This week I'm showing you how a casual Friday evening playing board games with friends can turn into something a little more special thanks to good food, drinks, and minimal yet fun decorations. So far I've talked about the party plan and make-ahead menu, and Faith shared her totally delicious recipe for whipped feta dip (not to be missed!).
Now it's time to share how the low-stress party went down! Are you ready to play some board games?
The Party Plan
I'm usually happy to just order pizza and drink beer while playing my favorite board games (ahem, 7 Wonders), but sometimes it's nice to make it a little more special. I definitely didn't want this gathering to feel fancy or forced, but rather something I could do somewhat spontaneously, and with little stress after a normal workday in the city.
→ Read more about my party plan here: Friday Board Game Night with Friends: The Party Plan and Menu
Having a few fun pieces in a small apartment make a gathering like this easy. Because I was obviously given advance notice of this party, I was able to invest in a couple things I always wanted in my apartment. A few weeks before the party I purchased a giant, colorful citrus print and an arc lamp for mood lighting.
Both of these things helped brighten my small New York City apartment, and they will make things easier for future parties.
For 5 people
SNACKS & COCKTAIL
The Day Before
Having people over on a weeknight after work or school means you have to prepare as much as you can ahead of time.
The day before the party I went grocery shopping after work and put away things that didn't belong in the living room or kitchen.
Preparing the Table
I took out the tablecloth, napkins, silverware, and plates and put them on my dining room table,
Making the Food: Lasagna Roll-Ups, Feta Dip & Ice Cream Sandwiches
After tidying a bit, I prepared the lasagna roll-ups so that when the guests arrived the following evening all I'd have to do was put the dish in the oven. I then made the whipped feta dip for the snack portion of the evening, and put it in the fridge for safe-keeping.
I also made the 20-minute peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, let them cool, and then prepared the ice cream sandwiches before putting them in the freezer for safe keeping. I obviously had to eat one, just to make sure it was OK. Spoiler: it was more than OK.
The Day of the Party
After work on Friday night I picked up some fresh flowers and dinner rolls on my way home.
Before My Guests Arrived
There was only a half an hour or so until my friends were supposed to arrive. I did some last-minute cleaning, turned off the overhead lights, turned on my arc lamp, lit some candles, and hung strings of lights. Dimming lights makes all those un-clean spots in your apartment less noticeable.
Before guests arrived I set the table. My dining room table is up against a wall and made out of glass, and it couldn't be moved to the center of the room until dinner because it would block the entrance. Instead of doing some fancy table setting, I simply used a bright, colorful tablecloth, moody napkins, and bright flowers. Fun and easy, right?
After My Guests Arrived
When my friends arrived (there were five people total, including myself and my boyfriend), I opened a bottle of wine, poured some for my guests, and immediately put the lasagna-roll ups in the oven. While we talked around my kitchen island, I got to work on making the peach lambic and rye sangria we would drink later, and my boyfriend James prepared the fiery kale salad.
After pulling the table away from the wall, and refilling wine glasses, it was time to eat! I served everyone the lasagna roll-ups, and my friends happily passed the warm kale salad and rolls around the table. It was a simple meal for a party, but also incredibly cozy and satisfying. Everyone mopped up their tomato sauce, and swigged gulps of wine that paired perfectly with the meal.
These are the face of people having the most magical and fun nights of their lives (maybe?).
I put the dirty dishes in the sink afterwards and I promised (and failed) to put everything in the dishwasher after everyone left.
Board Games + Snack Time
After dinner I asked my friends to set up the board game we were going to play for the night (7 Wonders), while I made the popcorn and prepared the snack tray. In the meantime James took the cocktail pitcher out of the fridge and handed people drinks.
3 Snack Tips for Board Game Parties
There's a couple things to keep in mind when eating and playing board games: Where will you put the snacks? Will the snacks make people's hands messy? And where will people sit if you're playing in a small apartment?
Snack location: Don't have your guests put their snacks on the floor or on the game table. We played games on my coffee table, which had a little shelf underneath for storage. I cleared everything off and had my friends put their snacks there.
Non-Messy Snacks: You don't want your friends getting their sticky hands all over your cards. Cold snacks are your best bet. If you're serving popcorn, make sure it isn't too salty, cheesy, or slathered with caramel. The whipped feta dip, chocolate-covered almonds from Trader Joe's, and spicy cheesy popcorn did the trick for us.
Seating Arrangement: I like playing board games at our coffee table, but my couch doesn't fit five people. Instead of using chairs, I opted for some comfy floor pillows that were both stylish and added to that low-key vibe I was going for.
After a game or two of 7 Wonders and plenty of snacks, I brought out the ice cream sandwiches. I made a couple extra cookies just in case people didn't want more dairy. We continued to sip on the peach lambic and rye sangria and then maybe (definitely) had to make another batch.
And Off Into the Evening...
And that concluded my Friday board game night with friends! While pizza and beer are great companions to a casual board game night, this gathering inspired me take things up a notch every once in a while.
Coming up: Stay tuned! The next couple days I'll give you my tips for getting your apartment guest-ready in just 20 minutes and Maureen will share the recipe for peach lambic and rye sangria.
Featured Party Resources
Snacks & Decorations
Photographed by: Alexis Buryk
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(Image credits: Alexis Buryk)