Get on Board with Board Game Night: How to Host Your Own Winning Party

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Board game sales have steadily risen over the past several years.

So much so, in fact, that board game giant Hasbro is actually going to begin offering a (not inexpensive) board game subscription service.

But wait — didn’t we leave board games behind in childhood? Why are they so popular with adults these days?

While there are a lot of theories about why this is the case (yay, something millennials aren’t murdering!), the one that came up most often was as simple as togetherness.

In a world being taken over by screens, smart phones and digital platforms, people (particularly the aforementioned millennials) are craving more face-to-face interaction.

And since you can’t just make a bunch of people sit in a room and stare at each other (too much face-to-face interaction), you have to have something in the middle for everyone to bond over, laugh over and drink wine over — so you whip out the board games.

(Side note: by the end of this post, the term “board game” is going to sound like gibberish.)

The Case for Board Game Nights

If you’re not on board (get it?) with the idea of board game nights (adults playing board games… without children present?!), I urge you to reconsider.

First of all, board games are a relatively inexpensive way to bring people together. Instead of taking the whole family to the movies or dropping big bucks at a bar with your friends, invest in a couple of good board games and set up weekly game nights.

You’ll save money by staying in and making food at home, and you’ll actually enjoy each other’s company in an environment that allows you to hear each other talk (because apparently human interaction is the new black).

Board game nights are also a chance not to leave your house, put on your comfiest sweatpants and drink lots of wine, all while letting your overly-competitive flag fly as you decimate your friends — but that’s, uh, beside the point.

Either way, board game nights are a great, inexpensive way to bring everyone together, so it’s about time you hosted your own.

How to Host Your Own Board Game Night

To host a good board game night, you’ll need three things: a good board game, cheap wine and cheaper food.

(Having cheap wine means you can drink more of it, and having cheap food makes the cheapness of the wine less noticeable. This is strategy, people. You’re going to need a lot of strategy during board game night, because board games demand strategy.)

But let’s break this down.

The Game

First, you’re going to want to pick your board game.

You’ve got the classics (like Monopoly and Scrabble), the nostalgia-inducers (like Clue and Sorry!), and the new wave (like The Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride).

Now, while you can find some of the classics and nostalgia-inducers for cheap online, in thrift stores (just check to be sure all the pieces are there) or at the back of the closet at your mom’s house, those trendy, newly minted games — the ones your friends actually want to play — can be a little pricy.

Before you go drop a whole paycheck on a base game and four extension packs, ask around to see if anyone you know has a version you can borrow. Also, keep in mind that many libraries lend board games, so be sure to check with your local branch!

If you can’t get ahold of one, but you’re really set on getting the hippest of the hip new board games, you may have to bite the bullet and consider it an investment.

When you think about it (but not too hard, these are all pretty, um, hypothetical numbers), spending $40 on a board game that will bring you and your friends years of entertainment and bonding through friendly competition isn’t so bad when compared to achieving that same level of bonding at a bar — an exercise which will require at least three dozen separate nights out with bar tabs totaling in the hundreds.

See? Game night suddenly seems like the cheap way out.

The Drink

Luckily, we here at The Penny Hoarder have both a taste for fine(ish) wine and a taste for saving money.

We’ve sipped ‘em, swirled ‘em, tasted ‘em and tested ‘em, and every cork we’ve popped and (believe it or not) can we’ve cracked has brought us here: to board game night preparations.

Pick up a few bottles of the infamous Two Buck Chuck (or, better yet, guilt your friends into bringing it by exclaiming loudly about subtly mentioning the price of board games these days).

The key here is to provide enough wine that everyone will actually get into the game and have a good time, but not so much that things get heated and someone flips the table and storms out when you manage to settle all of Catan first. (I’m just guessing here, I’ve never actually settled Catan myself.)

Either way, wine will be an important factor in getting people to return to board game night enough times to make the whole using-your-whole-fun-money-budget-on-a-board-game thing worth it.

The Food

As far as food goes, you’re limited only by your imagination. This is board game night, not Thanksgiving with your Nana — there are no rules at board game night. Except for the ones included on the back of the game box, but those don’t apply in the kitchen.

If you’re feeling chef-like, you could try throwing together some of these party snacks. These are technically Super Bowl party snacks, but board game night is just as big of a deal if not more so.

If you can’t be bothered to cook because you need time to psych yourself up for board game night, you could have your friends pitch in for pizza or ask everyone to bring a dish — potluck style.

And just like that, with three easily procured elements (look, we’ve done 80% of the legwork for you!) you’re ready to host your first board game night.

And while it might be confusing at first — this resurgence of board game culture that you thought you left behind in 1989 — your friends will eventually thank you for not making them spend another weekend trading hard-earned money for overpriced drinks.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. Adding these links helps us keep the lights on in The Penny Hoarder HQ, which makes it a lot easier to play shuffleboard after a long day of deal-seeking!

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She enjoys cheap wine, cheaper food and long walks on the (Monopoly) boardwalk.