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.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the explanation. My son, turning six, wants to have a board game birthday party. Your info is a huge help on the organization.

Elizabeth said...

Can you share more on your scoring of each game? I am trying to do something like this so we can award prizes but unsure how to score if they didn't 'win' the game yet. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks so much for your great post!

Elizabeth said...

Can you provide some more explanation regarding the scoring of each game? I am trying to do something like this and award prizes but uncertain how to score the games if they didn't 'win' yet. Thanks for any help. It is greatly appreciated. Thanks for the informative post.

Lunar daughter said...

I did this again a while back for my daughter's 16th birthday party, so it was a big group of teenagers. So to make the scoring really simple, I just did this: Whoever was in 1st place when it was time to switch, got 4 points, 2nd place got 3 points, 3rd place got 2 points and 4th place got 1 point. So the points really were a team effort.
Of course you can make the games worth any amount of points you want, just make sure they stick with their team color.
Some of the games we played there, like Candyland, they were actually able to play several times through. So each time somebody won, they scored their points by places and started again.
Hope this helps?

Lunar daughter said...

And just to clarify. It didn't matter if nobody had one yet. Whoever was the furthest ahead in the game was considered 1st place on down. If it was a game like Blokus, where you are trying to play the most pieces, then whoever has the least amount of pieces in there hand at the switch was in 1st place. Same with SkipBo, or Uno, whoever has the least amount of cards in their draw pile or hand.
Might be a good idea to leave a note for scoring each game on each table.

Lunar daughter said...

That first sentence above should be "won" yet, not "one". Too bad you can't edit comments :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting your explanation for how to do this. Using your printables, we were able to host a similar party for my son's birthday. Kids from age 8 to 11 had an awesome time and my board game fanatic son said it was the best birthday ever. Thank you!

lifeiscrazygood said...

Such a fun idea!! So...I'm thinking of having a birthday party for my New Year's Eve child, who's turning 14. I have no idea how many will show up. Is there a good way to fill in names to the spreadsheet as they arrive?

Lunar daughter said...

Lifeiscrazygood, I'll try to answer your question about planning without knowing how many are going to show up. The main thing you need to figure out with your games is how many people need to play each game in order for it to work. Of course the rotations work best with an equal number of people in each team, but guests don't always work out that way. I would try to get an RSVP for your party as much as possible first to try to help you out. I made all of the games we did work with 4 people per game, 4 teams. Try to keep the number of people on each team as even as possible. Most games will work with at least 2 people playing them, but it's not as fun. So when we did this for my daughter's birthday party, we had a few uneven teams and so I used myself, my husband, and my younger sons as "floaters". We weren't on teams. If a rotation had only 2 people at a game I would float them into a game with fewer people and have them play for a team that needed more people. That's where it worked well to keep the scorecards for each team on the game table. It takes some thought, but study my rotation chart and estimate how many you think you will have. Good luck!

TheJourney said...

Hi, I would like to plan something similar for my 50th birthday. My main objective is to be able to play with everyone during the rotation process. Purple is my favorite color and would like to swap out the blue in your sample with purple. Any suggestions on how to do this digitally without photoshop or the like? Also, looking for inexpensive prizes.... not candy. Thanks for sharing this.

Lunar daughter said...

The Journey: If you can comment and leave me an email address I will try to get the colors changed and send them to you. I won't publish your email address so it won't go public. Or you can simply print them and color over the blue with red to make it purple. Head to your local dollar store to look for inexpensive prizes. You can get cheap medals or make little trophies out of low cost items and spray paint them gold after gluing them together.

The great part about this game rotation is that everyone at the party will get to play with everyone else at one point! Good luck, and happy 50th!