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Subject: My kids hosted a game night for their friends rss

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It’s been two weeks since our big girls (9 and 11) hosted their own game night. They have been playing since they can remember and have gone many times with their dad, our fearless leader, to CABS meetings to play, so they know the ropes. With that in mind, I handed them the reigns, watched them have a great time, and learned a LOT!

They planned everything -- the date, the games, the food, the set up -- everything. My girls had two open weekends before school started, so they canvassed their friends to see which was best – hoping to yield the highest attendance. The results of their poll prompted them to go with their second choice, the Saturday of GenCon, which meant dad would miss game night. In the end, because a couple of people couldn’t make it, one weekend was no different than the next, except that dad could have been there, and they could have stayed up later if they weren’t headed for GenCon themselves the next day. They are planning another game night in October, and they decided to choose the date without consulting anyone else.

They set the basement up like the tables at a game store or a CABS meeting, and that was exceedingly cute. They had a table of games including Hey, That’s my Fish, Family Business, Bang!, Run for Your Life Candyman, Ticket to Ride, Zombies!, The Hobbit, Dragonology, Hangman, Guess Who?, and a few others. They knew they wouldn’t get to all of them, but they chose those games for variety and for the different paces that offered. And they had tables to play on.

This was their general game plan for a game night running from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.: They invited 10 kids, and set up three tables: one that held all the games, one with chairs and bowls of snacks, and one with Run for Your Life Candyman (RFYLC), the only game they were sure they would play. They made HUGE gingerbread men with candy hit points for desert or an afternoon snack depending on which “round” the kids played it. Their plan was to each “run” a table, to teach the games (the neighborhood kids are familiar with our games, but not their school chums). Louisa (9) would hang out with the younger kids and play a variety of games at one table while Ella (11) played RFYLC with the older kids. That way I could feed them in shifts (tacos and burritos). That was a good plan, but it didn't go down like that.

Well, not all the kids came (only 6) and some were late, so they all ended up in one big herd. They waited until 4:30, and started a game of Zombies! That went along really well until the last kid arrived at about 5 and they couldn’t figure out how to get her in the game. (this is one of those moments when it would have been good to have an additional parent handy because my other four kids needed to be supervised too closely for me to help get that other kid into a game without totally messing up their game of Zombies! by either encouraging one of the girls to leave that game (there were enough other players) and to start a two player something or other to pass time, or to find a way to get her into the game that was already going. Zombies! is pretty straightforward, and no one would freak out if another player suddenly joined, especially if she had the average number of bullets and life that everyone else had.

But they just packed it up and got out Family Business and Hey That’s My Fish!, played a few times, and came upstairs for dinner.

After dinner, they went down for the girls’ planned highlight of the evening – RFYLC. Well, the rules were a little too complicated for a couple of the kids, and though my kids are great (really great) little gamers, they really can’t teach the games that well yet. SO the neighborhood kids (who have been waiting to play the girls’ new game) had no problem (because they practically live at our house, so are becoming pretty good gamers themselves), but school friends (all 9 and 10 years old) were quickly “bored” (code for confused) and the kids who are used to these games couldn’t really help them. Hence, they ended up sitting around eating gingerbread men and talking A LOT in between turns. After a few rounds, they packed it up.

Then they played – just played. Interesting though, that they kept playing “games,” just not board games. First they played the telephone game like a million times. Then they busted out swords and shields for a while and pretty much had a dueling – tournament. If you get hit in the leg, you lose the leg; you lose the arm; head and body hits are mortal wounds. They LOVED that! They had several winners who managed to beat everyone else.

And throughout the whole night, they had this sort of “Waiting for Godot” style game that I started calling the “Waiting for Bree Game.” She had planned on coming by near the end of the night after tending to family obligations. And the kids had some odd plan of surprising her somehow, I’m not really sure. I only really know my part in the plan, and that was to let them know if the knock at the door wasn’t Bree. People kept sneaking up and knocking on the door throughout the night, so there were many drills, but in the end, like Godot, she never arrived.

But the kids had a great time in spite of the fact that three people who said they’d come didn’t, they only finished a couple of board games, their main event game flopped, and they had to eat tacos, burritos, and frittatas for three days.

