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How to Host an Adult Game Night

Discover the art of hosting an adult game night all within the comfort of your own home. Food, drinks, and a few games are all you need to have some fun tonight.

S'mores are being held up in front of a lit fire on a patio during an adult game night.

A couple of weeks ago, on literally the hottest day of our summer here in Missouri, we hosted a fun, intimate, laugh-until-your-belly-aches adult game night.

It is a night I’ll probably always remember. I invited my mom and grandparents and AJ invited his parents (his grandparents live out of town). So much fun!

I especially loved that we could get together with family without it having to be some huge, stressful event where we felt obligated to invite everyone in our entire families. Some events were just meant to be more cozy.

Although we could have stuffed 20+ people into our modest home, it was over 100 degrees and I thought we could all use a little extra space.  We’ll just leave the larger gathering for Thanksgiving later this year…

It’s so much fun to see the dynamics between different groups of people in a small setting. Especially when it comes to a game night. People are able to feel a bit more relaxed, from what I’ve observed, and forget about all their worries.

All I know is we had so much fun hosting our adult game night that I had people thanking me the day after, telling me how badly they needed that. We ate simple but delicious food, made cocktails, played a couple of adult games, and had a fire on the patio. One day we’ll look back on that summer night with so much nostalgia. 

It was just so much fun living in the moment for a few short hours. And believe me, everyone deserves time to unwind like that on occasion…

Now that I’ve convinced you to host one, let’s get into all the nitty-gritty details.

Tips for an Adult Game Night

Game prep

We were lucky and already had Cards Against Humanity at home, but decided to add a couple more in the mix. The weekend before our party, we purchased a couple of other games. Just be mindful of having enough to choose from and try to have a variety.

A couple of card games are laid out for playing on a game night.

Also, set any games up in advance (if they require it) before guests start arriving. This will save you time later. If your games are new, the night before skim the directions or watch a YouTube video so it’s fresh in your memory.

Food Prep

Prepping food in advance is key. Especially when you’re me and want to make things from scratch. 

For one, I made homemade bread for the sandwiches we were serving a day or two in advance. I stored the loaves in the fridge and let them sit on the counter to come to room temperature a few hours before the party. If you’re cooking from scratch, prepare as much as you can ahead of time.

The morning of the adult game night, I picked the basil from the garden and made the pesto. It was fresh but was still prepped in advance enough to not have to stress about throwing it together last minute. I sliced all the cheese that morning also, so I could focus on making the hot dips an hour before people started arriving. It is always best to do any chopping in the morning so everything is ready to go later.

A freshly made pesto is ready to go onto some paninis for an adult game night.
Sliced bread and cheese are waiting to be made into paninis.

I even sliced the fruit up and arranged them on kebabs for ease and convenience the morning of. Dessert was a make-your-own kinda thing (s’mores), so I didn’t even have to mess with that. It’s okay to stick with simpler things when cooking for a crowd. Save your energy where you can.

Cleaning prep

Another thing I did the week leading up to the adult game night was to start cleaning up the patio area since I knew we’d be having a fire at the end of the night. For example, AJ and I added fresh mulch to the patio area several days before the get-together. We also made sure the garden was tended to (though we never got to all the weeds–luckily, no one really took a gander) and waited on adding our new patio chair cushions until the day of. I wiped down my bamboo chimes and refreshed the hummingbird feeder. Those little things add up.

I would also recommend power washing any decks, patios, porches, etc. before the day of, too. It just helps being prepared and cleaning the things you don’t get to on a weekly basis. 

A newly cleaned patio is ready for some fun.

Of course, the day before the event I cleaned the house which just so happened to fall on my normal cleaning day. All I had to do the day of was sweep the patio off outside, and inside change the hand towels and vacuum one last time.

More Tips

Be sure you have enough seating for all the guests in attendance a couple weeks before hosting your adult game night. If you need to purchase any fold-out chairs, this gives you plenty of time to find some. We personally bought these sturdy white chairs HERE at IKEA and absolutely love them. They are so easy to store and work wonderfully inside or outside. They blend in well with just about any environment and cost only $15 each. Such a great value.

If it’s particularly hot outside, consider adding extra fans to the room you’ll be playing games in. Keep people comfortable. Cold drinks and fans can work wonders in extreme temperatures.

How to Host an Adult Game Night

Games

Jumbo Jengo, Who’s Most Likely To, and Cards Against Humanity were the games we had on hand for our game night. Then, one of our guests brought Battle of the Sexes, so we had plenty to keep us entertained. 

