So, you’re having your buddies over.
A night to ditch the lady-friends and have some fun with the guys at your place.
At first you might feel pressure to make your guy’s night more “broey” than it needs to be—just to emphasize the manliness of the whole operation.
Usually that means no frills: cheap beer and pizza, maybe watch some sports…
But then you start to wonder: Wouldn’t it be nice to try something a little different? To raise the bar a bit?
The truth is, hosting a guy’s night does not mean you need to settle for low-brow entertaining. You can take things up a notch.
And the best way is to focus on just three simple things: (1) the Activity, (2) the Food, and (3) the Booze. Here are some helpful guy’s night ideas that will take your event to the next level:
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1. Choosing an Activity for Guy’s Night: Don’t Overthink It
Occasionally, you can get away with just saying “Hey guys, let’s hang out.” But generally, you will be better off planning some sort of activity for guy’s night.
And let’s face it, inviting your buddies over for “Poker Night” sounds less ridiculous than the truth:
We’ll drink until we can’t see straight….
bust each other’s chops…
laugh too loud at stupid jokes…
connect with each other on meaningful topics…
and give each other awkward man hugs before stumbling home…
In terms of choosing an activity, you don’t need to overthink it. You just need something that provides structure to the evening, and helps stimulate interaction between your buddies.
Watching sports or playing video games might be your first thought. But don’t we get enough screen time already?
Here are few “analog” alternatives to consider:
Poker night is a classic for a reason. First, it sets the tone from the get-go. It’s not “game night,” which we all know is the nighttime equivalent of “brunch”: a safe and respectable co-ed affair, where wives and girlfriends are welcome.
No sir, this is man night.
Poker also provides the perfect mix of intellectual stimulation and social interaction. It’s competitive, which keeps everyone engaged. There will be winners and losers, and it’s all more interesting because—as you probably know—poker has less to do with your cards, and everything to do with how you play them.
Cigar or Liquor Tasting
Having a “tasting” of various cigars or liquors can be another great activity for guy’s night. It allows your guests to express their creativity by selecting their own specific cigar or bottle to bring—and there’s always interesting conversation about people’s choices.
As the host, you can make a tasting even more interesting by announcing specific themes: cheap domestic beer tasting, small batch bourbon tasting, Islay Scotch tasting, etc.
I had a friend who used to throw wine and cheese parties, and the themes would often be things like “Italian wines and Spanish cheeses.” To discourage snobbery, guests had to keep their wine in a brown paper bag the whole night. And instead of identifying the brand or varietal, there would be another theme for labeling the bag, like “your favorite book,” or “bands from the 90’s.” It was hilarious to sit around talking about how “Blues Traveler” had hints Oak or “The Spin Doctors” had a slightly tannic finish.
A record party is a similar twist on the tasting party. Just like with the liquor or cigar tasting, it adds some structure to the evening and becomes a built-in conversation starter.
You might be thinking, “does it have to be records?”
Of course, you could use a playlist or some other streaming electronic music setup, but it really isn’t the same. CD’s could work in a pinch, but records really are best for the record party because they’re just…well, substantial.
In their heyday, records were designed to be a complete experience for the listener: not only could you enjoy the music, but you could enjoy the content in the record jacket—which was sometimes a work of art on its own right: photos, paintings, drawings, lyrics…
That in combination with having to physically put each record on the turntable makes it even more special. Introducing each record becomes a more immersive, almost ceremonial experience.
2. Taking Food Up a Notch for Guy’s Night
After you’ve selected the right activity, upgrading the food for your event may be one of the best things you can do to take guy’s night to the next level.
Even if you still vividly recall your friends living on nothing but top ramen and frozen burritos, chances are their tastes have changed. And so have yours.
You now actually appreciate good food, so there’s no reason to go low-rent on the snacks and food for your party.
Of course, a selection of cheeses and crackers—and maybe a vegetable tray with hummus—are good starts. But you may want something more substantial.
That’s right, you guessed it—you need some meat.
There are a couple different approaches you could take here:
Grilling or Slow-Cooking: Great if You Can Put in the Work
If your event starts early enough in the day, you could barbecue outside and enjoy some mouth-watering grilled meats.
But that can also be a lot of work. And if you don’t designate someone else to help out with the cooking, sometimes you end up stuck at the grill the whole time without getting to visit with your guests.
If you’re willing to put in the work ahead of time, another option is to do something like pulled pork—either roasted in the oven or in the crock-pot. With some barbecue sauce and some rolls, it can be a real crowd-pleaser. But it still requires some actual cooking time and forethought.
