re: Poker & What buy in do you guys play for local games?
Personal note first: I haven't played a home game in years, but at least 90% of the time we would play single table tournaments over cash games. I always preferred cash games, but we were college students and the games would never be more than $10. So while a cash game kept people involved more, a short tourney would give the possibility for a bigger payout.
For cash games at home, the buy-in actually rarely matters. In my opinion, what matters more is your friends' interest in poker. The more interested the group is as a whole, the more you should allow for more big blinds relative to the buy-in. Let me give two examples, both with $50 buy-ins:
A) The game is more of an excuse to get together, drink beer, and have a sports game on in the background than to play your best poker. The blinds should be either 50c/$1 or 25c/50c. Why? These blind structures give 50BB and 100BB starting stacks, respectively. That allows more easily for bigger pots, and more action, and larger swings. The smaller the BB relative to the buy-in, the more it's just gambling.
B) The group as a whole really enjoys playing, and that will be the main focus of the evening. The blinds should be either 10c/25c or 5c/10c (which is what you said you play normally). This allows for deeper stacks of 200BB-500BB, and more sophisticated play. Also, depending on the players, there is less chance of someone going bust unless a really sick hand develops.
*Antes can fit in with either scenario. In A), an ante allows for smaller blinds while still keeping action and fun in the game. In B), it's less important because people are more interested in poker than in A) so you don't need to encourage action as much, but antes can still be implemented if desired.
Anyway, these are just my opinions. Home games are usually with friends, and even though you are still playing to win, it's more about getting together with your pals than the poker (at least for me).