December 19, 2010

Board Game Party

One thing I love almost as much as planning parties is playing board games.  After seeing this segment from party diva Alisa Bangerter on a local TV show, Studio5, I came up with a Board Game Party for my extended family.

We have done it for two years now.  These photos are from the second one held last year on New Year's Eve at my brother's home.  The first one was a learning experience, but everyone had fun.  The second one went better, with only a few hangups, most notably me forgetting a tag for one of my nieces - she became me for the evening!  It ended up being good that I wasn't playing though since I spent my time teaching everyone the games and helping out younger kids on certain rotations, not to mention taking a few photos.

So hopefully after working out most of the bugs I can recommend my method for a board game rotation that you can try for your next group party!

I created these rotation tags and scorecards last year with a Monopoly property card theme. Each team had a different color of card, and their name at the top with the order they play their games.

I've include free printables here for you to use.  You could also use the printables for invitations, decorations, food labels, etc.  Click on each photo to make it full-size then right click and save.  Open in your favorite publishing program and add text.  I used the font Lucida Console in all caps for mine.

Make sure you have a location to handle a crowd and a lot of tables.  Brandon and Amy's house was perfect (I want it!) for having enough room to set up all of the games in adjacent rooms.  We had two games on their dining room table and four smaller tables set up in the living room.

Now, hang in there as I try to explain how this works!  You can adjust the number of games you play depending on how many players you have.  The younger kids that needed help from a parent also got a tag, a duplicate of one of their parents' tags, so they stayed with them through all rotations.  If a single player needed a break, we used some of the younger kids to fill in for them for a while.

The very first thing I did was make a spreadsheet with the players names, assigning them teams.  You really need to know who will be at the party ahead of time.  It's not something you can just show up and do.  I tried to break up spouses and siblings into separate teams as much as possible.  I also mixed up everyone so that they played with different people at each rotation.  Yes, this step took me a while.

There were four teams: Red, Blue, Yellow and Green.  This will work with any number of players (in groups of four) and with any number of games (with four people per game).  We had six games going so that everyone was always playing.  Each person played each game one time, and we rotated about every 12-15 minutes.  We played for almost two hours if I remember right.

Each game had a scorecard for each team in their color to keep track of the points for each rotation.  Each person had a name tag with their team color and the order of their rotation.  Each table had a scoring sheet that explained how many points they got for each rotation.  Some games just totaled the points they earned during the game, some got a score based on what place they were in at the end of their rotation.  When it was time to rotate you just pick up where your previous teammate left off on most games.

Game choice is most important.  We've had some winners and some losers both times we've done it.  Most card games work great, but it's fun to have variety.  I'll post what I thought of this years' games below each photo.

This photo should help explain the whole concept (I hope).  In case you're wondering about the dinosaur, each table had one to use as a marker for what team's turn it was next after each rotation. Why plastic dinosaurs? We have a lot of them.

Sorry sliders :)  Works great, fun game.
Scattergories :(  Fun, but hard for those under 12 and not enough time in each rotation for this game.
Skip-Bo :)  Works perfect. Quick learning curve also, but everyone knew how to play. 

Pirates of the Caribbean LIFE :(  Funner than regular LIFE, and the concept was to just get through the game once during the night, but the learning curve took too long.  I spent most of my time helping with this game.  I scored it with whatever team ended up with the Black Pearl at the end of their rotation got tons of points, so that became everyone's goal.
Blockus :)  Wonderful game that I highly recommend.  My youngest son loves that he can always beat Grandma in this game.  Works great and most rotations got through it twice.
Pictureka :)  New game we got for the party.  Worked best if you just played with everyone looking for items all of the time and then getting points for how many cards you collected.  The little kids were better than the adults at this one and loved it for that fact.
Games we used before that didn't work:
Clue :(  I wasn't sure how it would go, and it didn't.  This game works best if you read facial clues from the other players as you go.  Hard to do when you are picking up the cards from someone else in the middle of the game.
Rummikub :(  Works, but only if the players know how to play it.  The little kids had a hard time with it, but I love this game.

I made a sack of candy for each team.  After totaling the points from each game and each team color overall, I then awarded places from 4th to 1st.  I let them switch candies if they didn't like the kind they got.  Some candy ideas are Payday, Snickers, 100 Grand, Smarties, Dum Dums, Zero Bars, chocolate coins, Nuggets, and Skor Bars.

In addition to the game rotation we also had a Pinewood Derby, so we had plenty to keep us busy until the new year came around.  A fun night and I love spending time with my family.

This is a great way to play with a large group, but it does take quite a bit of planning if you want organized chaos instead of total chaos.  It really isn't bad now that I have it all figured out for you!  Please comment if you have questions or need further explanation, or if you've done a party like this.  And be sure to check out the link at the top of the page for tons of great ideas on food, invitations, and decorations for many types of game parties.