Party planner pro tips
Elevate your events with interactive games that bring people together. From scavenger hunts to custom bingo, here's how to make your parties unforgettable.
- October 4, 2023
Table of contents
Ah, the magic of social gatherings—where scrumptious food meets hearty laughter and familiar faces assemble for some quality bonding time. But what if we told you that you could kick things up a notch? Enter interactive games—the spice in your social stew!
In the late 2000s, game nights started to gain traction, replacing our collective FOMO with a newfound love for the tactile and tangible. Apparently, it's a rebellion against our digitally saturated lives, and let's be honest, there's something truly gratifying about moving game pieces on a board rather than pixels on a screen.
But how do you turn this craving for analog amusement into a real-life bash that keeps everyone buzzing? Fret not, my socially-savvy friend, we've got your back! This article will serve as your step-by-step guide to throwing a social event teeming with interactive games, whether they be classic board games, co-op video sessions. Prepare to be the host with the most, as we walk you through the A to Z of planning a game-infused soirée!
1. Choose a Date
Before you can send out those snazzy invites, you'll need to nail down a date. Consider your target guest list and any significant events, holidays, or long weekends that could conflict. Want to really make it easy for everyone? Use a quick online poll to see which date works best for the majority. After all, what's a party without guests?
Top Tip: Fridays and Saturdays are classic, but don't dismiss a laid-back Sunday game day, especially if your crowd is mostly local. A different day can sometimes mean fewer scheduling conflicts for your guests.
2. Where's the Location?
Ah, location, location, location—the real estate of a good party. Is your pad the place to be, or do you need to go hunting for the perfect venue? Consider the following:
- Home Sweet Home: Great for more intimate gatherings where you control the atmosphere. Plus, no need to fret about closing times or venue costs.
- Outdoor Venues: Ideal for large gatherings, particularly in the daytime. Parks, beaches, or even a friendly neighbor's spacious backyard could work.
- Rented Spaces: For something more official (or if your home can't handle the awesomeness), consider renting a hall, a rooftop, or even a boat!
Top Tip: Consider the logistical elements such as parking, accessibility, and space for your games. If you're planning something elaborate like a bingo night, make sure you've got a space big enough to call out those numbers loud and clear!
3. Select a Theme
Sure, you could go theme-less, but where's the fun in that? A theme adds an extra layer of excitement and gives your party that Instagram-worthy aesthetic. So how to pick?
- Decade Themes: 90s, 80s, or even the Roaring Twenties. Who doesn't love a blast from the past?
- Fantasy Themes: Think masquerade balls, Harry Potter, or a Marvel universe gathering.
- Seasonal Themes: Halloween, Christmas, or a Summer Luau. Leverage the season's spirit for added pizzazz.
Top Tip: Choose a theme that also lends itself well to games. A 90s theme can have trivia based on that decade; a fantasy theme might include a magical quest.
Games are a great addition to a wedding reception. It provides guests with an alternative activity to dancing, and it a great opportunity for a couple to show off their individuality.Sydney Goldberg, Owner Popped Event Planning
4. Send out Invites
The type of invite sets the tone for the party. Casual get-together? A simple text or digital invite might suffice. For something more formal or themed, custom invites can add that touch of magic.
- Digital Invites: Quick, efficient, and eco-friendly. Use platforms that also help manage RSVPs to make your life easier.
- Physical Invites: There's something charmingly old-school about a paper invite. Also, it's a keepsake for a memorable night.
- Themed Invites: These should be in sync with your party theme. Sending out a pirate's map for a pirate-themed party? Now that's what we call setting the stage!
5. Choose Your Games
"Every game may not align with every party. Choosing the right game can make or break the vibe of your gathering," said The DJ Booker writing for cueup.io. So let's break it down.
- Know Your Audience: Games that are a hit among teens may not work for a group of adults, and vice versa.
- Setup Time: Choose games that fit with the spontaneous or planned nature of your gathering.
- Number of Players: Some games are better for intimate groups while others are perfect for a large crowd.
Knowing yourself, your guests, and what the vibe you want to create is so important when crafting a party game. From there, you can reverse engineer your game!Veronica Carr
Lauren Phillips from Real Simple has a sage tidbit: "Party games can be the chameleons of social interaction, adapting to the crowd." In other words, a well-chosen game can be your social lifesaver, rescuing a party from awkward silences or lulls in conversation. Whether it's breaking the ice among strangers or rejuvenating a dwindling party, the right game changes everything.
Some ways we keep our games and classes fun & inclusive are actively accommodating skill levels for each child, keeping it short and sweet to keep their attention for as long as possible, having it be actually fun so kids are engaged.Emily Stanton Flip Out Productions | Operations Manager flipoutproductions.com
Video Game Vibes
When it comes to video games at parties, Laura E. Hall from Apartment Therapy lays down the golden rule: your selected games should be a feast for the eyes, not just the thumbs. In other words, pick games like Dance Central where even the wallflowers feel like they're center stage.
