How to Host A Game Night

From a Vegas-themed poker night to playing Go Fish with the kids, hosting a game night is about sharing laughs and making memories with your family and friends. Our family loves nothing more than sitting around the table dealing our favorite card game out—and yours will, too. 

If you’re searching for ideas for game night gatherings, we have it all. Learn how to host an elevated game night and wow your loved ones the next time you host.

Why We Love Game Nights

Casual, easy, and guaranteed to keep guests entertained, board game night is the perfect everyday reason to host a gathering. We love having the opportunity to decompress after a long day’s work with our family {no matter how many times we see each other throughout the day} and participate in a little friendly competition. Because of this, any week of the year, you can probably find a few of our family members gathered around the dinner table, cards in hand. 


If your family is like ours, game night gatherings are second nature. Whether you play a different game each week or a family favorite, coming up with ideas for game night are a fun and easy way to elevate an otherwise casual get-together. Show off your favorite dinnerware pieces, create an easy, delicious menu, and invite your friends and family from near and far for a night of fun.

When To Host a Board Game Night

Although we host game nights year-round, winter is the prime time to cozy up inside and let the competition take over. Whether looking for a child-friendly activity during a snow day or hosting a couple’s event for Valentine’s Day, there are endless excuses to plan a board game night in the winter months. When the mood strikes, come up with a new idea for game night, send the invites out, and set up your favorite game!


What Makes a Game Good for Board Game Night?

A good game idea for a game night is one that can accommodate a range of players. We never know who might show up, a bottle of wine in hand, at our board game night gatherings, so we try to choose games that can be played with around 2-6 players. If you’re inviting a larger guest list, plan to have a few games for simultaneous playing or a card game that can work for many people at once. 

3 Tips for Choosing a Game

  1. Learn the rules of the game ahead of time to avoid any confusion and teach your guests when they arrive.
  2. Pick a game that matches your intended vibe for the evening. Chill, calm games can lead to a very different atmosphere than competitive ones that get people hectic and loud. 
  3. Consider how long a round will take so you know how much food and drink to prepare and when to serve it. 

5 Steps to Planning the Perfect Board Game Night

If you’re searching for ideas for game night themes or wondering what to serve at your next Gin Tournament, follow our five simple steps:

Step 1: Choose a Game

First things first, you have to choose the game! There are countless ideas for game nights, but we find even just a few of our family's favorites - Gin, Texas Hold'em, and Charades - can all inspire different tones and themes for game night. Our Gin tournaments are a little more calm and organized (most of the time!), while the physical requirements of Charades lead to a more lively competition and lots of laughter!


Before planning the menu or décor, choose a game {or two} that you enjoy playing and are familiar with. Our go-tos typically include classic games of poker and rummy, which are simple and easy to set up and play for hours on end. From there, you can determine a color scheme, snacks, and other entertaining essentials.

You could also try something new. Some of us recently became addicted to Mahjong and have spent many game nights learning to play and challenging each other to games galore. If you’re going to center your gathering around a newer game, make sure you’ve studied up on the rules and can teach your friends and family members.

Ideas for Game Night Games

Whether you’re pulling out the trusty vintage chess board or looking to invest in a new idea for game night, we have a few tried-and-true brands we love. Many of them work hard to design stylish game sets that make playing even more fun and keep your gathering looking sophisticated: 

Step 2: Choose a Theme

Birthdays and dinner parties aren’t the only type of gathering you can theme — board game nights are the perfect excuse to unlock your inner designer and come up with creative ideas for game night. Every detail, from colors, textures, table linens, and more, can be hand-chosen to create a thematic vision to match your chosen board game. 

If you have time to prepare for your board game night, the theme options are endless! Black-tie Vegas themes are a popular choice for formal poker nights, but something more subdued, like leaning into the red and black colors of your deck of cards, is just as thoughtful. Consider your games and your intended tone of the evening, and let those inspire your theme.

Step 3: Send the Invites

Sending board game night invites depends on the scope of the gathering. Sometimes, it’s spur of the moment; other times, it’s planned weeks in advance. 

If it’s a last-minute event, we won’t hesitate to shoot a quick text to the friend or family group chat. If you do this, include the delicious menu to entice more attendees, encourage casual attire to stay comfortable, and let the game be the focus. Come as you are – and maybe bring a bottle of bubbly. 

If it’s a more formal game night that includes a plated dinner, for instance, we’ll try to send a digital or mail invite in advance so our potential guests can plan ahead. For these, it’s a good idea for game night invitations to include a dress code, ask for drink requests, and inform them of the menu so they can let us know if they have any allergies. 

Step 4: Create the Menu

The key to a perfect board game night menu is focusing on make-ahead recipes so the host can focus on playing rather than cooking. Dishes that can be self-serve, such as small bites or a potluck-style menu, allow everyone in attendance to load their plates throughout the night. We love to  stick to cozy, cold-weather recipes for many of our board game nights.


