A Fun Family Twist on Bingo For Your Next Big Party
Do your normally outgoing kids turn shy as soon as family flies in for the holidays and files into the house?
Looking for a fun, easy way to break the ice at the big family reunion—to get everyone talking and laughing?
Large holiday gatherings are a wonderful opportunity to get to know the far-flung members of your family tree, but they can be intimidating, especially for kids faced with folks they don’t see often or know very well.
In this article I’ll show you how your kids can lead a fun game of “Getting to Know You” Bingo at your next group event that will jump-start conversations and breach the shyness gap so everyone can get to know each other better.
Why Play Bingo?
Family reunions and holiday meals are the perfect setting to bring generations of family members together in one place. These events can include large numbers of relatives you and your children have never met or don’t know very well.
When it’s time for your next big group activity, let your children take the lead and offer an ice-breaker to help everyone meet, share and get the laughter flowing.
“Getting to Know You” Bingo uses a familiar game to help children and adults talk and spend time together.
Soon you’ll find it hard to get a word in as your formerly quiet bunch starts to share personal favorites, silly stories or songs, family fiascos and other interesting (and maybe a bit embarrassing) tidbits of information.
An ice-breaker is a game or activity used at the beginning of an event to help people meet and begin talking to each other. The goal is to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible while they interact with people they may not know.
Using a familiar game like Bingo will give kids and adults a fun avenue to meet and mingle.
With just a few minutes of preparation, your children can get the party started with this easy game.
#1: Gather Supplies
As soon as you receive an invitation to a large family gathering (family reunion, holiday meal, etc.), contact the host and ask if your children can lead a fun ice-breaker activity.
Your host will probably be excited about your family’s offer to help kick off the party with such an engaging game.
Be sure to ask the host how many people will be attending the event so you can begin your preparations. Help your children print copies of the “Getting to Know You” Bingo cards.
You will need one card per person (you might want to print a few extra copies for any drop-in guests).
Gather the Bingo cards and pens/pencils to take along to the event.
If you decide to award prizes after the game, be sure to take those with you too.
#2: Determine the Rules of the Game
Most people are familiar with how to play Bingo, so do your best to keep the game as simple and easy as possible.
To make it unique for your family, however, you might want to consider some of these game variations:
Set a maximum number of questions each person can answer, depending on how many people are attending. If you are expecting a large crowd, limit participants to asking only one question per person. If fewer people will be at the gathering, set the number at two or more questions per person.
Bingo vs. Blackout. You can require participants to get one “Bingo” (5 boxes in a row) or have them complete every square on the card (a “Blackout”).
Add prizes. You can present small awards to the first person to complete a Bingo, whoever gathered signatures from everyone in attendance, the funniest answers to a question, etc. Prizes or special treats add an extra element of fun and competition.
Create a custom Bingo card. The Bingo card you can download above will work for any group gathering. To customize the game for your family and turn it into more of a scavenger hunt, contact each guest in advance and ask for a unique or unknown fact to include on your Bingo card.
With a custom card, everyone in your group will have to search for the person who has lived in a foreign country, can wiggle his ears, worked at Disneyland, served in Vietnam, etc. And it will be lots of fun to learn unusual facts about your family.
#3: Let the Games Begin
As guests arrive at your event, have your children welcome everyone with a big smile and a Bingo card.
Give each guest a “Getting to Know You” Bingo card and briefly explain the game according to the rules you have determined.
For example, you may want to remind everyone of the following points:
- The goal is to talk to each person in attendance and learn something about him or her by asking the questions in the boxes.
- Record the name and answer from one person in each box. If possible, only ask one question per person (this will encourage everyone to talk with even more family members).
- Participants should complete at least one “Bingo” on their card (complete 5 boxes up, down or diagonally).
#4: Get Everyone Talking
Give guests 20-30 minutes to talk with each other and gather names for their Bingo card boxes.
In addition to completing their own Bingo cards, you may want to encourage your kids to help facilitate the game.
They may need to answer guests’ questions, keep an eye on the clock if you set a time limit for play, or gather everyone together at the end to present prizes and talk about what you learned.
Kids love to be in charge and leading the ice-breaker helps develop their interpersonal skills.
Have fun playing Bingo and getting to know your family better.
Some Final Thoughts…
During a recent lunch visit with friends, our children enjoyed a game of “Getting to Know You” Bingo. The game was filled with laughs and smiles as they asked each other questions and learned many surprising facts about their friends.
I know your family will enjoy learning about each other, too.
The kids already have plans to take Bingo cards to our next holiday dinner and play the game with their grandma, aunts and uncles.
What do you think? Does your family experience shyness with unfamiliar relatives at the beginning of a family gathering? What has your family done to get to know each other better?
Susan is always looking for ways to bring learning to life for her two curious boys. She writes about their learning adventures at EducationPossible.com and shares literature resources at WorldForLearning.com. Other posts by Susan Williams »