When I was a kid, I wasn't crazy about games, with a few exceptions. Candy Land, for one, which totally formed the color palette for my life -- I'm always referencing that board aesthetically. The other game I loved was the memory game Match II, in which you turn over tiles looking for the match. (That game appealed to me because I could win.) I still like to invite over some friends, put out a few snacks, pour drinks, and play the two other games shown below. I guess I don't just play games for the sake of sport. I play them for the sake of victory. I must have a Machiavellian streak that runs pretty darn deep.
I am not really a card person -- I don't even know the rules of rummy, which this two-deck game resembles. Martha played it with her mother, Mrs. Kostyra, and I learned it from Martha. I love watching her teach it to other people. It's in keeping with the company she built. At work, she shows you the rules and encourages you to win. With gozo, it's a little different: She shows you how to play, and then it's every man for himself. Like me, she is also very competitive -- which makes the game fun -- and I think she'd tell you I'm a pretty ruthless gozo player. She's beyond proud to watch me succeed at something she taught me. We play this a lot when we travel together, so that's another reason I like it so much -- it's associated with a lot of good memories.
House of Cards
One large ice cube keeps the Negroni from getting watery. Sip slowly or you could end up on your back with 15 cards in your hand. I serve it with cocktail napkins decorated with card suits -- a DIY project you can do with craft paint.
I think there is something in my DNA that loves to match things. If you look around my apartment, you'll see that everything is in a pair. So the whole premise of dominoes appeals to this addiction that I suffer from. I know dominoes is considered kind of an old man's game, but anyone can play -- it's kid-friendly and retro, which definitely influences the drinks I serve (right down to the spiral-striped straws). We play with a set of dominoes that Alexis Stewart gave me, and sit on cushions on the floor around the coffee table. The whole game is very fun and easy and casual.
What's great about dominoes is that anyone can play. If kids are there, they can sit around the coffee table and join right in.
Soda and Popcorn
I load up a silver bowl with ice and Izze's sodas, and fill a julep cup with paper drinking straws, and guests help themselves. Classic popcorn gets a sophisticated twist with curry seasoning.
Silver bowl (similar to shown), 12"; julep cup (similar to shown), 6 1/2"; jamaligarden.com. Paper straws, in Gray, kikkerlandshop.com. Kiva platters, rose quartz with sterling silver, rablabs.com. Tufted corduroy floor pillows, urbanoutfitters.com.