Tips for a Great Geek Gathering

Last weekend I went to a World of Warcraft party.  I kept wanting to call it a LAN party, but that’s not really accurate; still, it was a bunch of people and their computers, in a house, having a good time.  Really, it was a fantastic party, and I realized that many of the features that made it great can be applied to any setting. 

So, if you’re planning a video-game marathon, a geek gathering or just a regular old party, here’s a few tips to set it apart:

Eat Like Grown-Ups

At the party I attended, there were maybe 20 people, and most everyone brought some form of sustenance.  Yes, the standard chips and soda can be helpful (and don’t forget to make sure there’s plenty of ice!), but too much junk food and sugar will eventually make everyone feel crummy.  To keep up your stamina and even your spirits, mix in some veggies and “real food.” And cooking some of it at the venue ensures that it’s fresh, hot and mouth-watering.

Note: I didn’t take my own advice at this last party; I made homemade cinnamon rolls.  However, two of the biggest hits were twice-baked potatoes and a beef-and-veggie stew from a crock pot.  Much better than cold pizza, I assure you!

Have Structure

The WoW party I went to obviously had one common goal: to play WoW.  Beyond that, though, there weren’t any hard-and-fast plans, and there was a little bit of floundering about as people arrived.  Some people came up with mini-games to play.  One idea was a leveling contest; start a new character and compete to see who gets the farthest in one hour.  To be honest, I was skeptical about the idea, and chose to bake my cinnamon rolls at that time (ok, I’ll be honest: I also have no sense of direction and surely would have been in last place).

The leveling game turned out to be incredibly entertaining, even from a spectator standpoint.  There was hilarious trash-talking; everyone was engaged in some capacity. It was much better than essentially doing your own thing in a room with others.

Have Back-Up Entertainment Available

Even when the goal of a party is to do a certain task all day, there will inevitably be a slump.  People will get temporarily burned-out for an hour, maybe more.  When that happens, it’s a good idea to have something else to do.

An easy way to take a break is to have a formal dinner time, an actual meal instead of snacking.  At the party I attended, everyone seemed to get burned out at around the same time.  Some people played Rock Band; others went for walks outside.  It’s not a bad idea, either, to have a structured task at the end of the break, to get everyone back on track together.

Don’t Micro-Manage

It’s great to have the option of structure, but inevitably adjustments will need to be made.  People will be stuck in traffic and late; someone will have a different idea that everyone goes for; maybe people want to take a break AND have a meal.  A laid-back host makes everyone else more relaxed, and more fun is had.

When you’re planning a party, it’s great to think ahead, and the preparation will undoubtedly pay off.   When things get rolling, however, it’s time to back off and enjoy yourself.  After all, the host should be able to party as well!  And with a little bit of forethought, the next party you plan will run more smoothly, and you’ll be able to kick back and do just that.

And how about you?  Are there any party-planning tricks in your arsenal?  I’m always up for having a better time!

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