Lesson 1 -- Our best date is the best date for our game night. We got home after the two hour drive from GenCon to too many game night dishes in the sink.

Lesson 2 - I won’t go it alone on game night again. I’ll at least hire a babysitter for the little ones, one of whom managed to sneak into the fridge, grab the ketchup, and smuggle it into his little brother’s playpen, and have a whole other party while I was helping the kids with something downstairs – icky sticky.

Lesson 3 – Even though it’s a casual get together and not a party per se, I need to ask people to RSVP, so we know whom to expect and how much to cook. Lots of parents said the might come and that they might bring their little ones, and three of the kids who said they were coming never showed. So Simon and Lydia (my 7 and 5 year olds) watched a Spiderman / Speed Racer double feature instead of playing with kids their age in the “little kid pen” kind of area, and our family ate leftovers for close to three days.

Lesson 4 – Food upstairs and games downstairs – perfect! The kids had some snacks downstairs, but nothing crumbly, greasy, or sticky, so the games came through unscathed. They took a break and ate away from the games, so again, the games survived, and the basement stayed clean. In fact, the girls were surprised by how quickly they got it cleaned up. I will always have two very separate staging areas for games and for food and drinks.

Lesson 5 – Play short games while awaiting late arrivals. That way no one is left out. Again, two adults could have managed that time better.

And the most important lesson I learned is that even if things don’t go how we planned, it they play and have a good time, the night is a success. It is, after all, their game night, not ours.

I can't figure out how to include pictures, so I'll post them somewhere on my profile I guess.

edit: I got them to work; here they are.

This is the primary reason that I have very few photos of game night -- the baby boys played a little game of their own while I was helping the girls. This is also why I won't be going it alone again. With no ketchup story for context, it looks a little like the cubs that just finished the gazelle.


Here's my kid -- Louisa (in the background) and her friend making the cookies.


and here are their gingerbread master pieces


Here they are -- post ketchup incident -- you can tell that they are growing a bit weary of sitting still and thinking so much, even with sweets as an incentive. They had a lot of fun, but after about two hours, they needed a bigger break -- hence the more physical stuff they played later.

My girls, the architects of this evening of fun and games, are Louisa, the one in stripes, holding cleaned-up-ketchup-boy Gideon and Ella, the one in pink in
the next photo, trying to dodge a pretty enthusiastic end zone moment.


Those are really all the photos that are worth sharing, and I may already be a bit self-indulgent by posting so many. Next time, we'll take better pictures and put the condiments on the top shelf.

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Diane Close
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bat girl wrote:
I can't figure out how to include pictures, ...


Great report! And this would make a great geeklist too!
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Mystery McMysteryface
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Excellent story!!

Congratulations to your 2 girls!!!

And to the complying parents!!
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Mark Crane
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To include pictures, first upload them to "my gallery". Then, when editing your message, you can click on "insert bgg image" and include the number of the photo, which is in the URL for that photo.

Ugh, that sounds more complicated than it is.

I am having a game party tomorrow so these tips were useful.
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Jacob
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bat girl wrote:
and they had to eat tacos, burritos, and frittatas for three days.


This...is not a bad thing.
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Needle
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You have very mature girls there-sounds exactly like my adult game nights.
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John W
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GREAT report.
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bat girl wrote:
Then they played – just played. Interesting though, that they kept playing “games,” just not board games.
This is interesting, and I'm beginning to come to the conclusion that while adults really like the idea of a (board)gamesday, kids would really rather just stick with unstructured play most of the time.

Even with your kids being big-time gamers, and used to sitting down and gaming, when a group gets together most of the time the order breaks down and the kids prefer to do physical stuff.
I've seen the same thing happen multiple times.
Actually, ANY non-gaming group (kid or adult) is at a razor's-edge when it comes to the gaming activity : anything on TV, or some physical activity, or even social discussion will trump games most of the time.
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Nicolas Guay
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Nicely done, thanks for all the tips. It will be a few years before my son can host a gaming party but I'm sure they'll come in handy someday
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lil li
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pdclose wrote:
bat girl wrote:
I can't figure out how to include pictures, ...


