Things to Do

3 Tips for Hosting the Best Game Night Ever

Kathleen Donahue of Labryrinth Games & Puzzles shares her advice.

The first ever Games for Change Festival Board Game Night at the Uncommons Cafe, hosted by the New York gaming non-profit Babycastles. Photograph by Gabi Porter via Flickr.
Winter Fun

About Winter Fun

This article is a part of Washingtonian’s feature: Winter Fun Indoors & Out. Our editors and staff pulled together the best things to do this winter, including snowball fights, cozy places to get a drink, ice skating, and more.

Board games are bigger than ever, and hosting your own game night is a great activity for cold winter evenings. Kathleen Donahue, owner of Labyrinth Games & Puzzles on Capitol Hill, shares some tips.

1. Set Expectations

Board games range from fiendishly complicated to easygoing and forgiving. Make sure guests know which type of game they’re walking into. “If you’re having a large get-together, I would recommend having several options because you never know what people will want to play,” says Donahue.

2. Learn the Rules Beforehand

As host, you’ll be the default expert on how to play. So crack open the instructions before guests arrive. If it’s a complicated game, there may be video walk-throughs on YouTube. Consider sending links to players ahead of time.

3. For the Inexperienced, “Party” Games Are Best

“If you’re introducing people who are new to games, I would stick with games that are team-based or not very serious,” says Donahue. Examples include Codenames, involving hints and word-matching, and Telestrations, a cross between Pictionary and Telephone. “They’re great either because they can be played as teams or because winning doesn’t really matter—the fun is in playing.” Donahue also recommends Secret Hitler, What Do You Meme?, and Superfight.

This article appears in the January 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

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Staff Writer

Michael J. Gaynor has written about fake Navy SEALs, a town without cell phones, his Russian spy landlord, and many more weird and fascinating stories for the Washingtonian. He lives in DC, where his landlord is no longer a Russian spy.