Charcuterie: Instant Meaty Awesomeness
For a more hassle-free meat option, it is hard to argue with the convenience of charcuterie.
Since you don’t have to cook charcuterie, you can focus on selecting just the right cured meats and accompaniments—and you can prepare everything ahead of time so you’re not slaving away while your guests are there.
Plus, there’s the quality of the meat itself:
If cold cuts are the equivalent of macro-brew beer, then charcuterie is more like fine wine. Each artisanal meat expresses a different texture, flavor, or nuance to be detected and savored.
But it’s not just about the meat—it’s about the entire spread. Assembling a charcuterie board is an art form all its own.
The best charcuterie boards provide a variety of fine meats like cured sausages, salami, chorizo, prosciutto…
…but they also include complementary ingredients like pickles, relishes, mustards, jams, olives, nuts, fruit, and almost any other flavor you can imagine.
The subtle ingredients in the charcuterie enhance and become enhanced by the other flavors: sweet, savory, tangy, salty….Enjoying the flavors of a well-appointed charcuterie board really isn’t far off from the nuances of wine tasting.
If you’re interested in charcuterie, a subscription to Carnivore Club is a great place to start.
Carnivore Club offers a monthly delivery of cured meats from top artisans from all over the world. So it’s a great way to get introduced to new charcuterie flavors on a regular basis. (Whether you choose to share them during guy’s night is up to you)
3. Drinks for Guy’s Night: Think Quality, Not Quantity
As with the food, the beverage selection can be a make-or-break decision for the evening.
If you’ve gone to the trouble of planning a respectable event with sophisticated food options, why not make your drinks just as refined?
First, much like your charcuterie plate, your bar and cocktail mixing area help curate the experience that your guest will have.
Set the Stage for Better Drinks
Having some high-quality microbrews and decent wine available is a great start. Both of those can pair very well with your charcuterie spread.
But what about cocktails? This is one area where we often phone it in when it’s just us men folk.
Most guy’s nights involve only a basic liquor and mixer setup: maybe a dusty bottle of bourbon or gin and some sad-looking 2-liter bottles of soda. That arrangement makes for some pretty one-dimensional boozing—more about quantity than quality.
I’m not saying you need to have a fully stocked bar. But perhaps you encourage your guests to expand their horizons a bit with some proper cocktails.
Make it easy by selecting a few core cocktail recipes and printing them out on index cards. Have the right ingredients and barware already set up, and all they have to do is pick their drink and mix it up.
For my personal tastes, I’d probably go with a few manly drink classics like the Manhattan, the Old Fashioned, the Negroni, and the Martini. They’re fabulous, and this lineup would only require a few different ingredients.
Don’t Forget the Little Details
Presentation is everything, so don’t forget to have a few fresh garnishes set up: oranges, lemons and olives would work for the drinks above. Orange peels for the Old Fashioned and the Negroni; olives for the Martini; and lemon twists for the Manhattan or the Martini.
Also, glassware—seemingly a small detail, but it sets the tone for a party in a big way. Do you really want your guy friends standing around sipping cocktails out of solo cups? Or do you want them to enjoy the full experience of drinking out of rocks glasses and martini glasses? Good man, I knew you’d see my point.
Next Steps: Planning Your Guy’s Night
Now that you’re armed with the basic how-to for hosting a guy’s night in, it’s time to start planning. If you don’t start doing this now, you might never do it. So let’s get started, shall we?
- Activity – Figure out your activity (again, don’t overthink it)
- Guest list – Jot down your guest list
- Invite – Pick a date and send out an invitation via Evite or Facebook. (Captain obvious tip: remember, the farther in advance you plan it, you more guys will be able to attend)
- Clean – About a week before the party, do a deep clean on your apartment or house
- Shop – A few days before the party, go shopping for food, booze and any other remaining supplies. Don’t forget to grab some complementary ingredients for your charcuterie board. And don’t forget cocktail napkins and plates! Oh, and ICE!
- Set up – The day of your party, do a quick once-over to make sure your place is presentable, then start setting up for your guests to arrive. Figure out strategic locations for your activity, the food and the booze (preferably not in the exact same spots, so guests will move around)
- Music – If you’re not doing a record party, consider putting together a playlist or a stack of CDs so you have tunes during the event
- Be present and enjoy – If you’ve planned ahead and gotten everything set up, you’ll be able be to relax and visit with your guests without any distractions. Enjoy!
If you have other tips for guy’s night, let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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