Notes for Hosting a New Year's Day Board Game Party
Marc B
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On January 1, 2007 I hosted my 2nd Annual New Year's Day Board Game Party. As we're a few months from the 3rd annual event, I thought I'd review my notes and share a few thoughts on how I put things together (and ask for ideas about how to make 2008's party better).
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1. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:15]
Marc B
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I invite all my friends to this party. They're a mix of gamers and non-gamers. As much as I want the event to be 12 straight hours of Puerto Rico, I know that's probably not the best idea. When thinking about the event and coming up with games to make available, I pick party games, abstract games, quick games and two-player games.

 
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2. Board Game: The Game of Life [Average Rating:4.19 Overall Rank:15331]
Marc B
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Months before the start of the party I begin a weekly trip to area thrift stores in search of the cheapest games with the most plastic parts. It sucks up a lot of my time, but it's also a tiny bit of a thrill (there's got to be a good game lurking under that last shelf, right?). I plan to toss all the boards and cards and instructions and use the plastic bits to fill a cookie jar for a game of "Guess How Many Game Pieces." I think I'd need an entire production line of LIFE bits to fill the cookie jar I select. Happily, there are more games out there.


 
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3. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.39 Overall Rank:15329]
Marc B
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While searching thrift stores (and maybe parents' basements), one inevitably comes upon old copies of Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit. While I haven't figured out what to do with those hundreds of Trivial Pursuit question cards, I'm pretty happy to get a little crafty and cut up a Monopoly board, glue a plastic hotel onto Boardwalk, stick the thing in a display box and use it as decoration.

Decoration is pretty key to the party but I fear going overboard. In addition to the box below, I place a few old snapshots of my friends and I playing games into picture frames and scatter those around the apartment. I only use one game board as decoration - RISK is perfect for that, as people like looking at maps when they're drying their hands in the bathroom.

I buy clear photo coasters and use board game images in the photo slot. My first instinct is to use the covers of classic childhood games but I download and print some stunning images on flickr with Creative Commons licenses.


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4. Board Game: Mr. Mouth [Average Rating:4.89 Overall Rank:14926]
Marc B
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All 865 game bits collected at thrift stores land in a glass jar. Finding games made for children is a real plus - too big to swallow and just right for the center column!

An extra copy of BUYWORD serves as the prize for the party guest who comes closest to guessing the final number of game pieces. Making the prize a game played during the party is a good idea. Hiding the jar filled with carefully counted bits in the corner is not so smart. The jar should be placed in the kitchen where people can handle, lift and count while helping themselves to beverages and snacks.

 
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5. Board Game: Scrabble [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:1504]
Marc B
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Using extra Scrabble tiles for decoration is a no-brainer. Buying a cheap Scrabble set and using the fewest letters possible for decoration allows me to tack the board to the hallway wall near the bathroom. I leave the bag of letters and a glue stick nearby so people can have a little fun making up goofy words between actual game play.

Because I want to use the party to introduce people to games they haven’t played before, I don’t make a full Scrabble set available during the party. This is sort of mean, but I try to be subtle about it. Both BOGGLE and BUYWORD are on hand allowing word freaks to get their fix.

 
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6. Board Game: Twister [Average Rating:4.56 Overall Rank:15315]
Marc B
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During a search of the internet for party decorating tips I learn that a Twister board serves as a great table cloth. I’m certainly not capable of the advanced yoga moves it takes to place my left foot on yellow. The plastic sheet is perfect for keeping wine and orange soda spills from a wooden counter in my kitchen.

Not all my friends visit for game nights. While I spent much of the time after the 2nd party teaching everyone to play RA and TICKET TO RIDE EUROPE, I want to make sure everyone knows what games are sitting on my bookshelves. Instead of posting a giant list on the wall, I opt to create a Board Game Menu. I buy a few empty restaurant menu sleeves and load them up with the list of games making sure to include short descriptions.

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7. Board Game: SET [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1219]
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I group my Board Game Menu into categories, trying to set up the guide as an actual diner menu. My board game collection isn’t the strongest, but I’m happy to have a wide-ranging collection that appeals to a variety of people.

The first page of the menu contains “Appetizers” (light games) and “Soups & Salads” (word games). Next to each listing I call the number of plays the serving size and list the time it takes to play one game.

The plastic menu covers I buy have an extra flap on the first page. I can’t resist dropping a piece of cardstock into this spot on the menu and waiting to fill out “Today’s Specials.” I invite my friends to bring games to the party. As those games hit the shelves, I do my best to list them on the menu.

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8. Board Game: Sequence [Average Rating:5.95 Overall Rank:3090]
Marc B
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Page two of the Board Game Menu is dedicated to the bulk of games in my collection. Good or bad, I figure they’re worth listing. That’s a lie. I hide TRIVIAL PURSUIT DVD POP CULTURE, Scrabble and ISOLATE in my closet.

