Thrifty Night In: Board Game Night with a Twist


Board games have become extremely popular since the economic downturn. With astronomical movie prices and less “fun money” available because of higher bills and such, a lot of families and even 20 somethings are opting not to go out, but instead stay in and do things for free. Almost everyone has a closet full of dusty boardgames (or can “borrow” some from their parents’ house). A board game, combined with the right people, is basically an awesome night in a card board box.

The boyfriend and I wanted to have a housewarming party, but didn’t like the idea of dropping a lot of dough on appetizers, booze, and entertainment. We did a little brainstorming and decided to combine two of our favorite things: board games and dips.

It’s pretty basic, but has the potential to be really amazing. This is a low cost party idea, for the host and the attendees. The main theme of the night, board games, is low cost in itself because we’re asking people to bring what they have on hand. For the dip portion, we just ask everyone to bring their own homemade dip. With an expected party of about 10 people, that gives 10 different dip options for everyone. By prompting them to bring homemade dips, that will save even more money.

Here are a few tips to throw your own, fun Board Game Night.

Thrifty Ways to Find Board Games

If you don’t have board games on hand, you probably don’t want to go blow a lot of money at Target or elsewhere to build up a collection.

Garage/yard sales and thrift stores are inexpensive ways to buy games. You do have to be careful about this because sometimes the games are missing pieces or what not, but sometimes it doesn’t matter too much depending on the game. For example if game A is missing some pawns, you could easily substitute from game B.

Ask your parents (or grandparent or aunts & uncles etc) if they have any board games you can have. If their kids are grown up or not using them, then they may as well pass them on to someone who will play them.

Make sure to ask your guests to bring their favorite games as well. If you only have 1 or 2 games, then you friends can fill in the gaps with the few they may have.

Building Your Own Game Collection

If you’ve had no luck with thrift stores or begging your relatives for games, you can cheaply build your own collection of games.

There are a few staples great to have on hand. A deck of cards is the most basic, versatile thing you can own. From Solitaire to Circle of Death, there’s a game for any size group. We got our deck at Jewel for 33 cents–very cheap.

Another recommendation is to get a few classic games like chess, checkers, etc. These cheapest way to get this is buy a game set. We bought something similar to this 10 Game Set at Target for about $10.

Keep your eyes open for sales, and when your favorite game is available at a reasonable price, then buy it. It’s a great investment.

Create Your Own Games

If you’re feeling creative, you can come up with your own games. I’m not saying you have to sit down and make a board game by hand–more power to you if you do! There are many simple games that require little or no cost to you.

Things like Pictionary, Charades, and Hang-man are great classic games that can thrive off of participant suggestions.

Create your own games or use clever mixer games, like those suggested by (they even have printable .pdf versions of the games).

Add the Twist

Make it more than just a game night. Our twist for the party tonight is having everyone bring a dip. You can make it a potluck dinner, having each guest bring a dish, or a desert night. Ideas like that can provide your party with a lot of variety in terms of edibles and gives everyone an opportunity to try a variety of new things.

You can get even more creative. Add a theme for the night, like Westerns or Hollywood, and make people bring games or food that relate and dress up. Most of all just have fun. That’s the whole point!

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