fun and games!

Fun and Games!

I’m all for relaxing after a long day of cleaning and organizing. Making my micro-living dream possible takes a lot of hard work! It’s nice to kick back on the weekend to get reenergized for the week.

My husband and I love to play board games and love to entertain. Entertaining items can get out of hand, though. It’s hard to keep all your games and entertaining things organized and pared down. Here are some of the things I like to do to keep it tidy:

* Travel size games – some games are perfectly fine travel-sized if you want to save room. We have travel Scrabble, travel card games, travel everything. It helps to cut down on the space you need for games. I love cards because you can have just one deck, take it everywhere, and play so many games with it.

* Invest in the good stuff – that being said, I like to spend money and allow some space for the games and entertainment items I really use. Even though we have travel Scrabble for camping, we have a big rotating Scrabble board for fun. We also have really good quality versions of Stratego and Settlers of Catan (a family favorite!). These will last a long time and because I pick our favorites to store, I don’t have a lot of extra games taking up space.

* Keep it together – go to a camera store and see if you can get empty old film canisters. Invest in some mini ziploc bags. Buy some rubber bands. There’s nothing worse when you’re trying to play a game then finding out you have missing pieces. Canisters work really well, but if you can’t find those, snack-size ziploc baggies are great. If I have a lot of pieces that are similar, I just get bigger plastic bags and group them together. These may seem like a waste of plastic bags, but it’s not like they’re storing produce and are going to get dirty and smell. You’ll keep your game items in these containers for as long as you have the game.

* Set aside some special entertaining items – I like to use reusable dinnerware for game nights and when I have friends over. I use a white tablecloth and white linen napkins because I can just bleach them to clean, and I don’t have to waste a bunch of money and paper on new ones. I also like using real silverware for entertaining. Sure the plastic stuff is easy to clean up after, but real silverware makes the evening so special. And it’s pretty easy to just throw them in the dishwasher when you’re done.

* Good food – have some special party food that you keep around the house for unexpected guests. Popcorn lasts forever in the cupboard and is easy to make for movie or game night. Some cookies, like Oreos, are always in my cupboard. Instant pudding is fun for dessert and is shelf-stable for a long time. You can also keep chicken wings in the freezer for last minute snacks. You can always spring for something new to serve, but having these snacks on hand will keep you from running out to the store every time guests drop by. Also, keep take out menus close at hand (we have ours in a sleeve in our cooking binder). Everyone enjoys pizza on game night.

* Drinks – I’ve gotten some cute things for drinks that don’t take up a lot of room… one packet of little umbrellas and some bendy straws fit the bill. It also saves space and money to have only a few kinds of glasses. If you are not picky about wine, just one medium sized wine glass set will be fine. Regular juice glasses double as tumblers and glasses for mixed drinks. We have nice pilsner glasses that we can use for smoothies and floats as well. Don’t think that you have to have special glasses for every drink you can think of. If there’s something special that you really enjoy, like sparkling cider or sparkling wine, invest in champagne flutes, but leave out the wine glasses. Buy what you love and get rid of the rest!

* Invest in streaming movies, on-demand or Netflix if you can – I can almost get rid of all of my DVDs because we can find basically anything we want on Netflix or hulu. This saves a ton of space! Of course, keep a handful of DVDs that are your absolute favorites or you watch over and over again. But having a whole collection of DVDs can take up a lot of room. They resell great at yard sales and people always appreciate them at donation centers. If you want to keep a few, you can always get rid of the cases and put them in individual baggies. We have a small DVD binder that I keep in my bookshelf. No cases, no wasted room.

* One word: itunes – in the same vein as Netflix, you can also get rid of a lot of your cds by converting them to MP3 format. We hooked our itunes up to our television and speaker set and that works well for us. I also really like to make playlists for parties so I’m not constantly fussing with my music when I have guests.

* Outsource – if you don’t want to spend money on serving dishes, glasses and a subscription to ESPN, move your entertaining elsewhere. It’s fun to splurge once in awhile and go to a sports bar to watch the big game. Then you can save time by not going grocery shopping, save time and energy by having someone else do your dishes and clean up after you, and you can relax without having to scrub your house down. I would encourage you to save up a little extra cash for the game you really want to see, instead of heading to the sports bar every weekend just because.

Those are just some ideas that have worked well in our lives when we entertain. It might seem like we have a lot of things, but we really like to entertain! I have gotten rid of a lot of other “stuff” in my house to make room for my entertaining. I can’t emphasize enough: make room for the things you REALLY love and get rid of everything else. Prioritize what you like to own and make room for it. When you look at your games piled up and all the entertaining items you have, think about the things you don’t need and think about how much enjoyment other people could get out of them. If you don’t play Monopoly, send it on over to Goodwill. Every family deserves to have game night!

I hope you find some good ideas here. And you’re welcome any time for game night! I’ve always got popcorn on hand…

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