We needed game night ideas in a bad way.
My parents are notorious for playing card games with family and friends. My siblings have a ginormous collection of board games. Know what my husband and I had? This glorious game collection. You guys. We were in serious need of game night ideas.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love playing games with friends. But sometimes you just don’t know what games to play.
Or the idea of cooking a meal for a group of people can feel like a lot of work…or money. Or both.
Luckily for you, I’m breaking down simple options for a stress-free, fun-filled game night with all of your favorite people.
Game Night Ideas | Food Options
(Almost) no food.
If you don’t want the pressures of cooking for a group, then don’t cook! Schedule your party after typical meal times, like 2:00 pm or 8:00 pm, so that guests have a chance to eat before they arrive. Throw out some chips and salsa, and you’re good to go!
Coordinate a snack or dessert potluck.
Ask your guests to bring their favorite snack or appetizer, or if you can eat truckloads of sugar like I can, their favorite dessert. Then share the wealth!
To celebrate my last day at a job (where I was known for eating more brownies than any human could possibly need), my coworkers hosted a “brownie potluck.” Everyone brought their favorite brownies, and we pretty much ate brownies for lunch. Best. Day. Ever.
Name a theme (southern, Mexican, Italian, etc.) and ask everyone to bring a dish. This will take a little bit of coordination to ensure that three different people don’t bring lasagna. Send a group text or create a private Facebook event to work out the details.
Create the main dish and ask others to bring sides and dessert.
My go-to to feed a group is spaghetti casserole. It’s cheap, stupid easy, and feeds a crowd. (Pro tip: Double the cheese and you’ll be in heeeeeaven.)
Then I ask others to bring a salad, bread, dessert, or drinks. (Click here to download 40 stupid easy recipes to feed a crowd or just feed your family!)
Game Night Ideas | Game Options
If You Enjoy Strategy
Catan. Strategically trade and utilize natural resources to settle an uncharted island faster than your opponents. While the original game is only intended for up to four players, you can purchase an “extension” game to include up to six. There is also a wide assortment of “expansions” that add depth and complexity to the original, such as Catan: Seafarers Expansion. Remember, though, that all extension and expansion games require that you first purchase the original Catan.
Ticket to Ride. It’s 1900, and you and your friends just engaged in a bet to see who can visit the most cities in North America in just seven days. To do this, players collect and play matching train cards to create railway routes connecting cities. Want to explore other continents? How about Europe, Asia, or Africa? Ticket to Ride and Ticket to Ride Europe are standalone games, but other locations can be added as expansions.
Codenames. Spymasters, secret agents, and assassins, oh my! In this game, teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first, using clues given by their spymasters. Variations of this game include an edition that uses pictures to represent agents instead of words, a Disney family edition, and more.
If You Enjoy Trivia
Smart A**. This trivia game allows everyone to take a stab at the answer, using eight increasingly easier clues. The fastest to answer takes the round! Trivia questions range from popular movies to historical geography so that all of your friends can win at least a few rounds.
Anomia. Want to add a little competition-induced pressure and panic to your trivia game? In Anomia, you have to name an example of something belonging to a specific category, like frozen food or dog breeds, before your opponent. Anomia Party Edition provides even more categories and variety.
Timeline: Inventions. In this game, players compete to get rid of all their cards first by correctly placing inventions within a historical timeline. Which came first, glasses or the lightbulb? Guess right and you’re allowed to place your card within the “timeline.” Guess wrong and you have to draw a new card. Inventions not your thing? Timeline also has Discoveries, Music and Cinema, Diversity, and American History versions, and more!
If You Enjoy Lying, Ahem, Bluffing
Balderdash. Everyone makes up their own answer to a question in one of four categories. Fake answers are read aloud, along with the correct answer. Score points for choosing the correct answer and for tricking people into believing your fake answer.
