How to Host a Game Night

monopoly board game
Photo: Getty
Who needs to spend money on an evening on the town when all the action's at your place? Call your friends, bust out a top Nestie game pick and follow our party plan.
  1. Rock Band

    Photo by Anita Calero

    Perfect For: Your rowdiest pals who know how to party like rock stars.

    Party Fouls: Slash wannabes (see below) or rhythmically challenged players you have to keep "rescuing" when they get booed off the stage.

    Ideal Number of Players: 8—so you have two full bands of four (it's not a fair competition otherwise!).

    Etiquette: Resist the urge to launch into your very own guitar or vocal solo when there isn't one! And don't get so attached to your instrument—you're not Slash (hate to break it to ya), so pass that guitar on to someone else after a song or two.

    Game 411: This music video game can go on all night long (especially if you're trying to build a fan base and take your "tour" to another city). Booze will help shy types access their inner rock star—just don't let them take the theme too seriously and pass out on stage (read: your carpet)!

  2. Catch Phrase

    Photo by Anita Calero

    Perfect For: Casual groups who want to mingle and play games at the same time. It's a word guessing game, so whoever wants to jump in can…and if you want to skip a round and chat, it's no big deal.

    Party Fouls: People who get stage fright and your friend's husband who always takes 45 minutes to tell a story—the point of this game is to articulate yourself f-a-s-t.

    Ideal Number of Players: Anywhere from 4 to 14 people.

    Etiquette: When you're guessing, don't yell. Nobody will hear the answers with your voice booming at 150 decibels.

    Game 411: This guessing game is played with a buzzer that you pass between teams like a hot potato. It moves fast, so you can play over 10 rounds.

  3. Apples to Apples

    Photo by Anita Calero

    Perfect For: Mixing friends who don't know each other. It's a great icebreaker because every card you put down to match the dealer's reveals something new about you. You'll crack up when you realize the guy next to you who seemed so reserved paired the words Justin Timberlake and puffy.

    Party Fouls: Players who don't have a sense of humor, because this game gets silly.

    Ideal Number of Players: No limit.

    Etiquette: Don't be a sore loser and argue every single time the dealer doesn't pick your card. This isn't an AP English class debate.

    Game 411: This fast-paced game is about making crazy word associations, so wait until your guests have had their share of drinks before you start playing.

  4. Wii

    Photo by Courtesy of Best Buy

    Perfect For: High-energy friends who either love ESPN or have GADD (Gaming Attention Deficit Disorder). This one keeps you on your toes—literally.

    Party Fouls: Guests who refuse to use the wrist straps in bowling or lose control of the remote during their big tennis serve and wind up flinging it into your flat screen (no joke—there are websites, like, that are dedicated to this kind of disaster!).

    Ideal Number of Players: 1-on-1.

    Etiquette: Limit each two-person group to one game plus one rematch—otherwise the other competitors will get bored watching from "the bench" (aka your living room couch).

    Game 411: This game system is great to have going in the background of your party all night long. Just warn guests that too many drinks may lead to an expensive party foul (see above).

  5. Cranium

    Photo by Amazon

    Perfect For: Pitting couples against other couples. Between whistling some of the answers and pretending you're Play-Doh Picasso, it's hilarious to see how tuned-in each duo is (or isn't!) to each other's clue cues. Plus, group rounds get everyone in on the action.

    Party Fouls: Overly competitive couples (see below) and anyone with a fresh manicure, because you've gotta get down and dirty with that clay!

    Ideal Number of Players: 6 work best—three teams of couples keep the game going at a solid pace.

    Etiquette: Cranium can be a brain bender, so if people aren't quite getting the hang of it, don't tune 'em out or get annoyed. No one likes a know-it-all, and that includes a demonstration of how to sculpt purple clay.

    Game 411: This board game has a lot of moving pieces, so ease up on the cocktails in the very beginning, or trust us—you'll be brain-dead within the first 10 minutes of play. This game runs somewhat long, so keep it to to just one round at a party.