The nights are getting cooler and there is a crispness in the air. That could only mean one thing, my favorite season is approaching! Autumn, Fall or what I like to call, cozy season! The perfect time of year to start planning a cozy game night. Grab some candles and snuggle up with a blanket, because we are about to tell you how to plan a cozy game night during the colder months.
As outdoor summer activities come to an end and we start spending more time inside, we no longer have that need to be outside, but rather the desire for cozy comfort indoors. It’s the time of year where the sun is still shining, but the days are beginning to shorten. When you start trading in your shorts and t-shirts for jeans and sweaters.
The leaves are falling and the smell of warm fires and apple cider fills the air. What a great feeling, isn’t it?
What does a cozy game night entail?
A cozy game night is all about atmosphere and setting the mood. Think comfy blankets, soft candlelight, and warm food served while playing beautifully designed board games. Cozy game nights are all about a homey, intimate, and inviting aesthetic.
How to Host a Cozy Game Night
At this point, I think I have done a pretty good job of helping you visualize how your upcoming cozy game night will look. So let’s dive into how exactly you will make that vision a reality!
Step 1: Set the Mood
Like I mentioned earlier, cozy game nights are all about the aesthetic and atmosphere, so it is only natural that our first step would be gathering our mood setting ingredients.
Candles for your Cozy Game Night
Visualize your ultimate cozy evening at home. What did it look like? For me, the first thing to come to mind is candles, lots and lots of candles! After selecting your game night space, take a look around for surfaces that can be used for display. I prefer white/offwhite candles for their classic and minimalist look.
I always buy candles that are made from soy wax because they are natural and safer for myself and the environment. More often than not I use unscented candles because I’m sensitive to fragrances and they’re more for show than smelling, but if I do buy a candle with a scent I go for essential oil and natural scented candles such as these Aira Soy Candles that are available in many scents.
When laying out candles, keep in mind that you need a heat stable surface with plenty of space above for the fire to burn without touching anything that might be flammable. We want to add light to the room, not LIGHT UP the room!
You can also opt in for some battery operated candles if you do not want an actual flame in your home. These work just as well!
I like to arrange candles in little groupings or “vignettes”. Having anywhere from three to five candles in a couple of different areas around the room will allow for a nice warm glow that will fill the room without being too dark or too bright in one specific area.
If your room has a fireplace, don’t be afraid to light that baby up! If the weather outside isn’t quite cool enough yet for a full on fire, place some larger candles in the fireplace to create a warming environment without heating up the room.
Make sure you have enough candles so that there is good visibility for playing your board games. You don’t want to ruin the beauty of the candlelight by having to turn on actual lights. Trust me on this, you can never have too many candles and you won’t regret setting the mood with some old fashioned candlelight.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, don’t forget a scented candle or two! I like to choose scents that are relaxing and refreshing such as lavender, lemon and eucalyptus. For really chilly days around the holidays, scents like cinnamon and vanilla make for an amazing atmosphere. More often than not I use unscented candles because I’m sensitive to fragrances and they’re more for show than smelling, but if I do buy a candle with a scent I go for essential oil and natural scented candles such as these candles that come in many different scents.
Set up comfortable seating for guests
Next up on our mood setting ‘to do list’ is creating comfortable seating for guests. Think floor pillows, cushy couches/chairs, and maybe even a bean bag or two! Keep in mind that you won’t just be lounging around, but playing board games, just in comfy cozy style. Arrange your seating around a low coffee table and make sure there is enough room for everyone to sit and play.
Once you have that situated, it’s time to up the comfort level! How might we do that you ask? Well by adding blankets silly! We don’t want just any blankets either, we’re looking for ultimate softness! My favorite blankets to use around my home are made of fleece. They’re super soft and solid so no pesky pulls and fuzzy left on clothing. I also love my flannel blankets as well!
