My husband and I are lucky to have an abundance of local friends and family. On any (every!) given weekend there is someone who wants to get together. But let’s face it, hiring a babysitter and going out is all too often a prohibitively expensive endeavor. And hanging around playing beer pong all night has become a bad idea for any number of reasons — why are hangovers so much worse in your 30s? We do love a good game night (have you played Telestrations? It’s the best), but sometimes you have to mix it up a little.
Here are some ideas we’ve found to be particularly fun:
Murder mystery dinner
If you have any amateur thespians in your circle, this one is for you! Under $20 will get you a kit that includes a plot line, character profiles for each guest, and ideas for what to serve based on the theme of the game. Guests come dressed up and in character, information and clues are given out throughout the party, and at the end of the night everyone tries to guess who the murderer is. You’ll laugh all night.
Wine and cheese night
This is pretty self-explanatory: Bring a variety of interesting cheeses and encourage guests to try them, one by one. When we did this we even took notes about which we liked, what paired well with what, etc. This can be particularly successful with a group of guests who don’t know each other well, as it gives everyone a common theme to talk about until conversation begins to flow more naturally. Another version of this that I’m hoping to host soon is a “pairings party” where every guest/couple will be encouraged to bring a food and beverage that are meant to pair well together — homemade pretzels and beer, a cordial and dessert, and so on.
My sister-in-law and I like to have “Pinterest parties.” We pick a few fun things from our Pinterest boards to make, don our comfiest pajamas, and snuggle on the couch while going through our pins, deciding to delete things we’re never actually going to do, making plans to make things we really want to do, and getting distracted from the point and pinning 1,000 new things. You could, of course, do a less lazy version of this and actually create those Pinterest projects with friends; I’d be impressed with your initiative.
Why save the dressing up for Halloween? Just because we’re not in our 20s anymore doesn’t mean we can’t rock a fun themed party. Our Alice in Wonderland party was a favorite, but the possibilities here are endless (you can plan it during the aforementioned Pinterest party). A bonus is that these can be particularly kid-friendly.
Creative game nights
I know I said “beyond game night,” so I’m cheating a little here, but my friends and I have had great nights playing games one might not immediately think of. Remember HORSE? That playground basketball staple? Put the kids to bed, use some car headlights for illumination, add your beverage of choice, and laugh as your 6-foot-tall husband is forced to copy the through-the-legs shot you just made.
Another one we keep waiting to play again is “hurricane bocce.” A few years ago we had one of those hurricanes that wasn’t actually a hurricane. It was an incredibly warm night, with driving rain and just enough wind to make it exciting, so we decided to play bocce in the storm. So. Much. Fun.
I’d love to hear your ideas!