1. Invite People First, you want to invite over some folks who don't mind letting their hair down. However, games nights are great for getting people to relax so don't be surprised when those quieter friends start coming out of their shells by the end of the evening. Games nights are also great for cheering people up or getting to know others in a relaxed way.
If you don't want the hassle of serving dinner, just make it a games and dessert night or ask everyone to bring a dish and have a 'pot luck' dinner.
Or try: Homemade pizzas (get people to make their own) Finger food - Party packs are good for a real no fuss approach. Italian night (spag bol, garlic bread and salad) Mexican - tacos
Don't go out and buy boardgames. Make do with what you have or better still, make your own.
Great Games for a Games Night
Team Pictionary Use a simple points table to score. This is one of those games that you can have teams for or you can just play with the whole group (some people don't like competitive games and sometimes it's good to mix it up). Have a big whiteboard or paper clipped to an easel or stand and have a list of words that fall into the following categories - an action
a person, place or animal
The person who goes first chooses from the top of the pile of words and, without showing anyone, must draw what is on the card. No sounds or hand gestures can be made by the drawer and no numbers or letters can be drawn.
The Dictionary Game
I used to play this at university. Everyone sits around the room with a scrap of paper and pen. The person who is 'in' first gets a dictionary and finds an obscure word that hopefully no one has ever heard of. An example is 'contango'. Everyone is informed of the word and everyone writes a definition that sounds credible.
The person who initially found the word, writes the correct definition from the dictionary (trying to make it reasonably sound simple). Others make things up like 'an ancient middle eastern dish of broiled goat and vegetables'. All the possibilities are collected and then read out by the 'in' person. People decide which definition they think is the accurate one. When someone nominates your 'definition', you get a point. The 'in' person is like the referee - and not allocated any points in this round.
This is a fun variation and funny to watch. Five or six people volunteer or are nominated and leave the room while the 'in' person is secretly given a silly action to act out by the remaining 'audience'. Examples are sharing a banana with a monkey or walking a very stubborn, overweight dog.
The 'in' person then brings the others back into the room and gets them to line up and turn so their backs are to the first person who will act out the silly action. He/she taps the shoulder of the second in line so they turn to face him/her and quietly acts out the action once. The second in line, then turns 180 degrees and taps the next person in line and acts out what they think the action was and so it continues. Hopefully it gets sillier and sillier as it goes along. Then the actors reveal what they think they were acting out.
Taboo and Catchphrase
These games are similar and are often seen on American movies where they try to get their team mates to say a word. There is an adults only version used in The Cable Guy which is quite funny. Matthew Broderick is teamed up with his mum and finds it quite excruciating to get her to say the words in question.
There are several versions of catchphrase.
Verbal cues only - the 'in' person has 1 minute to get his teammates to say as many words from the cards that he/she can. If you don't own one of these games and you want an easy option for acquiring words, get everyone to write 5 celebrities/words/books and whatever you decide on cards and put them in a bowl for selection.
Charades - Most people know how to play this - the 'in' person acts out the word or phrase. If they like, they can indicate words and syllables with certain hand gestures and you can use 'sounds like' by cupping your ear. No words can be spoken.
One word clues only. Only one word can be used to describe the word on the card.
Within the time frame of one minute, you can try to play speed catchphrase to go through as many cards as possible. If one is impossible to work out, the team guessing can say 'pass' to go onto the next card.
Taboo works as above with verbal cues allowed but the card in question has 5 taboo words on it that you cannot use to describe the word. If you are making your own cards you might have HOSPITAL and then you think of 5 taboo words that first pop into your mind to describe hospital. So your card may look like this:
So when a player picks that card, he/she must get his teammates to say hospital without using 'doctor', 'sick' etc to describe it so they may say 'big building to go to when you are unwell'. Once the team gets the word right, the 'in' person can quickly pick up another card and try to do as many within a one or three minute time period to accrue as many points for their team as possible.