Feel free to toss some blankets around the seating area so they are easily accessible for guests. If you’re extra like me, you can get a little creative with your display options. Blanket ladders and large woven baskets are not only practical, but also aesthetically pleasing and will only add to your comfy cozy atmosphere. We especially love this York Duck Woven Seagrass Belly Basket and this Extra Large Storage Basket.
Blankets with unique and interesting designs are great for hanging on ladders that way you can see the design and guests can choose their favorite with ease! Rolling them up and sticking them in a basket is a decorative and functional way to keep them tucked away until needed. Additionally, the earth tones from the basket will further aid in setting the mood for the evening.
The final mood setting element I implement in my cozy game nights is plenty of squishy comfy pillows! This is another place where you can get creative. Rather than buying a million different decorative pillows, I have super comfortable pillow inserts that I can change the covers for depending on the event and time of year.
Some of my favorite pillow covers include this Monopoly themed pillow cover and this vintage Scrabble themed pillow cover. There’s also a vintage Monopoly themed pillow cover that is super cute too! If you like to keep it simple, then here are some white throw pillow covers perfect for any room or setting!
Step 2: Create Your Cozy Menu
Now that you’re a ‘mood setting super star,’ it’s time to plan your cozy game night menu. For me, when I imagine cozy cool nights, I think of warm home cooked meals. But when hosting a game night, I want to spend the evening with my guests, not in the kitchen preparing a feast.
With that in mind, I’ve created a simple menu filled with honey dishes that won’t take you hours to make. With a combination of prepared “cheat” ingredients and easy cooking techniques, your guests will be raving about the food AND you will be enjoying their company.
Chili Bar With All The Fixings
Easy Stovetop Apple Cider
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Chili Bar with all the fixings!
Chili is one of those foods that is just so satisfying to eat and super simple to make! It’s warm and spicy (if you like), and there are so many ways you can dress it up and serve it.
I created this recipe after I moved out of my parents house. I based it off of my dad’s chili recipe, which I love, but I made some tweaks to align more with my tastes. The original recipe is made in the instant pot, but it can easily be adjusted for the stovetop or slow cooker.
For a chili bar, I would recommend the instant pot or slow cooker version, as it can be made before guests arrive and kept warm until ready to be served. Because it is so versatile, chili is a great fall/winter meal option for get-togethers. To kick it up a notch, we’re turning it buffet style and offering plenty of options for guests to dress up their plates!
Kait’s Instant Pot Chili Recipe
Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 20 mins | Serves: 6
- 1 lb Ground Beef
- 1 Can Bean Trio or Light Kidney Beans (drained and rinsed)
- ½ Can Plain Tomato Sauce
- 1 Green Bell Pepper Diced (about 1 inch)
- ½ White Onion Chopped
- 3 Tablespoons Trader Joes Chili Seasoning or any chili seasoning packet
- ½ Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ½ Teaspoon each of Salt and Pepper (+ more to taste)
- Franks Red Hot (to taste)
- ¼ Cup Water
- Cooking Oil
- Turn Instant Pot to “Sautee” Mode
- Once hot add about a tablespoon of cooking oil and Diced Onion. Sautee until softened.
- Add in the Ground Beef and season with salt a pepper.
- Once the beef is browned, turn off Sautee Mode. Add in the Green Bell Pepper, Rinsed and Drained Kidney Beans, 1/2 Can Tomato Sauce and stir.
- Add in Chili seasoning, Garlic Powder, Salt, Pepper and Franks Red Hot.
- Stir until well combined, cover and Press the “Bean/Chili” Button (should be set to 15 minutes) *Make sure the knob on top is set to sealing.
- Once the time is up, quick release the pressure. Give the chili a good stir and taste for seasoning, add more to taste. Serve with all the fixings and Enjoy!
Dress it up!
Here are the toppings and bases that I use when serving up my chili bar at my game nights!
