To celebrate our birthdays, which fall within 1 week, three friends and I planned a game night party for our families. It was a winner!

We gathered favorite board, card and dice games to fill the evening with activities. Plus, food was a big part of the fun. A checkerboard of cheese and crackers, Par-Cheesy Pizza, I Spy Salad and High Roller Cake were popular items on the buffet.

Using our Monopoly game as inspiration, I made a bright tablecloth and covered it with clear Con-Tact paper for protection. It added a fun and appropriate accent to the buffet. I rolled utensils in bright napkins, then tucked them into play-money napkin rings.

When the gang arrived, we began by munching on the cheese-and-cracker checkerboard. To make this fun appetizer, simply alternate square and round crackers in eight rows of eight crackers each to form the checkerboard. Arrange cubes of cheddar and Swiss cheese on crackers for edible checkers.

Directions for the game: Devour cheese checkers as you make your moves and jumps!

Pizza Played to Raves

Par-Cheesy Pizza has a hearty bread-like crust and toppings arranged to resemble a Parcheesi game board. In each corner, there is a large slice of salami to mimic the game's starting circles. Strips of onions and red pepper form the paths around the board…and sliced stuffed olives serve as the pawns.

Thankfully, we had the real game at hand for entertainment because this pizza board didn't last long!

Salad Photo

We also dug into I Spy Salad, named after a memory game we played with the kids. This colorful layered salad is chock-full of flavorful ingredients and garnished with cute hard-cooked egg-and-olive eyes on the top. Perky eyebrows are made with the sliced white portion of the eggs.

We were "on a roll" right through dessert! Our eye-catching High Roller Cake was shaped like a giant die with chocolate sandwich cookie spots. The level of difficulty for making this tender chocolate cube is "Easy!"

Fun with Fruit

Competition was keen throughout the evening. Some of the games, such as citrus boccie, had a bit of a twist. Instead of using boccie balls, we rolled oranges and grapefruit toward a lemon marker.

The last game was my favorite. We chose questions regarding major life events. Although we already knew many of each other's stories, we enjoyed laughing together over them again, and we learned a few new things about each other through the answers.

There's no need to wait until a birthday. If you're game for a gathering, just pick up on our theme—and put your own spin on it!