By Rose Kennedy, for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
When you’re fortunate enough to have kin or kindred spirits you’ll see over the holiday, it’s budget-friendly and usually fun to get the gang together for a game night.
When you’re a beginner at playing host, though, you may want to brush up on strategy, beyond what you’ll need to win Risk, Code Game or Uno.
The word game Bananagrams hosts a blog, and its top game night tip was to keep expectations realistic. “While TV ads and movie moments portray an image of all smiles and perfect Pinterest snacks, game night is often accompanied by frustration, tears, and tantrums; nobody likes to lose,” it cautioned.
Still, this type of gathering is the ultimate chance to “create a fun silly experience together,” Bananagrams added. “It’s a time to connect face to face, unplug from electronics, and make memories.”
If you host one game night during the holidays, you may also be able to create an annual tradition. And if such an event succeeds during Christmas vacation, everyone might be more willing to play more often the rest of the year.
To better your odds of hosting a gathering that’s more like the Hasbro ads and less like an evening spent herding cats, follow these suggestions from Bananagrams, Good Housekeeping, HGTV and other family fun experts:
Pick the games ahead of time
Note that this is not the time to teach everyone the intricacies of a role-playing game that takes hours or to play something where many of the players are eliminated right off the bat.
Choose something age-appropriate
If you’ve been hearing about hilarious games like Cards Against Humanity or Quiplash, bear in mind they can get salty, even raunchy, pretty quickly. To be family-friendly, select from games that won’t bore older folks but won’t scar the psyches of the younger set. If you don’t have any all-ages options, consider dividing into different groups based on competition styles and playing ability.
Consider staggered start times
When some of the folks gathering are devotees of a single more complicated game, like Settlers of Catan or the card game Spades, you have two options. Either gather them together earlier for a few rounds without the others or plan to have them stay after the less-interested party-goers have left or stopped playing.
Anticipate how many players you’ll host. According to HGTV, “Simple word games, board games and card games are great for small groups. For groups of more than six, avoid games with individual written responses or lots of moving pieces. Interactive team games like charades or an electronic trivia game are great crowd-pleasers.”