Should You Serve a Full Meal at Board Game Night?

Depending on the type of board game night you’re hosting, you may be wondering if you need to serve a full meal. Most game nights call for easy, serve-yourself finger foods, such as charcuterie or appetizers, but if you’re hosting an elevated, fancier event, you could consider serving dinner before the main game begins. There’s no one-size-fits-all rule for this, so design your menu in whatever way feels cohesive with the idea for your game night gathering. 


Simple and easy handheld bites or finger foods are a great idea for game night menus: 


For a more sit-down dinner type of board game night, consider cooking a main that matches the cozy, lowkey atmosphere of the event: 


The best idea for game night desserts is to keep them easy to share with your board game night partner, or to snack on during the last few hours of playing:



    It’s a good idea for game night to have drinks available for guests of all ages, so nonalcoholic and alcoholic recipes are a must! Some of our go-to drink options are:

    Step 5: Set the Table

    In some cases, the table you dine on will double as your playing space. It’s a good idea for game night that if you’re serving a full meal, be prepared to clear dishes and wipe the surface before the game begins, or consider a different entertaining space in the home for playing. For a more casual finger food menu, we recommend planning to serve buffet style in order to keep the focus on playing. If we want to break to sit down and eat, there will be  plates, rolled napkins, and utensils set to the side and ready to go. 

    For the tabletop, lean into the theme of the board game night gathering when pulling dinnerware and serveware to set a table you and your guests love. A casual table for small bites and snacks may include serving bowls, matching serving utensils, and napkins, while a formal one could need pre-set place settings. Don’t forget to spruce up the bar area and include matching cocktail napkins!


    Game Night Entertaining Essentials

    Whether you’re preparing for an annual Texas Hold ‘Em gathering or inviting over a few friends for a last-minute board game tournament, it’s a smart idea for game night to have these entertaining items on hand: 

    Table Linens

    The general idea for game night table linens is to keep it casual, so there’s not normally a need for a full tablecloth setup. Unless your game play table could use a nice, clean surface to play on - tablecloths are a wonderful solution for keeping cards, tiles, game pieces, etc. in place! We love using our sustainable cotton-linen cloth napkins for mealtime and cocktail napkins for the drink area, but for ultra-laid-back events, feel free to bring out the disposable options. 

    Serveware Ideas for Game Night

    For most of our board game nights, we’re serving small bites and serve-yourself dishes, so choosing the right serveware is key. Serving platters are some of the most versatile dishes in the kitchen and are perfect for keeping the main dishes hot. Something like our Iris Blue mango wood boards can work for charcuterie, crudités, fruit, and more. 

    If you have any chips, popcorn, or nuts, it’s important to have a variety of serving bowls on hand. Mix and match bowls from multiple collections or stick to a few from the same collection. Your guests can bring their own servings to their spot at the game table with a small rimmed bowl and enjoy your food as they play. 


    Pro tip: keep the corresponding serving utensils next to the correct dish so to take any guessing out of the equation as guests serve themselves.

    Tabletop Accessories

    Include the typical tabletop accessories to complete the serving area and suit your menu, such as salt and pepper shakers, butter dishes, spoon rests, or pitchers. The central idea for game night is that less is more—set out only what’s necessary on your dining table to leave enough room for gameplay.  

    How to Decorate for Board Game Night

    If there is a theme or idea for game night, lean into it. For instance, if you’re hosting a card game night, incorporate pieces from the Signature White CollectionCrew Collection, and red linens to mirror the white, black, and red colors of the cards. If you’re playing dominos, stick to a timeless black and white dish set or feature the Fundamentals Collection to match the wood case the dominos are usually kept in. 


    For an immersive idea for board game night, incorporate the tabletop décor throughout the entire home. Decorate other entertaining spaces your guests may see, such as by adding matching hand towels in the guest bathroom or bar area. Use the central color schemes and display dinnerware collections throughout your home to achieve a cohesive look. 

    Inspiration and Ideas for Game Nights

    There are countless ideas for game night themes if you know where to look. Here are five to inspire you: 

    • Focus on the “hearts” suit from your deck of cards for a Valentine’s Day couple’s card tournament.
    • Invite your girlfriends over for a Mahjong girls’ night — just keep it to 4 or 8 players.
    • Host a lively Saturday night of charades for friends and family of all ages.
    • Invite your book group to discuss your latest read over a game of Scrabble.
    • Host your own version of our Winning Night of Cards Gathering and make memories that will last a lifetime. 

    With a few ideas for game night themes, a little planning, and a tasty menu, anyone can host a board game night. Roll the dice, deal the cards, set the board—and most importantly, have fun!  

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