Throw this party: MINGLO!

Minglo
Photo by Jenny GG

When I first met with Kelli from Shindig Events to scheme my April staff/reader meet-up, Kelli's big question to me was, "What are you doing at this party? What's the point of the gathering?" Such a simple question, but my only answer was "Er, drinking and talking and laughing? I don't know!" We did a little brainstorming on activities, and it went like this:

Ariel: What if we did, like, hipster bingo cards but catered to Offbeat Empire reader interests? People could wander around being all, "You're wearing an octopus accessory! Are you lactating? Who here had a home birth?" I know my readers' tastes like the back of my hand [delicious!], and it could be fun! Sort of like… mingling bingo?

Kelli: YOU MEAN MINGLO!?

Me: I MEAN MINGLO!

And thus a party idea was born. And now you can steal it.

Brainstorm identifiers

We did a big very amusing staff brainstorm about what we should list on the cards, and realized quickly that the items needed to be recognizable but never feeling like "outing" people. One of our early ideas included "non-gender binary" but the last thing we wanted to do was encourage attendees to question each other's gender identities. "SO! YOU LOOK ANDROGYNOUS — TELL ME ABOUT YOUR BOTTOM PARTS." We wanted every item to be something fun that everyone could either immediately recognize or would be eager to talk about with strangers.

Here was our list:
Art degree, Bike parked outside, Blogger, Burlesque performer, Chest tattoo, Chicken owner, Child-free, Circus skills, Converse, Derby girl, Docs Martins, Empire advertiser, Etsy seller, Facial piercing, Freelancer, Geeky tattoo, Genital piercing, Gluten-free, Grad student, Had home birth, Lactating, LARPer, Long-haired dude, Midwife/doula, Octopus, Pet rat, Rainbow, Star Wars, Steampunk, Tabletop gamer, Tribesmaid, Utilikilt, Wearing feathers, Wedding band tattoo, Yogini

Obviously, your list will totally depend on your event and your community. You could go general for a networking event (Drives a Prius). You could go super intimate for a party with your friends (Slept with Casey). Remember, you want to keep it good-natured enough that it's things people WANT to talk about. The goal here is not shame bingo.

Design cards

Our cards were designed by Offbeat Bride's associate editor, Superman. She has nicely provided her template so that you can download it and add your own identifiers!

Download the Minglo template

The doc is a PDF, so if you have Photoshop you can get crazy with it. If you don't, you can print it out and hand-write your identifiers and xerox that shit. Woot!

Establish rules

I didn't think through the rules super carefully before my party (whee!), but I knew I had about 30 prizes to give away. Here's how it ended up working out:

  • People got a card when they arrived
  • They mingled and wrote in the names of their fellow guests
  • When they got Minglo, they shouted it out, and found an Offbeat Empire staffer to write the time on their card
  • Two hours into the party, I gave out prizes, starting with those who'd gotten Minglo first. I had tiers of prizes — one grand prize, 3 second tier, 10 third tier, and 15 fourth tier. I used number of squares checked off total as a way to do tie breakers.

The rules were loosey goosey intentionally, because of course the real goal here is just people talking to each other.

How'd it go for us?

Now, granted, Offbeat Empire readers are little nerdier than most and our event was hosted in a tabletop gaming lounge, but people were INTO Minglo. The grand prize winner (a groom we'd featured on Offbeat Bride) got quadruple Minglo, and basically blacked out his entire card. The prizes were also awesome, which may have helped. Thanks again to Babeland (vibrating things!), MarMar (cute things!), ZOMGsmells (smelly things!), Turtle Love Co (classy things!).

One of the things I really liked is that while the original point of hipster bingo always seemed to be derisive ("fucking sheep — you're all so predictable!"), the goal of Minglo feels celebratory. We share these interests! Let's dork out about them together! I guess this is in keeping with my pro-trend perspective, but it felt like an important distinction for me. It kept the party happy and fun and upbeat instead of, like, "OH NO YOU LIKE OPCTOPODES TOO!? I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE."

Ok, so which identifiers will you be putting on your cards?

  1. This idea can work for a party with old friends too. Last year, my husband and his buddy threw an anniversary party…for their friendship. Hey, 20 years of bromance is worth celebrating! Anyway, we did basically this but with trivia about their friendship. Since most of the people at the party had known each other for a long time, it was a fun way to reminisce about high(and low)lights of our shared past.

    5 agree
  2. I'm a recent education grad, so I could see using edu-speak identifiers for a minglo card: OT list, LTO, ask me about Spec Ed, ask me about ESL, volunteer, dream job!, doing my M.Ed, semi-related career, etc.

