Wednesday, May 23, 2012

5 Tips For Pulling Off A Great Game Party

Host Your Own Mini Game Con For Your Friends!

Throwing a game party can mean a lot of different things.  You might throw a regular party themed after a favorite game.  You might throw a party and plan to play a lot of large party games that accommodate all the guests at once.  However, one of the most fun game parties is the game party where you get multiple tables running a variety of games all at once.  This lets your guests play a bunch of different board and card games all night.  It can be tough to do well because you’re essentially trying to throw one whole party that includes a lot of little gatherings.  Different games will get over with at different times and you want to keep people flowing from game to game while having time to mingle and have a good time.  The multi-table game party can be tricky, but very rewarding when it works.  It’s kind of like your very own mini game convention where you and your guests get to enjoy a lot of game playing fun in a very short amount of time.  Here are 5 tips to help you pull it off.

You know what‘s happening at this party.  You know it’s also a party where you want to break guests up into smaller groups to play a bunch of different games.  This is very different than a traditional party that usually just encourages mingling or plans activities for the whole group.  It may not be the right cup of tea for everyone you know.  Be clear when you are inviting people and take care who you invite.  Your non-gamer friends may be excited to show up to a party you’re throwing and then get bored and disinterested when “everyone is just playing board games”.  This can pull away from the flow of the party and ruin the fun for everyone.  Make sure you are clear about what type of party this really is and try to invite the people you know will have fun with it.

Food.  Lots of food!

A party is a party regardless of what theme or activity you’ve picked.  Game parties are no different.  They still need the basics.  Clean your house, arrange the furniture for maximum space, put up some decorations if you got them, and above all, have lots of food.  Food should be abundant at a party so the guests have something to do and something to gather around when they aren’t directly involved in a game or activity.  Food provides both entertainment and energy to keep going all night.  If the food starts to dwindle, you may find your party dwindling right along with it.  Guests won’t say that’s why they’re leaving.  Heck, they might not even think that’s why they’re leaving.  They’ll simply find that’s its getting a bit late or they are getting a bit tired when some more chips and salsa and another crab cake would have tempted them into staying.

It will be tempting to sit down as soon as a few guests arrive and jump into playing a game as soon as possible.  After all you want to play some games.  You went to all the trouble of throwing this party and everything, right?  You need to resist this urge for an hour or so if you can.  You need to make guests feel welcome.  Greet them when they arrive.  Direct them toward the food and give them the lay of the land.  Tell them what the current games are that are being played and find them something to join in on.  If you can resist jumping into a game you’ll be better able to help get the party going.  If you absolutely can’t resist (I know I certainly have trouble with this) then at least make sure you are in a central location and that you are playing a game you can walk away from for a few minutes at a time when you need to greet new guests.  After the party gets going, don’t get so caught up in a game that you’re not available to help organize the next round of playing if you need to.  Remember, you need to keep things flowing from game to game.
Get Things Going With One Awesome Game

So the guests will just show up and you’ll be like, “Hey, what sounds like fun to play?”  They’ll pick something out from your impressively vast game collection and the party will just get underway.  Perfect right?  WRONG!  You need to plan a main event.  It’s all well and good to try and get multiple tables with various games going eventually, but when guests walk through the door you want to say “Hey guys!  Are you ready to play this game?  It’s gonna be a lot of fun.”  You absolutely do NOT want to engage in the “so what do you feel like playing?” discussion.  You’re trying to throw a party not waste the first hour trying to get your guests to plan the party for you.  The best games for main events are game you can easily get going at a few different tables.  Games you can get multiple copies of to play or games that have enough pieces to accommodate multiple games are good choices.  For example, if you have enough boxes of Dominion for a few games or if your players are fond of Magic the Gathering, these are games that can work across a few tables. Beyond the game you want to be the main event, you’ll of course want to have some tables with alternate games.  If you have an extensive game collection its best to put out a limited selection of games you think would be fun to play and not overwhelm guests with too many choices.  Games that play in under an hour are most optimal.  Guests will have more fun if they get a chance to play lots of games instead of getting locked down into one 4 hours epic challenge that ends up being the only game they play that night.  Above all, guests will have fun in they spend most of their time actually playing some games instead of wasting half the party talking about what they should play.

A good game party, like any party, needs to provide the opportunity to meet with other guests and talk to different people.  As games finish up, make sure you take the time to organize people into the next game to keep things moving.  When you do this, try and mix up who is playing with who.  This can be tough.  Convincing people to leave the table they are at and go sit down with new people may take some effort.  Don’t be too pushy towards people that want to stay together, but encourage those that are willing to try mixing it up.  This way people can make new friends and enjoy different play experiences.

Well that’s just a few tips on how to get this type of party going.  If you’ve got any great advice or experience throwing a great game party, leave a comment and let us know what’s worked for you.


  1. Good information here. I really enjoy reading them every day. I’ve learned a lot from them. Thanks so much for sharing this information. Greatly help me being a newbie.

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  2. We love throwing game nights at our house. We keep it on a smaller scale, though, and only invite about 6 adults over. We don't play average board games. We are really into Eurogames like Settlers of Catan and Dominion. These can accommodate more players if you have the expansions.

  3. Does this only apply to parties only for children or are these tips for an adult party as well? I think they apply to both. I'm just curious what the original intent of the post was considering the site is about raising gaming children. :)

  4. This was aimed primarily at adult parties, though can certainly be somewhat applied to kids parties. Though the site does aim at providing stories and advice for including kids in games, that is not the entirety of our content. We produce family-friendly content about games, but it's not all family-focused. I hope you enjoyed the article and keep coming back! :)

  5. It's hard to find good articles these days. This one is really good.

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