A man and woman hold up a board game.

We ended up starting with Battle of the Sexes as a courtesy to our guest. Then, later, we switched to Who’s Most Likely To–a hilarious card game with different scenarios in which the entire group had to decide who would be most likely to do it. This game was well worth the money, believe me. None of us had played it before, but it was so easy and fun.

We didn’t need more games since this one game was so entertaining and we played for so long. But your group of friends may feel differently. Better to have too many than not enough at the ready. Plan for 3-4 games just in case. 

A game of Jenga sits on top of a table.

I’ve already mentioned the importance of having a variety of games on hand to choose from, but in particular read the crowd while they’re there. If you can tell several people feel awkward about playing games like Cards Against Humanity, have a PG option on hand to switch to.

Additionally, recognize when there’s a lull and when to start a new game. If you’re not playing board games or games with a clear end point anytime soon, it’s useful to realize when people are starting to get bored. Always have the next game in mind to suggest (but also don’t feel like you have to stick to a timeline either). 

Food + Drink

Food and drink do not need to be something to be stressed about. My advice is to keep the food itself simple, but put a unique touch to it. 

Since I’m a homemade kinda gal, that meant making the bread and pesto from scratch and assembling and grilling them into paninis stuffed with meat and cheese. Even though I was serving sandwiches, I really wanted to serve a hot meal. Sandwiches, easy. Grilled sandwiches made from scratch, better and delicious. 

Delicious grilled paninis sit in front of fruit skewers on a dinner table.

I took this mindset and applied it to everything, save for s’mores which I knew would be great for the fire on the patio and less work for me. 

We served fruit on skewers which added a little more sophistication to a plain old bowl of fruit. I served tortilla chips, but made my homemade queso and a corn dip recipe I had been eyeing on Pinterest for a while. A level up from plain old tortilla chips. I’m all about taking the mundane and making it livelier without a ton of extra work.

If you have cocktails you want to serve, I would recommend making a pitcher or two of something in advance or setting up a cocktail “buffet” where people make their own drinks. The latter would be more expensive and may take more work to set up, but could be really fun for guests. 

A man pours lemonade into a glass for a cocktail.

AJ wanted to be the bartender that night and was great at keeping drinks refilled. But looking back I wonder if it would’ve been easier on him to prep them beforehand. We had considered this, but ultimately decided to let each guest request their own drink instead of making a pitcher of one type of mixed drink only. Suit yourself on that one. Just be sure you have tea and/or punch, too, for those not partaking in the hard drinking.

Ambiance

I feel like ambiance is important for any party even if you’re not buying special decor for it. Since there wasn’t a strict theme and it was a small, casual party we chose not to decorate. Luckily, my home is already pretty put together so it was still party ready. 

However, you can easily add more ambiance by following a few simple rules. 

For one, if the weather permits and you have a fire pit, have a fire outside. People don’t want to stay in one spot during a party, they just don’t. Heading outdoors is always a good idea, even if for just a few minutes. And something about fires just gets people excited. It’s a great way to end an evening. Whether you’re just lounging and chatting, having a drink, or making s’mores like we did, a fire is always a good idea.

People are gathering around a fire on a patio.

Another thing I like to do to add ambiance is to add fresh flowers. They smell amazing, make any space look lovely, and are cheaper than many realize. I usually spend $5 on a bouquet, but if you have your own garden of flowers to choose from it’s even more affordable. You don’t have to go too crazy. One bouquet in the kitchen and one in the living room is sufficient. Stuff some wildflowers in a mason jar and you’ve just added more charm to your space instantly. 

A gladiolus flower sits in a pitcher of water on a side table.

My last idea is a bit more practical: Think through the seating, specifically where additional chairs will be placed. That is, if you have to add any at all. 

I mentioned the IKEA chairs we added in, but just as importantly they need to still allow for a good flow in the room. Don’t block hallways, entryways, or the path to the kitchen where people may wander during the festivities. People may come and go, especially to the kitchen and bathroom during their time over. Be sure to make sure the chairs are arranged in a way that is not awkward. Nothing kills ambiance more than walking all over other people as they’re trying to get from one place to the next. 

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4 thoughts on “How to Host an Adult Game Night

  1. Such a fun night and very much needed! Thank you, and AJ, for hosting a night we won’t forget!

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