Poker, charades, even Catan – there’s nothing like a game night with friends.
Hosting parties is an art – from the food and the drinks to the guests themselves, great game nights don’t happen by accident. However, we’d argue that being a great party guest is an art form, too. There’s plenty to navigate, from the invitation to behaving well at the party itself.
From RSVPing on time and game night etiquette to mingling with people you don’t know, we’ve created an end-all, be-all guide to becoming the perfect game night guest.
Before the Party
So you’ve been invited over for a game night – how exciting! However, what you do before the game night itself is an important part of being a good guest. In the lead-up to a game night, it’s essential to:
• RSVP promptly: nothing is more irritating for a host than a guest who confirms last minute or shows up unannounced. You may think that this isn’t such a huge deal – the more, the merrier, right? Think again. Some games require a specific number of players, or the host may be dividing up teams ahead of time. Giving your host notice is polite, and it gets your game night experience off on the right foot.
• Offer to bring food and drinks: this is a good rule of thumb for all casual parties but is especially important for game night. When the host calls to invite you to the game night, accept the invitation and ask what you can contribute to the party. While the host might tell you to simply bring yourself, the gesture is an integral part of being a good guest.
• Ask questions: ‘game night’ covers many different scenarios, so don’t be afraid to ask what games you’ll be playing. These questions are crucial for planning your attire. You wouldn’t show up to a weeknight poker game in sweatpants, a charades party in uncomfortable clothing, and if your host has invited you to a murder-mystery dinner party, you’ll need to show up in costume! Just keep questions upbeat.
Know You Don’t Need to Play Every Game
Parties are fun – you’re around friends or strangers, and your senses are heightened – the rush of the possibility of winning is seductive. First, however, we’re going to give you some advice straight from Global Poker’s Lee Jones: “you don’t need to dance every song.
More directly, you don’t need to play in every pot the party host plays. Not least because that’s going to be all of them, and your bankroll can’t take it.” Jones is a poker expert, but the point he makes transcends the game itself – it’s unwise to spend all of your currency (social or otherwise) in one place. Leave the game wanting a little more, and you’ll always leave at the right time.
General Game Night Etiquette
Game night is a different social situation – and there are some unspoken rules that you should be aware of to make the evening more enjoyable for everyone. Gaming experts at What Nerd have shared their best tips for game night etiquette below:
• Don’t abandon a game before the end: you don’t need to play every game, but you do need to finish each game that you begin. It’s good manners, and your host (and fellow players) will thank you.
• Be gracious about mistakes: it’s game night, not the World Poker Series. Remember that fun is the goal of the evening, and bite your tongue if someone makes a mistake.
• Know the difference between ‘helping’ and ‘quarterbacking’: you might know more about the game than other players. While it’s OK to share tricks with other players, first make sure that they have asked for your help. If you find yourself getting frustrated when the player you’re helping doesn’t take your advice, check yourself. Trying to direct someone else’s play is called quarterbacking, and it’s an almost guaranteed way to keep yourself from getting invited next time.
• Be respectful of the game: this is the host’s party, not yours – resist the urge to bring up any ‘college rules’ or to cheat egregiously at the game.
• Turn off phones: keeping your phone off is good party etiquette anyway, but it’s imperative at game night. Nothing is worse than a guest who isn’t engaged in the game, checking their phone all night.
Make an Effort to Mingle
While you might be heading to a party where you have plenty of friends, chances are there will be at least one person you don’t know at the party. So, how can you mingle with people you don’t know? Don’t worry, we’re not going to send you out there with a list of awkward one-liners. According to the social experts at Succeed Socially, some great ways to meet others at parties include:
• Ask the host for an introduction: not ready to strike out on your own quite yet? The host of the party should be able to give a seamless introduction. Asking for an introduction is an excellent option for a game night where you’re all sitting around the same table, reducing your ability to mingle.
• Target someone who looks uncomfortable and introduce yourself: this method works because you can tell that the other person is nervous. If you can put them at ease, you can put yourself at ease – we promise!
• Talk about the game: the perfect thing about the game night? There’s a built-in conversation starter. If you can’t quite bring yourself to walk in and introduce yourself to everyone right away, this is a great way to break the ice. Ask if they’ve ever played before, clarify any rules if you haven’t played before, and wait until the conversation starts to flow.
The most important rule when it comes to game night? Relax, and have fun! Everything else is just a bonus. Remember that you’re there to meet new people and socialize, and try to put those competitive tendencies on the backburner. Happy playing.