Sheriff of Nottingham. Players take turns acting as the sheriff, who must decide if he/she believes the other players (merchants) as they attempt to deliver hidden goods to market. Merchants can choose to be honest with the sheriff or may bluff or bribe their way in. The person with the most wealth at the end wins.
If You Just Want to Laugh
Watch Ya’ Mouth Family Edition. You may have seen videos of people playing this game, attempting to speak using huge plastic mouthpieces. In Watch Ya’ Mouth, you speak a phrase, like “warm beef meatballs,” while other players guess what you’re saying.
Telestrations. This game is the visual version of the “telephone game” you played as a kid. Everyone is given an erasable sketchbook to draw their secret word. The person to their left then writes in words what they think is drawn, the person to their left draws what they wrote, and so on until the sketchbooks make it back to the original drawer, where the final outcome is revealed! The original Telestrations allows for up to eight players, and the Party Pack up to twelve. Bonus! There’s also a Spanish version.
Spoons. This game only calls for a standard deck of cards and a few spoons. It involves passing cards like a madman, lunging across the table for spoons, and talking trash to your 90-year-old neighbor…or maybe that’s just how we played as kids. (We love you, Opal!) You can find the full rules here.
For Cooperation Games, Where You All Win or Lose Together
Castle Panic. Advertised as a fantastic “gateway” game for those who haven’t played board games in a while, players work together to defend their castle from monsters. You can add new monsters, weapons, and other resources through expansions like The Wizard’s Tower and Dark Titan, or enjoy a zombie twist with Dead Panic.
Pandemic. A team of specialists, each of you with your own strengths, must work together to limit the spread of four disease breakouts and cure them all to win. This is a game that offers a lot of unique editions (like Pandemic: Iberia or Pandemic: Reign Of Cthulhu) and expansions (like On the Brink and In the Lab) that add depth and complexity to the game.
Forbidden Desert. In this game, players work together to uncover artifacts buried deep in the ruins of an ancient desert city before they die of thirst or are buried alive in sand. Reviewers describe it as similar to Pandemic (see above) but shorter and simpler.
If You’ve Got a Big Group
The Resistance. Considered another “gateway” game, The Resistance allows up to ten players and has it all – secret identities, deduction, and deception. Players are assigned a secret role of either resistance fighter or spy and spend the game launching missions and trying to determine who is on what side. Arthur and Merlin more your style? Try The Resistance: Avalon!
Secret Hitler. In this game set in 1930s Germany, up to ten players are assigned the role of either liberal or fascist. The fascists, known only to each other, coordinate to install their leader, while the liberals attempt to find and stop the Secret Hitler before it’s too late.
For Adults and/or Horrible People Only
Cards Against Humanity. You just can’t ignore over 93,000 5-star reviews! One player asks a question from a black card, the other players submit the funniest answer from their hand of white cards, and the question asker rewards a point to whichever answer they like most. Cards can be highly inappropriate, so play at your own risk! With ten million expansions to the game, like the Green, Red, and Blue boxes, you’ll never run out of new questions or answers.
What Do You Meme? Similar to Cards Against Humanity, in this game, you’re matching photos to captions to create the funniest “meme.” Again, proceed with caution, as many captions are inappropriate. This game also includes plenty of expansions to keep things fresh, like Fresh Memes, Basic B****, and Stoner Pack.
If You Just Can’t Shake Those Pesky Kids
Apples to Apples. This is another match-your-best-card-to-the-question-asked game, but very family-friendly, in case you have kids that insist on playing with you.
Exploding Kittens. This card game is like Russian roulette, but with exploding kittens. Draw and play cards with laser pointers, catnip sandwiches, magical enchiladas, and more, to avoid death by kitten.
So there you have it, folks! Plan your food, pick a game, and you’re ready to enjoy a fantastic game night with friends…or neighbors…or that nice couple you’ve been chatting with at your kid’s soccer practice.
What are your go-to game night games? Let us know in the comments!
P.S. Want one central place to find all of the games suggested in this post? Then check out our Amazon game night ideas list here!
*Updated April 14, 2021.
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