I know none of the “Hearty Fare” will hit the tables (arranged across three different rooms in my apartment) but I keep my fingers crossed I’ll sneak up on a small group teaching themselves how to play CARCASSONNE.

Most people opt to play games they know and I’m happy I purchased INGENIOUS before the 2006 party. I like knowing a game will see a little side action sometime in the afternoon.

 
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9. Board Game: Wits & Wagers [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:499]
Marc B
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A New Year’s Day Board Game Party needs good party games. In 2006 I introduced my friends to CLUZZLE and blew their minds. I only exaggerate slightly when I say Cluzzle is all anyone can talk about leading up to watching the ball drop in Times Square. At some point there are two simultaneous games being played.

I make POKER chips and a few decks of cards available for those who want to start the year a few dollars richer.

Ages ago ELECTRONIC HAND HELD YAHTZEE ended up in my apartment. This game that can be played individually is great to have around for those wanting to nurse a hangover or just wait for the next game of APPLES TO APPLES to start.

Knowing that twenty to thirty people crammed into a Brooklyn apartment can be a little overwhelming, I let my BOCCE loving friends know there’s a set available in case anyone feels like stretching her legs outside (weather permitting).

 
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10. Board Game: Apples to Apples [Average Rating:5.90 Overall Rank:3149] [Average Rating:5.90 Unranked]
Marc B
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The party start is set for 1pm. In addition to making sure typical party items (booze, soda, chips, etc) are available I make sure there's a bottle of Advil in the medicine cabinet. It is the day after New Year’s Eve, after all. I also ask friends to bring bagels and a giant box of coffee.

I can’t get enough gaming so there’s no set end for the party. The party goes ‘til 1:30AM, relatively late for a school night.

Before the 2006 party my father suggested covering a few of my tables with felt. It’s one of my favorite suggestions.

I also post a large piece of foam core in a central part of the living room. On a shelf beneath this poster I leave a variety of markers and encourage the winners of all games played to write their names and games won. SCATTERGORIES players boast by gluing their sheets to the winners’ board. I tack the board from 2006 to a wall in the back room.

 
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11. Board Game: Stratego [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:2277]
Marc B
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I figure I should list those games not listed above that were actually played during the party.

FYI: I posted a few party photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/expiredappliances/sets/72157594....
 
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12. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:392]
Marc B
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This is a great warm-up game. It's easy to teach and gets people playing as soon as they arrive.
 
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13. Board Game: Shogun [Average Rating:5.57 Overall Rank:12245]
Marc B
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I found this while thrifting for game bits. I'm all for games that cost a buck and involve magnets!

Sometimes a novelty item hits the spot.
 
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14. Board Game: Scattergories [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:2108]
Marc B
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The timer on this game always makes me jump just a tiny bit.
 
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15. Board Game: Ingenious [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:328]
Marc B
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This is a great game to play between traditional party games. That way you're working both brain hemispheres, right?
 
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16. Board Game: Cluzzle [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:3157]
Marc B
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As mentioned previously, this game was so popular at my first party I made sure two were available for the 2007 party.
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17. Board Game: Trivial Pursuit: Totally 80s Edition [Average Rating:5.00 Overall Rank:15027]
Marc B
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Nothing kills a long day of gaming like a slow paced game of TRIVIAL PURSUIT. It always starts out fun but 45 minutes in when the guy who knows everything about music gets nothing but questions about French literature, you know it's time to figure out a way to end things quickly. If the Trivial Pursuit box is opened try to adopt some rules for a fast moving game.
 
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18. Board Game: BuyWord [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:2906]
Marc B
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Once people got the hang of this it managed to see multiple plays throughout the party.
 
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19. Board Game: Time's Up! [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:381]
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One party goer had us playing a variant of Time's Up. You've not partied until you've watched a friend almost fall over miming Jackie Chan.
 
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20. Board Game: Werewolf [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1165]
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A game of Werewolf is a must, but it takes a bit of planning to make sure all those who want to play aren't involved in other games. I found announcing that WEREWOLF started at 9PM was pretty effective to get everyone ready for this large scale participatory game.
 
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21. Board Game: Family Feud [Average Rating:5.45 Overall Rank:13473]
Marc B
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Before the big Werewolf game everyone gathered in the living room for a hosted version of FAMILY FEUD created by one of my friends. He even gave out lollipops!

While a lot of guests take on the role of spectator, this is a good chance for most to eat a meal. I tried to time the arrival of pizza to the start of this game.
 
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22. Board Game: Tumblin-Dice [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:592]
Marc B
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And on tap for 2008...TUMBLIN-DICE!!!

I bought this three weeks ago. I can't wait to add a game that requires a bit of dexterity. Based on the past two Sundays when a few friends and I couldn't stop saying "just one more game" there will be a sign-up list for this one.
 
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