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.
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.
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!
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!
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?