    For a certain group I know in my hometown it would probably things like survived alternative school, went to arts high school, attend Unitarian fellowship, Au Grand Bois, Blue Skies, folk fest, home birth, amd favourite local restaurants….now I need to throw a party.

    3 agree
    • That was my first thought too! And how I could get my kids to do it on the first day of school in August.

      0 agree
  3. at first I was like PSHHHH ARIEL CAN'T KNOW ME THAT WELL and then I realized I tick like 5 of those boxes… damn woman, you really do know your readership! (but do you know where I left my embroidery scissors? burning questions)

    5 agree
    • Did you check in the livingroom, behind the magazines?

      10 agree
      • SHE'S A WITCH. BURN HER!
        (turns out they were on the bookcase next to the comic books. TOO CLOSE FOR NON-MAGIC)

        8 agree
  4. Wow…I would have been of no help to anyone at that party if they asked me about any of those! The general idea of the game sounds very fun though and very customizable.

    0 agree
  5. I would add "kinky" but that would be found fairly quickly… Speaks more than one language (conversational + ) and currently reading Poe/Lovecraft as well.

    Will try this sometime ^^

    0 agree
  6. I totally thought about doing this if I got married (I was thinking more scavenger hunt tho!). It'd be a great way for the two families to meet and involve friends who might not know any family members!

    0 agree
  7. That bingo card was like a time machine back to the late 90s/early 00s

    1 agrees
  8. Mingling "get to know you" cards have been around for a while, I think?
    I remember playing similar games on the first day of class in middle school. It would have things like: has a unique pet, plays a musical instrument, is a twin, is wearing a striped shirt, etc.

    But as an adult now, I could see things like: homesteader, something s/he made was on TV/in a movie, listens to screamo, Northern Cities Vowel Shift…

    1 agrees
  9. So very quickly, I challenged myself to fill out one of these cards for my friends-group in a way that would be slightly challenging but winnable. I'm thinking it would actually take the room a lot of mingling to get a MINGLO!
    This is what I came up with…

    1 agrees
  10. Did this at my wedding pre-party, in a super low tech Word table. It was AWESOME. Stuff like traveled more than 500 miles to get here, speaks a language other than English, plays a musical instrument, willing to sing to you right now, less than half your age, more than twice your age, etc. Especially awesome in mixed company, I think–it got the young folks talking to the old folks, and my family talking to his family, and local friends talking to far-flung friends. Good times.

    1 agrees
    • Such a good idea to use this at your wedding functions!

      1 agrees
  11. I really enjoyed minglo because I have social anxiety and really am not good at social events with a lack of structure (without a specific thing to do I tend to spend my time quietly eating, listening to other people talk, then drifting back towards the wall and waiting for it to be acceptable to leave). Here I knew exactly what I was doing, asking people specific questions (do you have circus skills? Have you filled in your tabletop gamer square?) and a perfectly natural reason to circulate (saying "I think I see a long-haired man coming in; it was nice to meet you!" made sense in this context, and not like something John Cusack might have said in Better off Dead).

    Also was really good for helping me remember people's names.

    8 agree
    • So this. I could totally see my people out there who were more comfortable with a game format than just flat-out mingling. ;)

      3 agree
  12. I'm like ten of those things. I would have been very helpful!

    This sounds fun. I'm stealing it for lots of different things. Kids, work, other people's weddings…. yeah.

    0 agree
  13. LOVE this idea. I'm on the exec board of an organization at my law school for next year, and this could make such a great networking event! People never know what to say at those events anyway, so this could really start some interesting conversations beyond, "So what's your job and what are you interested in?"

    0 agree
  14. I totally read "Drives a Prius" as "Drives a penis" and thought that was a super weird way of asking someone about their genitals haha.

    6 agree
  15. THIS! so totally beats a treasure hunt as a party mingler.
    I am hitting a big number birthday this year and am trying to work three distinct groups together. Houston, I think we have solved the problem.

    0 agree
  16. I incorporated this game into my program/activity books for our wedding last Sun, and it was actually more of a hit than I thought it would be! We had several guests get really into trying to fill in all their squares .It was a great way to get guests who came from very different walks of life to interact with one another!

    0 agree
  17. This just became our "cocktail" hour at our wedding! I actually have it on our FAQ page on our wedding site
    What should/could I do between the ceremony and the reception?
    Enjoy our signature drink at cocktail hour and mingle (mingle we say)
    Now our guest will do MINGLO! thank you for the brilliant idea!

    0 agree

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