“Staying in is the new going out.”

It’s a statement that gained traction during the 2008 financial crisis but, over 10 years later, one that still rings true as people see that entertaining friends at home isn’t less fun but it is much cheaper. What Boomers and Gen X have known for awhile, Millennials and Gen Z are just getting around to understand: Going out sucks.

But if you’re inviting everyone round to your place, you’d better have a good arsenal of activities up your sleeve because there’s nothing worse than being bored, a prisoner in someone else’s poorly thought through and badly executed evening in!

Games are a great way to keep your guests engaged, maintain the evening’s momentum and ensure good interaction between people – especially if the games involve teaming up, as this offers the opportunity to mix up the groups and blend circles of friends who haven’t met before.

So, with that in mind, let’s consider some options to include in your next games night.

Pictionary

It’s a classic for a reason: Pictionary is an inclusive game that relies on interaction and good communication. It doesn’t even matter if you or your guests can’t draw – If anything, bad drawing can increase the fun!

The concept is simple but, if you happen to have been living under a rock for the last 25 years, here’s how to play:

Two teams (ideally composed of about four people each) take it in turns to roll dice and the highest roll goes first. In this first round, the high-rolling team pick a card from the deck and the “All Play” category is chosen for anyone, on either team, to guess.

A nominated artist from the team has 5 seconds to think before a subsequent 1 minute to draw and the first team to guess correctly rolls the dice and moves on the corresponding number of squares.

Subsequent rounds see only the artist’s team being able to guess what they’re drawing and this guess/win/roll sequence continues until the team fails to guess and the other team takes over.

The first team to the finish square wins the game.

Poker

Poker can be a great game to while away the hours with friends both old and new. The format of the game is such that it lends itself to quiet concentration at home (for groups who know one another well and want to focus on their hand) or friendly, relaxed chat as the game rolls along. The provision of any common activity for a group of friends with varying levels of acquaintance means that there’s conversation from the beginning.

The main issue with home poker games is, that without proper planning, they can turn into a disorganized mess. Setting up the perfect home game needn’t be difficult and it simply requires the organizer to spend a bit of time getting acquainted with the chosen game’s rules (Texas Hold’Em, for example), keeping things simple and allocating roles to players around the table:

  • Have one person handle buying-in, cashing-out and rebuys
  • Keep denominations to a minimum
  • Run two decks so that the next dealer is ready to deal at the end of each hand

Twister

Okay, so you might want to reserve Twister for games nights with the appropriate crowd. That’s not to say that this game can’t be played with new acquaintances, but maybe not if that new acquaintance is your boss or the summer intern! Equally, you don’t want to be falling on grandma’s new hip.

For the right group of people, however, Twister can provide hilarity and fun. It’s also a great game to consider if you’re doing any match-making, as it will “force” your guests to get up close and personal.

The concept is simple:

A mat is laid out with a grid of circles colored red, blue, yellow and green. A spinner is used to determine where players’ (playing either head-to-head or as teams) feet and hands are placed and the winning team is the one that doesn’t end up in a tangled heap on the floor.