Entertaining for Beginners: Host a Game Night

Entertaining at home is one our favorite ways to spend quality time with friends. It’s more intimate than meeting up with people in a loud restaurant and bar, and it can be significantly more affordable when done right. So a couple of months ago when lifestyle expert and blogger Camille Styles asked us to put together our entertaining tips for her readers, we jumped on the opportunity to show the world how Everygirls host an evening at home. And we have two words for all of you: game night.

The last thing anyone wants when entertaining is to be stressed. It pretty much defeats the whole point of having a fun night at home. So we’ve compiled a list of tips to throwing a fun but simple party that both you and your guests will enjoy.

The Food

• Keep it simple. Don’t cook if you don’t have to. Stick to appetizers until you graduate to hosting a dinner party and serving a full meal. (But when that time comes, we already have the No Fuss Dinner Party at your finger tips!)
• We recommend making The Everygirl’s Pear and Goat Cheese Crostini. Three steps to deliciousness.
• Hummus, veggies, and pita are always a fan favorite. But remember presentation is key: remove the hummus from its plastic container and place it into a nice glass bowl. Toast the pita and cut it into small triangles before serving. Slice the veggies into strips for dipping. Small details like this go a long way.
• Not a big hummus fan? Chips and salsa or dip works just as well. Just remember to use glass and serving dishes instead of the containers the food came in.
• Offer at least one sweet food. Fresh baked cookies or chocolate-covered pretzels are great options and look like you put more effort into just buying something from the store.

The Setting

• There are three key ingredients when it comes to successful entertaining (aside from booze and food): candlelight, music, and fresh flowers.
Candlelight: a solitary candle will suffice. We recommend using pillar candles over candlesticks as they last much longer. Often times candlesticks will burn down within a few hours. Lighting a favorite scented candle is also great option.
Music: have a playlist made and ready to go. Make sure it has at least 3 hours worth of tunes queued up so that you’re not scrambling for new music halfway through the evening.
Flowers: this can be as simple as a $5 arrangement from your grocery store. It can be a solitary stem in a bud vase. Don’t overthink it or spend too much money. But this simple act goes a long way when it comes to setting the scene, and shows guests you wanted to provide a pretty scene for them. See more tips on styling flowers here.

Other Entertaining Tips for Beginners

• It’s perfectly acceptable to host a BYOB party especially in this economy. Everyone chipping in to bring a single bottle of wine or six-pack of their favorite craft beer eases the financial burden on the host, who is already providing food. And considering an evening in ends up being much cheaper than dining at a restaurant or going out to bars, most people don’t mind helping out. BYOB also ensures everyone has something they like and there will be enough to go around.
Invest in and use glassware. This may seem obvious, but far too many times in our early twenties did we visit our friends’ apartments only to be served on paper plates and plastic cups. There is no excuse for this when entertaining post-college (picnics and backyard grilling parties excluded), considering wine glasses and dishware are available any Salvation Army store or Ikea for around $1 a piece. Four plates, four glasses for less than $10. Plastic and paper goods can sometimes cost more. Don’t even worry about the dishes and glassware matching. There’s whimsy in having mismatched pieces.
• Also invest in a wine opener and keep one on hand throughout the night… if your game night is anything like ours, you’ll need to use it more than once. a marble wine chiller is another great entertaining staple. they allow you to keep a bottle on hand so you don’t have to keep running back to the fridge.
• Have guests bring their favorite board game to offer variety! No one has any board games? First off all, shame on you. Balderdash, Taboo, Apples to Apples, Scattergories… look them up. Second of all, worry not. Games like Celebrity, Charades, or Password don’t require more than paper and a pen!
Live in a small space? Don’t count yourself out as host. Keep the group small—no more than four or five people total, and seat everyone around the coffee table. Throw pillows on the floor if you don’t have enough seating.

Click here to read the full feature on Camille Styles’ site.