With the recent launch and success of plenty of online bingo rooms, the rebrand of Gala and the club-focused Bongo’s Bingo, it seems that just about everybody is starting to get back into the little-balled craze.
I didn’t think we’d ever see the day that we’d see bingo dominating the nightlife scene in cities around the UK – but cut to 2019 and that’s exactly what’s going on.
With Bongo’s Bingo covering up to 3 nights per week in some of the biggest cities, it’s safe to say that bingo’s back and back in spectacular fashion. So much so that it’s one of the most popular themes for parties, whether it’s a family get-together, a night in with friends or the start of a hen night – it’s perfect for every occasion.
I know what you’re thinking – you want in on the action, right? Why wouldn’t you – it’s something a little different, it’s great fun and it’s not like you need a whole lot of rule explaining. If someone doesn’t know how to play bingo in this day and age, I’m not sure they should be invited at all.
So, without further ado, here’s the ultimate guide to hosting your very own bingo party to impress your friends, family, and neighbours (well, in a sense).
First thing’s first, your bingo gear
Get you bingo wings on, it’s time to go shopping.
You can’t have a bingo party without all the equipment – we’re not talking fancy lighting, microphone and digital read-out – just a collection of numbered balls, a small bingo machine, a couple of cards, some prizes and you’re away to go.
The bingo ball machine
The way I see it, you’ve got two choices to set up your game of bingo before your guests arrive with dabbers at the ready.
You go the whole 9-yards, a bingo ball machine with all the trimmings.
We’re talking a spherical metal cage with a collection of numbered sphere’s (don’t worry, you can use these again at your soon-to-be-announced lottery party).
If I were you, I’d choose this one. You can pick up a decent machine on Amazon for under £20 and it’ll add bags of character to the game – much better than option 2…
Okay, you’re doing things on the cheap – online bingo caller-outer.
Head over to Google, type in “play bingo with random number generator” or whatever else you can think of – hit search and you’re away. You’ve got yourself a game of bingo, but it is just on your laptop screen and everybody’s only semi-interested.
It’s a no-brainer really. Do you want to struggle to read numbers off a screen or rock the whole bingo ball machine?
Either way, the choice is yours.
The bingo cards and dabbers
You’ve got the machine sorted (or you’ve been super cheap and went for the online caller) and just have to plan out the cards and dabbers.
You’re spoiled for choice here. Either the ball machine that you (should) have purchased comes with its own cards or you’ve got to get some sorted yourself. If it’s the latter, you can pick up cards super cheap online, or you can even find a few and print them out to save a couple of quid.
Just make sure that you’re printing out different cards – you don’t want everyone screaming bingo at the same time… Oh and if you’re looking for brownie points – print those bad boys on some high-quality photo paper. Ker-ching.
For the dabbers, it’s best to pick some up online. The devil’s in the details if you’re just sharing an IKEA pencil and an Argos pen between 7, you’ll quickly understand the value.
Bonuses and prizes
It’s the taking part, it’s the winning – that’s the whole idea behind bingo, isn’t it?
Unlike playing online, you can’t have a party that takes advantage of new player bonuses, loyalty schemes and player promotions (you can find those at BingoBonuses.co.uk) – you’ll have to get some actual prizes instead.
Whether that comes in the form of a bottle of bubbly, a nice set of chocolates or a supercar driving experience day is entirely up to you.
Just make sure that you’ve got enough to cover the number of games that you’re wanting to be playing!
What about the decor?
Next up, you’ve got the decor and what bingo party would be complete without a variety of weird ornaments around your living room.
If you’ve ever been to a bingo hall, you’ll know that they aren’t exactly the most interesting of places and the decor is a bit, well-dated, for lack of a better word. So that’s exactly what you should be trying to emulate in your own home.
Maybe make a rug out of some old bus seats for an authentic well-used carpet, add a couple of stains and if you can find them, some tables from the 80s and 90s for you and your pals to sit around. You know, make it feel like you’re really in a good old fashioned bingo room.
In all seriousness, there’s not a lot you need to do when it comes to the decor – maybe dim the lights a little, add some bunting if you fancy (bunting works in every situation) and you’ll be golden.
You could even add a cardboard cutout of an OAP if you really want to create an accurate environment.
The all-important food + drink
Next up, and finally, providing that you’re not one of those that does a “Come Dine With Me” dress-up situation, food and drink.
Is there anything better suited than a finger-food buffet to suit your bingo-themed party – I don’t think so.
That’s exactly what we’re going to be suggesting for your party. We’re talking all of the good stuff, party rings, mini sausage rolls, cheese and onion on sticks – that sort of stuff. You cannot go wrong with a great little buffet.
Get yourself to Tesco and get yourself a trolley.
Drinks will make or break your bingo party, so it might be a good idea to make this your focus.
First off – are your guests going to be drinking alcohol and how much will they be drinking. If it’s a family gathering, just a couple of bottles of wine will be fine, but if you’re kicking off a hen-party, you might want something a little stronger.
Whichever drinks you normally tend to will be fine, gin, vodka or any other spirits – just make sure that you’ve got yourself enough mixers to go around.
It’s best not to overthink this sort of thing, after all, it’s just a normal party – just with added bingo!
A bingo party for the ages
So there you have it, the ultimate guide to hosting your very own bingo party.
The formula is simple, buy a bingo ball machine, get some cards made up and plenty of prizes to dish out. Add a little bit of effort to the decor, maybe a little bunting, maybe a cardboard cutout of your nan and you’re good to go.
Finish off with a good old fashioned buffet, don’t to go big on the drinks (if it’s a party party) and you’re sorted.
A bingo party for the ages!