About 15 years ago my partner and I decided to have a rather large cookout at the house. We had just bought our first home together and wanted to have a big blow-out. We invited close to 100 people. Most lived nearby but I few drove several hundred miles. And one guest one flew in from Pittsburgh to join our Connecticut Country BBQ. However, the confirmed group of people attending, for the most part, have never met each other before. As hosts, we knew that it was going to be hard to introduce each person to everyone else. To complicate matters we had to cook and tend bar at the same time. What we needed was an interactive game.
So I decided to create what I called the “Icebreaker Game” as a way for our guests to get to know each other on their on. The set up for this game is quite easy. After we had a confirmed the list guests, we created small business card sized information badges with each guest’s name on it. I went to Staples and bought sheets of perforated business cards you can run through an inkjet printer.
Then I established the categories that best described how we knew the guest. For example if they went to school with me I created a schoolbus icon and put it next to their name as well as my name on the card. I did the same procedure for my partner’s guests. The only change was to list his name on the card. Or if we worked together (past or present), I put a clipart office building icon next to the name. For our party we determined in some manner our guests knew us as one of the following: Work, neighbor, family, school or friend. Each card was designed accordingly with the appropriate icon. See examples below:
Then we randomly laid each card on a tray. The cards were attached to a plastic frog clip. I found these cute frog clips in the children’s section of our local party goods store. Each guest could clip the card to their shirt or dress. This also made it easier for other guests to see the name that each guess picked. Frogs were especially appropriate for us as our yard, which is situated deep in the woods, were full of toads and frogs. But you can choose whatever clip works for you.
Now the Fun Begins
The way the game works is as each guest arrives they choose a name card from the tray of someone they don’t know. The guest can use any information available in the house or question other guests to try to figure out which person at the party matched the name on the card. Our only rule was the guest could not ask their hosts any questions other than if we knew if the guest had arrived to the party yet. We even dug out pictures that we had taken with some of our guests in the past and placed them around the house as clues.
Once the guest is able to find the person named on the card, they can give them their card. The guest receiving the card can then add their card to pre-established collection jar. Meanwhile, the guest giving the card still needs to find the person who has their card. Once your guest gets his or her card back, it also goes in the jar.
Next randomly draw cards from the jar three or four times during the party and award prizes. Nothing incentivises people to play a game the chance to win a prize. I think we gave away some baseball caps, restaurant coupons and some wine.
The fun part was watching our guests really get into trying to figure out where the person on their card was at the party. Some guests worked as teams while others just introduced themselves to strangers to see if they had met the person on the card. By the end of the evening nearly all of our 100 guests had actually got to know each other. Some even became fast friends. So remember a simple game is a great excuse at a party to go up to total strangers and introduce yourself. Its a forced Icebreaker. Try this game sometime at your next gathering.