With Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas around the corner, many of us gamers will be hosting gaming parties and get togethers. These could range from anything to your normal game group to playing with your casual gaming cousins. What are some of the best ways to make holiday gaming fun? What are some good ideas for themed game nights? Here are some tips and tricks from gaming over the years with a variety of groups and over the holidays.
Themed Gaming Tips and Tricks
Picking Games for a Themed Game Night
Choosing your games on a thematic night highly depends on your own group. Some groups like to go quite literal and if it’s a pirate night, it must be a pirate themed game, such as Libertalia. Others are more relaxed, content if there is some semblance of piracy in the game, i.e. Firefly or Smash Up. On Halloween night, the theme is more broad and you can do anything from Abyss to Cthulhu Realms. Figure out what your group likes, then go from there. And be okay with changing the game queue up if extra people show up or others aren’t into a certain game.
Ways to Make the Themed Night Immersive
Music, ambient lighting and themed food/drink can be some great ways to make the night immersive and fun. Tabletop Audio has wonderful background/ambient music for almost every kind of gaming. We use them on D&D night often. If going for a Halloween theme, you could play the games by candlelight or flashlight for extra ambience. Of course, any game night is not complete without food and drink. Find out what your friends like, then go on Pinterest or similar to find ideas. If you aren’t all that creative, even just buying Halloween cookies and pumpkin ale would do the job.
Custom Game Accessories can add to Themed Game Nights
Custom meeples, dice, and game mats can add great immersion to a themed game night. Meeple Source is my go-to for custom meeples, and they have anything from sci-fi to fantasy and even Totoro meeples. Custom dice is another way to add to a game night, instead of rolling boring D6s, you might have a fireball dice or dragon dice. Game mats can also add to the theme and fun, especially if the game mats are specific to the game.
Themed game nights can be quite fun, especially if the group likes immersion and appreciate themed food and drink. With so many games, accessories, and game music out there, it’ll take just a little planning to make an epic themed game night.
Holiday Gaming Tips and Tricks
Gathering the Group
It’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years and you’re at a big family event. Everyone is scattered around, eating food, chatting, or chasing after the littles ones. How do you gather anybody to play a game? The best way, is to go around the house, announce you’re playing a game, then start setting the game up. You might have to remind some a few times to finish up their pie and head over to the table. Sometimes, it may take a half hour or even more to gather people, if only a few come, start playing a short game with that group. Once more show up, then you can start a big party game or whatever type of game you wanted to play.
Pick the Right Games
During the holidays, I’m mostly playing games with kids and casual gamers. I’m not going to whip out Terra Mystica on Christmas Eve. I may take out Rhino Hero or Wits and Wagers. However, you may be spending Thanksgiving with a small group of euro gamers, so it may make sense to whip out La Granja after eating turkey. You have to know the group you’re playing with and what they are willing to play.
Traveling with Games
Many people travel by airplane for holidays, and deciding which games to bring can be tough, especially if you aren’t checking luggage. If playing with more strategy gamers, find games that fulfill the strategy niche but have a small footprint. Arboretum, Isle of Trains, Eminent Domain can fit this. If playing with mostly casual gamers, there are plenty of small games that can fit in a small roll bag. Another option is to combine several games into one box, taking out inserts and sharing game pieces for much needed space. Of course, you can always try and meet up at a game shop with friends or family, and play games they have there.
What are some of your themed and holiday tips and tricks? Any that I missed? Add them to the comments section or comment on Twitter.