In the realm of party planning, especially for children, Emily Stanton, Operations Manager at Flip Out Productions, shares some invaluable insights. She emphasizes, "Some ways we keep our games and classes fun & inclusive are actively accommodating skill levels for each child, keeping it short and sweet to keep their attention for as long as possible, having it be actually fun so kids are engaged."
This approach underscores the importance of tailoring activities to various skill levels, ensuring they are concise enough to maintain interest, and above all, making sure they are genuinely enjoyable to keep the kids fully engaged.
Allrounder crowd pleasers
Bingo is like the Swiss Army knife of party games—versatile, engaging, and forever in style. What sets it apart is its adaptability. A music-themed bingo round can be the perfect ice-breaker or you can even go all holiday-specific.
Top Tip: If you're aiming for that modern flair without ditching the old-world charm, use a bingo card generator that allows you to fully customize your game. You can tweak the colors, the fonts, add pictures or emojis, and even play online with up to 500 players. Now that’s what we call a game for the 21st century!
People love games with head to head competition, and everyone loves to win prizes. But always go back to your event goals, and how these activities help your event achieve them.John Hanks, Jr. President Make It Happen Events
6. Plan the Food and Drink
Ah, the fuel to your gaming fire—food and drink. Whether you're aiming for a gourmet feast or just quick bites, make sure the menu is up to snuff. Here are some thoughts:
- Finger Foods: These are your party's best friend—easy to eat and no messy cleanup. Think sliders, chicken wings, and veggie sticks.
- Themed Snacks: If you've got a theme, run with it. Pirate party? Serve some "seafood treasures."
- Beverages: A mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic options caters to everyone. And hey, consider some thematic cocktails or mocktails.
Top Tip: Make sure you have a variety of options to cater to dietary restrictions. A hangry gamer is a losing gamer!
7. Create a Playlist
Ah, the soundtrack of the night, the invisible vibe curator—a killer playlist is as crucial as any game on your docket. Start off with some light, ambient music that allows for conversations and the clinking of glasses. You don't want to blast anyone's eardrums right as they walk in. As the night progresses and the games get more competitive, ratchet up the energy with some upbeat, dancey tracks. If your party has a theme, that should be reflected in your playlist. 90s grunge for a 90s throwback bash? Sea shanties for a pirate soiree? The sky's the limit!
Who doesn’t love to win something, even if it's just bragging rights? Create some awards or prizes that suit your theme and games to encourage a little friendly competition.
9. Final Preparations
Okay, game face on. It's time for the final prep work.
- Game Setup: Whether it's board games or a fancy bingo night, set things up well in advance. No one likes to wait while you rummage for game pieces.
- Tech Check: If you're incorporating any tech, such as an online bingo card generator, run a test round to avoid glitches.
There are 3 steps to making a game go over better:
1. Explain - Clearly explain how the game will work and the flow of each part of the game.
2. Demo - Get a volunteer to come up and walk through the process with them as your model going through each step!
3. Hype - Sell it! Get fun, get loud and get them excited about the game.Eric Godfrey Manager, AllPartyStarz.com
10. Party Time!
Once everything is set up, all that's left is to have fun. Be a gracious host, make sure everyone is involved, and most importantly, enjoy yourself!
The stage is set. Now all you need to do is throw the party of the year! 🎉
- Theme Selection: Choose a theme that excites your guests. This sets the tone for the decorations, attire, and even the games.
- Game Variety: Include a mix of games – some active, some more relaxed. Think of Bingo, charades, and trivia.
- Prizes for Winners: Keep small prizes for game winners to spice up the competition. They don't have to be big - just a token to make the games more exciting.
- Preparation is Key: Set up game areas before guests arrive. This ensures smooth transitions between activities. Eric Godfrey Manager, AllPartyStarz.com explains that to ensure games go smoothly, there are three crucial things to remember:
- Consider Your Audience: Choose games suitable for your guest's age and interests. Tailor the complexity and theme of games accordingly.
- Instructions Ready: Have clear, concise instructions for each game. It keeps confusion at bay and the fun flowing.
- Rotation System: If you have multiple games, consider a rotation system to keep everyone engaged and give each guest a chance to try different activities.
- Flexible Schedule: Allow some flexibility in your schedule. Sometimes, a game might be a hit, and guests will want to play longer.
- Safety First: If any games are physical, ensure there's enough space and safety measures are in place.
- Memory Making: Keep a camera handy to capture the fun moments during game time. These memories are priceless!
- Be Open to Suggestions: Always listen to your guests' game preferences and ideas. Their input can lead to exciting and unique game choices, enhancing the overall party experience.
Great planners are approachable, attentive listeners, utilizing a practical approach with out-of-the-box thinking to create truly unique and memorable events.Jill Taylor, USC™, UFSC™, UCPO™, UDRC™, UEPC™, UWPC™
Manager of Student Services | Tutoring | Administration at Ultimate Academy
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