what you have to say throughout the evening and will therefore listen to your advice.
Just keep in mind that even though you have the power of the host, you should not use that power for your own benefit. Being the host means you play an important role in the decision making so that you can better suit your guest’s needs, not solely your own.
8. Don’t Get Wrapped Up In the Details
Okay so this tip is by far the most important one! I know what you’re thinking…
“Don’t get wrapped up in the details?? But you just gave me 7 tips that are highly detail focused!”
You’re not wrong! The above tips are very detail oriented, but the trick to planning and hosting a successful game night is by paying attention to the little details. The hardest and most important part of that is to make sure you are staying present and not getting wrapped up into those details!
The last thing your guests want is a host who is stuck in the kitchen or busy cleaning up after everyone else. Your guests are your friends and sometimes family, they didn’t just come to your house to play some games, they came to hang out and spend time with you! Listen to me when I tell you that becoming a great game night host will not happen overnight. It might not even happen after a few solid game nights.
Sometimes it takes a lot of time to really figure out how all the details fall into place, and that’s totally ok! That is why we don’t want you to get wrapped up in them.
If you’re looking for improvement and to get better at hosting a game night, start by using the tips we listed above when planning a game night. If, during your evening, you find them to be overwhelming, try starting out by adding only a couple at a time and gradually adding them into your strategy.
The most important thing is to make sure that you don’t compromise yourself during game night. Be there for your guests, but don’t forget about your own fun. After all, that’s what game night is all about!
I hope you enjoyed this article! If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave us a comment below.