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Planning ahead for a great game night with friends

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Posted: Friday, November 29, 2013 9:28 am

There’s an art to balancing the food, the games and the music for a perfect game night among friends and family.

We’ve got five ideas to keep the focus on the games and the fun, not the stress of entertaining.

Prepare the space

Put your dining room table along one wall for food and drinks. Set up the couches and chairs in a big circle around a table. Make sure the table is cleared off, and that there are enough seats close to flat surfaces so people can set down plates and cups.

Pick games ahead of time

Select five for the night, and plan to play about three. Pick games that can be played by a large group of players, or by pairs and teams. Make them easy to understand for a newbie player.

Don’t choose games that require sharing a lot of personal information with people you’ve just met.

Avoid games like Charades that put one person in the spotlight, as some might feel nervous.

Make it a potluck

With Facebook event invitations and email, it’s easy for guests to sign on to bring a side dish or drinks. That way people know there will be food, there’s generally enough for everyone who turns up, and people tend to bring food that’s easy to eat while holding a hand of cards. As host, you’ll just provide the plates, napkins and cups.

Know and explain the rules of the game

One host can be the rule-explainer, who makes sure he or she knows how all the games are played. If your house rules deviate from the written rules at all, it’s good to say so upfront.

Have an endpoint in mind

Some games have a finish line on the board. Others can linger on for hours. Set up a number of round or a score to play to, and the game can end there. But be flexible, too — if it’s the end of the night and people are getting restless or tired, it may be time to say, “OK, last round.”

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