CREATE THE PERFECT GAME NIGHT AGENDA
How to create a game night agenda that works for your guests
There is a fine line between being over prepared and under prepared for game night. We think it is important to have an agenda set ahead of time for your game night, but we think it is even more important to be flexible! In fact, we don't recommend publicizing your agenda to your guests at all. Write out your agenda and keep it handy, but don't expect to keep to this schedule. You will need to be prepared for guests to arrive late, games to take longer to play than expected, and extended social breaks. Don't stress about your game night agenda falling by the wayside within the first half hour.
The main purpose of having an agenda is to plan out the general flow of your evening. Will you do snacks/appetizers before the first game or do you plan to jump right in? How many games do you think you'll wind up playing? At what point will you stop for dinner/drinks? These are the types of questions your agenda should answer.
Below we provide out top considerations for your game night agenda as well as an example agenda to get you started.
TOP CONSIDERATIONS WHEN MAKING A GAME NIGHT AGENDA
DON'T FRET ABOUT TIMING
While it is perfectly fine to create an agenda with set times (guests arrive at 5pm, dinner at 7pm) you should be prepared for this timing to be thrown out the window quickly. Any times that you put in your agenda should be loosely made and able to be fluid.
In fact, instead of times we recommend basing your agenda on milestones throughout the night. For example, instead of saying first game starts at 6pm, you might say 20 minutes after the last guest arrives we will begin the first game. This way you don't feel so obliged to keep to a set schedule.
The best game nights are ones that are carefully planned and laid out but allowed to flow naturally, so the less you appear worried about the agenda, the better!
BE GENEROUS WITH BREAKS
We have mentioned this before but it is worth repeating - not everyone finds board games as fun as you do! Of course, if someone has agreed to come to a game night they are willing to play, but remember that board games aren't the number 1 reason to attend game night for everyone - a lot of people simply want to interact with other people and socialize. Keep this in mind when planning out your game night, especially if you are planning to play heavier games that don't lend themselves to a lot of socialization.
For every hour of plans you have, you should also incorporate 15 minutes of break time in the agenda. This doesn't have to be firm and fixed - if you notice people starting to feel fatigued, offer a drink break. Even though you have everything planned out in your head, it is important that the flow of the night feels natural to your guests.
MIX IN OTHER ACTIVITIES
Just because you are hosting a board game night does not mean you can't mix in other activities. Having varying types of entertainment allow for some down time to recover from mentally taxing games.
Some of our favorite types of alternative entertainment include: Jackbox party games, darts, pool, dexterity games (paper football, anyone?), and even some good old college drinking games. The more creative and varied your activities, the better!
GO WITH THE FLOW
This is the most important consideration of all. No matter what happens to your game night, go with the flow! Don't be worried when your filler game takes an hour instead of 20 minutes, or when dinner starts later than you planned. Remember that what really matters is that everyone is having fun. Let the night flow as naturally as possible, otherwise people will notice and will likely be uncomfortable with you rushing them.
This is a party after all, so do you're best to relax and enjoy the ride!
EXAMPLE GAME NIGHT AGENDA
This agenda is a good baseline to help you get your agenda started. As always, you should customize every aspect of your game night to match your audience.
FINISH UP YOUR PREP
You should aim to have your food and drinks prepped, your games pre-set as much as possible, and all other small details ironed out. Use the time between finished and your first guest arriving to relax!!
GUESTS START ARRIVING
This is the time you publicized to your guests to begin arriving, though its likely some won't show up until later. Your only job at this point is to grab your guests a drink as they arrive and socialize with them!
(or when half of your guests have arrived)
At this point, you have about half of your guests inside. This is a great time to bring out your pre-made appetizers or snacks if you have any. Allow your guests to indulge and socialize. This would be a good time to put the finishing touches on the main course if needed.
(or about 20 minutes after the last guest arrives)
BEGIN GAME #1
We recommend a good filler game as the first game of the night. It gets everyone settled in and ready for games but doesn't hit them too hard right away. We think Kingdomino or Carcassonne would make great choices!
(or the end of Game 1)
BREAK / DINNER
Be sure to allow plenty of time for everyone to enjoy dinner if you are serving it. We don't recommend eating and gaming at the same time! Use this time to socialize with everyone and keep an eye on food and drink levels in case anything needs refilled. Also, don't forget the music! :)
(or when everyone is finished with dinner)
BEGIN GAME #2
This should be your feature game of the night, the one that will last the longest. Use your discretion, but we generally don't recommend games lasting longer than 90 minutes at a game night unless your guests are avid gamers.
(or when Game #2 ends)
BREAK / ALTERNATIVE ACTIVITY
This is a great time to allow everyone a break and possibly introduce a different activity, perhaps a few games of Wii Sports to get the blood pumping??
(or when everyone seems ready)
EXIT OPPORTUNITY / BEGIN GAME #3
It is always a good idea to give some of your guests (especially those with small children at home) the opportunity to leave gracefully without having to awkwardly say goodbye in the middle of a game. Give your guests an out at this point and gauge the remaining crowd to see if they are open to playing game #3.
BREAK / EXIT OPPORTUNITY / NIGHT CAP
After Game 3 is likely when most of your guests will be ready to depart, so make sure you afford them the option. If some guests remain, take a break to socialize and gauge interest in one more game to finish the night. It is also not a bad idea to have a finale activity planned, such as sitting outside by a campfire or enjoying some late night munchies.
Time of your choice
END THE NIGHT
This is your event, so always feel free to call it a night at whatever time you see fit. We've all been the victim of guests who overstay their welcome. Be clear and honest and let them know your are tired and ready to get to bed. They will understand. Once everyone has left, take a moment to decompress and celebrate a successful game night!