9 tips for organising a Cancer Council Girls’ Night In

Nikki Parkinson Life 22 Comments

Sponsored by Cancer Council Girls’ Night In

I’ll be frank. My girlfriends and I don’t need much of an excuse or an agenda to get together.

It usually just takes one person making a venue suggestion and, pending calendar clashes, we’re there.

So when I put the word out that I was working with Cancer Council to help build awareness about their Girls’ Night In campaign  (which encourages women to get together with their favourite ladies and raise money to help beat women’s cancers), I got seven very quick replies saying they were in.

8 tips for organising a Girls' Night In event

When I floated the idea of a Cancer Council Girls’ Night In, one girlfriend suggested that we make it a games night, offering to bring along her game of Pokeno.

Pokeno? Pokeomon?

I soon found out Pokeno has nothing to do with Pokemon and everything to do with a whole lot of fun.

8 tips for organising at Girls' Night In event

Before I get into the whole Pokeno thing and how I planned my Girls’ Night In event, let me back track a little.

If you missed this post, the reason why I’m incredibly passionate about raising money to beat women’s cancers, is that it’s 10 years since my husband lost his mum to ovarian cancer.

Research has continued during that time but we’re still not there in terms of getting an early detection test in place for this insidious cancer.

Hosting a Cancer Council Girls’ Night In of your own may seem like a small and easy thing to do, but the funds you raise on the night do help to collectively make a big difference to the lives of so many women affected by a breast or gynaecological cancer.  You and your friends will be joining thousands of women all over Australia, getting together to have a great time, and helping Cancer Council to deliver vital cancer research, prevention programs and support services.

How to organise a Cancer Council's Girls' Night In

8 tips for organising a Girls' Night In event

How to organise a Cancer Council Girls’ Night In

1. Set a date. A quick text out to a few girlfriends can help you quickly and easily set a date and time that works for the majority of your friends. You’re not likely to have everyone available on any given date but aim for a date that works for most. The more in advance you do this, the better.

2. Register your event. Register online to host Girls’ Night In. This not only allows you to set up an event fundraising page but you’ll also receive a free host kit with plenty of ideas and information for making your event a breeze. You’ll find a lot of extra resources on the brand new Girls’ Night In site too.

3. Invite guests. You’re guests may already have a date claimer from you but an email invitation out to them from your fundraising page will give them all the details, as well as a direct link for donating to your event.

8 tips for organising a Girls' Night In event

4. Decide on a theme. This is so much fun. I shared lots of ideas in this post and opted for our Girls’ Night In to be a dinner and games night. I’m sure we would have fun doing any of the ideas on my list but I can tell you we’ve not stopped talking about the night and Pokeno. Having a game to focus on brings out the fun in your guests … you quickly discover who’s most competitive. More on Pokeno below.

5. Work out a menu. I knew I was having a busy week in the lead up to my Girls’ Night In event so I kept it simple. I ordered an antipasto platter, savoury vegetable tarts and some brownies from a local cafe, which specialises in fresh, healthy and tasty food. This left me with the super easy task on the night of heating up the tarts, roasting baby potatoes and whipping up a salad.

8 tips for organising a Girls' Night In event

6. Prepare everything in advance of your guests’ arrival. I did put my guests to work helping me serve drinks and set out the antipasto platter on arrival but ordering the food in advance and decorating the table and the room earlier in the day meant that everything else was ready. This enables YOU to enjoy the night – and your guests to feel comfortable as well.

7. Set the tone. My inner Martha Stewart was unleashed. I had a vision with the decor that I wanted to achieve – beautiful, feminine soft pinks, blush, white, gold and rose gold. Flowers play a big part, as does subtle mood lighting and candles. Spending time on this meant that my guests arrived to a tone for the evening that had already been sent.

8 tips for organising a Girls' Night In event

8 tips for organising a Girls' Night In event

8 tips for organising a Girls' Night In event

8. Ask for donations. I asked my guests to donate an amount that they would have otherwise spent on a girls’ night out. You can collect cash/credit card donations on the night but it’s easier for your guests to donate online on your fundraising page.

9. Enjoy. Celebrating good times with your girlfriends is good for the soul. Take time during your Girls’ Night In event to sit back, reflect and be grateful for the friendships and support you have in your life.

8 tips for organising a Girls' Night In event

8 tips for organising a Girls' Night In event

So what’s Pokeno?

My friend Amanda, who owns the Pokeno game, is a former expat who lived in Dubai for seven years. This was a game that her friends often played.

You can track down the game on eBay or Amazon.

Ideally you have eight-12 players. Each player arrives with a wrapped gift to a set value (in the case of my Girls’ Night In event I supplied all the gifts – a mix of fashion, beauty and home gifts).

8 tips for organising at Girls' Night In event

Pokeno is a combination of poker and keno and is similar to bingo. Each player has a bingo-type board made up of a random selection of cards.

The dealer (this role is rotated around the group) deals out a pack of cards in order from the top of the pack and each player places a token on their board if that card is dealt.

When you have a row or column of tokens on your board, you win the game and call out POKENO.

During the first round, each game winner selects a wrapped prize and unwraps it for all to see (and covet!).

8 tips for organising at Girls' Night In event

Experienced players don’t let other players see the prize for too long as the game very much changes in the second round.

If you win in the second round you can snatch any prize from any of the previous winners.

What tends to happen is that one prize emerges as the one that most people want to win and competitive snatching ensues.

I am, however, the kind of person who likes no-one to go home empty handed, so I had a few extra prizes up my sleeve for those who didn’t have at least one prize at the end.

We laughed and laughed and laughed. It was absolutely too much fun.

8 tips for organising at Girls' Night In event


Registering to host your own Cancer Council Girls’ Night In  this October is simple. Head HERE and complete your details to receive your free Host Kit.

So tell me, who will be hosting a Cancer Council Girls’ Night In this October? What type of event will you host?

Comments 22

  1. Nikki, thanks so much for the post! I have been researching good ideas for my own GNI coming up mid October. We have a raging raffle section but I need to focus a bit on the styling. Did you go to a flower wholesaler to try and keep it cost neutral? Find anywhere good? Also, where did you get that cool little back lit box with the text on it? Thanks!!

    1. I too am interested in where the beautiful flowers came from. Looked like a great night Nikki. Have played the parcel open/parcel swap-type game a few Christmases ago for a blended family gathering (everyone had a budget of $10 to buy something and it did get quite funny with the opening and swapping – so much fun and some pretty affordable entertainment for a group of people of varying ages). The addition of the card game looks like a winner!

  2. Loved everything about your girls night in Nikki. Especially seeing the happy faces I know from Joeys! I’ll be planning one when I return from Bangkok. My older boy has had a bike accident in Cambodia and has a very serious leg injury. Many operations to come.

  3. We played a similar game last christmas – everyone brought a gift to a set value (wrapped) and when it was your turn you chose a gift from the selection left but could swap for any gift that someone else had already selected (and unwrapped) It didn’t really work though because everyone was too polite and so only one person actually swapped!

  4. We play a similar dice game at christmas…but PO-KE-MO takes it to another level ! I will buy one for christmas this year.
    Also, I am in love with the blouse you are wearing in the photos Nikki…where did you get it?

  5. Am going to do it…….am at my two year anniversary for breast cancer so love to give back……and often we don’t get the girlfriends together enough….off to work out date and then book into the system…..love a good games night too. S

  6. Such a great cause Nikki and it looks like you had a wonderful night! I have never heard of pokeno,it sounds fun and I’m sure your guests loved their prizes Xx

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