10 Entertaining Ideas: Fun Games and Activities

Planning a party and not sure how to entertain your guests? Keep the good times rolling with these crowd-pleasing ideas.

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Terre Lantzy reacts to a shot she took in a croquet game during a birthday party. (SHNS photo by Cliff Grassmick / The Daily Camera)

Bring together good friends, great food and fun drinks in a party atmosphere — it’s bound to be a good time. But if you want to rely on more than eating, drinking and conversation for entertainment, plan your next gathering around an activity or game. Here are 10 ideas:

1. Make the Food Interactive: Make the kitchen the hub of the party by planning a menu that encourages guests’ involvement. Plan meals that require several steps and ingredients such as homemade pizza. Prepare several ingredients and crust types and ask guests to build the pies. For a healthier option, have a salad party or ask guests to help prepare items for the grill such as vegetable skewers. Don’t worry about asking your friends to assist; most will appreciate helping and will have fun while they do it.

2. Build a Bonfire: Who doesn’t love sitting around a fire, relaxing with a drink, making s'mores and sharing stories and songs? Bonfires are great because they provide light and warmth in cold weather as well as another place for people to gather. Plus, the mood around the fire can range from mellow and contemplative to loud and boisterous.

3. Plan a Garden Party: If you’re a gardener and know others who have a garden, coordinate a potluck, produce-inspired dinner. Ask each friend to bring a dish featuring their prized vegetables and herbs. A variety of fresh foods provides a festival for taste buds, as well as an opportunity to educate one another and share experiences. Invite friends who don’t garden, and you may provide them the impetus to start a garden of their own.

4. Poetry Night: You don’t have to be stoic or pretentious to gather around literature. All you need are light appetizers, perhaps some wine and things to read. Ask friends to bring their favorite poem or a passage from a beloved novel. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare or Chaucer, although the greats should be encouraged. Encourage them to bring something they've written. Music is also a great source of poetry, so guests could even share a few lines from a favorite song. As an interlude, someone can play a song or two on the guitar, fiddle, harp or kazoo.

5. Music Night: A house-party jam session is a perfect venue for connecting musical friends from different circles, and live music creates an instantly welcoming and fun vibe. Most musicians will be happy to play, and your guests are happy to listen.

6. Yard Olympics: Host friends for a laid-back day of outdoor games, including badminton, bocce, horseshoes, cornhole/baggo, whiffle ball and croquet. For competitive groups, hold a tournament with prizes awarded for first, second and third place and for best play or most impressive comeback.

7. Game Night: This is not a night for Monday Night Football, but a night for you and your friends to be the players. If it’s a small gathering, choose one game that can last a few hours, like Risk or Monopoly. If you want a larger group, have a variety of games where people can jump from game to game, like card games, video games, chess games, etc. Have plenty of tables and chairs set up and snacks that can be passed around among the partygoers.

8. Movie Night: Themes abound with movie night. Get a group together once a month or so and watch your favorite movies, or choose flicks that no one has seen before. If you develop a loyal viewing group, take turns choosing the movie. Maybe you want to make your way down a top 100 movie list. Pop some popcorn and get comfy.

9. Learn a New Hobby: A fun, educational and creative way to spend time with friends and family is to learn something new together, like canning, crocheting, stained glass or cheese making. The possibilities are endless. Look for the skills present in your circle. Most people are happy to share about something that they love doing. If supplies are needed, ask those participating to contribute.

10. Festivus: For a nonsensical holiday full of airing of grievances, take a cue from George and the Seinfeld crew. A fun idea if you’re wacky and/or zany and seeking alternative holiday entertainment.

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