- White Rice
- Tortilla Chips
- Tater Tots
- Shredded Cheese
- Sour Cream
- Sliced Avocado
- Red Onion
- Crumbled Bacon
- Pickled Jalapenos
- Sliced Green Onions
- Lime Wedges
- Hot Sauce
- Ranch Dressing
On the Side:
- Corn Bread
- Garlic Toast
Add Some Flair:
If you’re serving a larger crowd or just hungrier guests in general, add these along with your chili bar spread!
- I like to also include some hotdogs and buns with my chili bar. Guests can eat them as usual or add some chili on top for chili dogs!
- A heartier side dish to include is cornbread casserole! If that’s too much work, creamed corn is always a yummy option.
Step 3: Selecting Your Cozy Game Night Board Games
The final step to planning a cozy game night is, of course, selecting your games! Feel free to select your favorite/go to games, but if you want to round out your cozy atmosphere and mood, then pick some of the games below.
I put together what we believe to be the most aesthetically pleasing and comfy themed board games! So without further ado, let’s jump right in!
Everdell is a game of dynamic tableau building and worker placement. On their turn, a player can take one of three actions:
- Place a Worker
- Play a Card
- Prepare for the next season
What we love about this game and the reason it is our top pick for cozy game night, is the creative design of the board game. It’s colorful, artistic and down right beautiful to look at!
Ganesha is an abstract, easy to learn, family friendly game surrounding the Indian god of wisdom! The game includes a mandala game board and jem playing pieces which makes it another beautiful game!
There is also a digital version available for play on tabletopia for those nights where virtual games nights are on the agenda!
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is a tile placement game set in imperial China. Players act as artisans decorating the palace lake with floating lanterns. The artisan who earns the most honor before the festival starts, wins the game!
Lantern’s elegant and engaging gameplay features a unique mechanic where players must balance the placement of their tiles, OR risk helping their opponents on their way to victory.
What we like about Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is the warm and colorful artwork. It’s easy to add to the cozy aesthetic when playing this game alongside the soft candlelight we mentioned above.
From majestic Maples to ancestral Oaks, players nurture their trees aiming to thrive over the course of a year in a beautiful National Park.
In the spring, players carefully grow their trees, scoring as hikers enjoy traveling the trails in summer.
When autumn comes, leaves fall in the ever-changing direction of the wind, guided to cover the terrain and other players’ leaves. Points are awarded in winter for the most coverage of each region in the park.
Although Bosk covers all of the seasons, we feel the artwork and game pieces resemble the month of autumn more closely. The colorful trees and leaves bring a sense of warmth and comfort for the coming cold months.
Draft dice and use the tools-of-the-trade in Sagrada to carefully construct your stained glass window masterpiece.
In more detail, each player builds a stained glass window by building up a grid of dice on their player board. Each board has some restrictions on which color or shade (value) of die can be placed there.
Dice of the same shade or color may never be placed next to each other. Dice are drafted in player order, with the start player rotating each round, snaking back around after the last player drafts two dice.
Scoring is variable per game based on achieving various patterns and varieties of placement…as well as bonus points for dark shades of a particular hidden goal color.
You’re probably starting to sense a theme with the games we have chosen as our go to cozy board games. Sargasso contains all the beautiful artwork and game pieces we desire for the perfect cozy game night.
In Chai, you will step into the shoes of a tea merchant, combining tea flavours to make a perfect blend. Specializing in either rooibos, green, oolong, black or white tea, you will buy and collect ingredients to fulfill your customers’ orders.
Tea and cozy go hand and hand. Put on a kettle of water, arrange an assortment of teas, grab Chai and you’re ready for the perfect cozy game night!
Calico is a puzzly tile-laying game of quilts and cats. In Calico, players compete to sew the coziest quilt as they collect and place patches of different colors and patterns.
Each quilt has a particular pattern that must be followed, and players are also trying to create color and pattern combinations that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also able to attract the cuddliest cats!
I hope you find this article helpful when planning your cozy game night! This time of year is my favorite for hosting game nights and I hope you find the same joy and relaxation that I do from cozy themed game nights!
Don’t see your favorite game? Let us know in the comments down below what your favorite cozy themed board game is to play!