Great report! And this would make a great geeklist too!


Thanks! I've looked at a few geek lists, but I'm still relatively new around here, like I lurked for a month or so then actually got an account like mid spring or something. This site is so comprehensive, I'm not sure how everything works yet. I could post a list of these game night do's and don'ts and probably add a few more. The girls are braver than us. We're hosting our first grown up game night next month. I posted about that last month to get advice and bookmarked all the great advice, a lot of which I passed along to the girls -- especially no greasy chips.

Oh and thanks Craniac and Jeff for the advice on the pictures. I'm going to try to post them right now.ninja
 
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Jenny Nguyen
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Aww...how cute!
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Alex Η
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Great story, great kids, thanks for sharing it.

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Nick Bah Doo
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Thanks for sharing!
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Mark Hubbard
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I read, I thumbed, I tipped...small thanks for a wonderful post, but the best I could do! Thanks! Mark

addenda: Ketchup, wow hmmmm? One day I'll share the story of my 2 sisters and I, and a 50lb bag of roasted peanuts... ninja
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paracletus3 wrote:
I read, I thumbed, I tipped...small thanks for a wonderful post, but the best I could do! Thanks! Mark

addenda: Ketchup, :wow: hmmmm? One day I'll share the story of my 2 sisters and I, and a 50lb bag of roasted peanuts... :ninja:


Thank you. I thought I was being a little too self indulgent, especially with the ketchup aside.

A 50 lb bag of peanuts sounds like a frightening and beautiful story. I'm feeling a itch to head over to chit chat and ask about biggest little kid messes. My mom thought the ketchup story was only about half of the "what goes around comes around" that I deserved after, at five years old, my foster sister and I covered the bathroom -- tub, floor, sink, toilet, cabinets . . . with about one and a half bottles of dish soap and made an "ice skating" rink after our bath. She found us naked, soapy from head to toe, and slippery as greased pigs.
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Tony Ackroyd
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Quote:
My two big girls..... 6 guest kids..... my four other kids

Man.
No wonder you wanted another adult there.
I'm surprised it ran so smoothly!
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1000rpm wrote:
Quote:
My two big girls..... 6 guest kids..... my four other kids

Man.
No wonder you wanted another adult there.
I'm surprised it ran so smoothly!


LOL We get that a lot. We have six already, so what's another half dozen? This was a little easier six extra kids from 9-12 years old than when cousins visited for two weeks in July -- six extra kids under 7. Then, we needed the extra adults for kid wrangling. ha ha.

We got their pictures taken, and they managed to drive the professional photographer to exclaim, "It's like herding Chickens!"

As long as they have order, they are darn happy though. I suspect that's why they love games. They are orderly, AND they help them order their world as well, but that seems like a whole other thread.

I've been brainstorming all morning about getting some more games for my littler ones and trying to have a game day, maybe in the community room at our library, for my preK daughter and her cohort, like once a trimester (their schools run on trimesters -- weird). That would be a parents and kids kinda thing though, or that would be CHAOS. I'll keep people posted.
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Geoff Burkman
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Wonderful report! You must be so proud of your kids! I was sorry to read that you subjected two of them to "Speed Racer," though, one of the worst movies of the year so far. Hey, at least they weren't watching "Diary of the Dead" or somesuch...
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Charles Donnell
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Fantastic! Thanks for sharing this. Gives me hope for my own kids.
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I am proud of my big girls. I can't believe they pulled it off! I will totally steal their model when I have my grown up game night next month.

I gotta say though that I really dug the Speedracer movie. The only thing that could have made it better was a super humungo screen, BUT that's not what we own. We have the box sets of the cartoons of Speedracer and the 67 Spiderman series. They practically have them memorized.

BUT seven year old thinks he wants to play next game night. I'm thinkin' not bc the games will be harder. Maybe, since I'll have another grown up -- sweet husband -- I'll make a little table upstairs for the middle kids with stuff they can handle.
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Heather Maresh
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What a fun evening! Wish I'd found games early like your kiddos - kudos to you!
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