Have you volunteered, or been volunteered to host a night of bingo for your ladies’ group or children’s school? If so, here’s a few tips to help you put together a simple, but successful bingo night which will be fun for all of the participants.
As with every event, planning is an essential part of making sure that things run smoothly. While a bingo night may seem a simple event to plan, there are a few tricks which will help to make the whole evening more professional and more fun. Simple things like assembling ‘bingo packs’ prior to the event so it’s easy to get everyone ready to play without too much fuss, and deciding how much, if anything, the packs will cost, especially if all the proceeds from the evening are going to be donated to a charity or other worthy cause.
Consider the time needed to settle everyone down and to actually play the games. While bingo can literally go on all night, it’s best to have an arrival time, a set starting time and approximate finishing time, with a set number of games in between. This gives everybody time to arrive, get their bingo pack, grab a drink and settle in before it’s time for ‘eyes down’. Games will usually last anywhere between 8-10 minutes, so if you finish early it’s not likely to be a problem. If you’re running late it’s unlikely to run more than 10 minutes beyond the predicted time. Remember you can always remove a game if you think you’re going to overrun.
To play the actual game you don’t need a fancy machine. Try Amazon.com or somewhere similar for supplies. A family bingo game could be all that you need. Don’t forget you’ll need chips or markers and bingo cards. Of course, if you can get a professional machine and a professional bingo caller, all the better, but how ever you plan to call the numbers, be sure to let everyone know the rules of the game. Although all forms of bingo, including online bingo are very popular right now, you shouldn’t assume that everyone knows how to play.
Allocate calling and checking duties. You’ll need someone to call out the numbers, and someone to check the tickets when ‘Bingo!’ is called. Always ask for a couple more volunteers than you think you will need to account for those people who don’t follow through with their commitment.
Why not add a ‘special’ into the mix? If your evening falls at a particular time of year you can mark up the cards with something to symbolize that, such as candy canes or Easter bunnies, or even something spooky if you’re hosting a Halloween bingo night.
Which brings us onto prizes. There’s no need to spend a lot of money on prizes, especially if you’re trying to raise money for some good cause. Small tokens will be enough to make the games interesting to play. I have used things like packs of crackers or cookies; inexpensive jewelry; or candy bars as prizes. Or, you might ask local businesses to donate items to use as prizes. And don’t forget there may be multiple winners for a game, so plan on having a few more prizes than games played.
Don’t forget drinks and snacks. Why not ask some of the guests to bring along their favorite cake? The evening is all about a community getting together, not about gambling, so ensure that there are opportunities for people to mingle and talk. You may even want to consider having some background music to keep the whole event festive.
Lastly, have fun! While volunteering to plan and operate a charitable function can seem intimidating at the start, making it fun, and having a good time helps ensure that the event will be a huge success.