Bunco – One of My Favorite Family-Friendly, Grab’n’Go Games

This past New Year’s Eve I was hit with a party dilemma.  We were hosting a big family party at our house and I needed a game that could be played by everyone – adults and kids.  There are lots of games on the market that can be ‘played by all ages’ but I wanted something that could actually be enjoyed and possibly won by all ages.  Finally, a few hours before the party, I remembered a fun dice game I had learned back in Ohio called Bunco.  I’m sure some of you have heard of it.

They sell boxed Bunco games at Target and WalMart, but they’re catered to a very girls-night-out crowd (the dice are hot pink, for pity sake) and look pretty cheaply made.  I was sure I could come up with something better so I ran to the dollar store and grabbed a few packs of dice, colorful pens (for scorekeeping), and some cheap prizes.  I whipped up the scorecards on my computer while my husband set up some folding tables in the basement.  In less than 20 minutes (and for about $12) our Bunco game was set up and ready to go – just in time for the guests to arrive.

Bunco Game Supplies for Low Table

Overall, the game was a big success.  Since the game requires players to switch partners every round, there were tons of opportunities to mix; so every player got a chance to pair up with (and trash talk) every other player.   Additionally, there’s really no strategy to Bunco (it’s an easy-to-learn, pure luck game) so my 6 year-old daughter had just as much chance of winning as her Grandpa did.  In fact, it was my 8 year-old son Jack who beat us all and was promptly crowned the ‘King of New Years’.  The effect was exactly what I was hoping for – a few hours of laughter and fun for adults and kids alike.

Bunco Kit Supplies

After the party, I started thinking about how many other ways I could use Bunco.  For example, there are several new couples in our ward that I’m anxious to invite over and I think this game would be a great way to laugh and get acquainted.  It would also be a fabulous mutual game – perfect for combined young men/young women activities because the partners get to switch all the time.  And of course, it makes a fantastic girls night game.  The group I was part of in Ohio had monthly Bunco nights – each month at a different house.  It was a monthly get-away that we all looked forward to!

Some people think that Bunco is limiting because it’s traditionally only played with 12 people.  However, we’ve played it with as few as 8 and as many as 24.  You just need to adjust the number of game tables and teams per table to your specific number of players.  You can even play with odd numbers if you play with a “ghost” (read the comments area for more details) or skip the ‘team’ idea completely and have everyone roll for their own points.  Trust me, there are ways to make it work for any type of party.  All you need is a group of energetic players and a Bunco Kit of your own and you’ll be good to go.

Bunco1

The good news is that now you don’t have to settle on that obnoxiously pink kit that’s available in the stores.  I spent the last few days re-designing the Bunco Kit I hurriedly made on New Years and it’s now available in my Etsy shop.  It’s colorful, coordinated, and perfect for any of the Bunco parties I described above.  Best of all, it’s available in two forms –  the ready-to-go pre-cut set (handmade by me) or a printable set (to be handmade by you).  Whichever option you choose, you’ll have everything you need to get your party rolling in no time (sorry, I just couldn’t resist that pun).

Bunco4

I hope you guys love it as much as we did!  Good luck.  Let me know if you have any questions or if you come up with any other clever ways to use this great game.  I’m always looking for new party ideas.  Just thought I’d pass it on.


6 Comments

  1. We played this at our family reunion. It was lots of fun! I would recommend this game to anyone like Maria said, young and old. My only question is “where are the washable markers?”

    • Hey Mindy, I just had another reader ask me about your ‘washable markers’ comment so I thought I’d better explain to the rest of the group.

      Mindy is my awesome big sister and her comment is referring to a Bunco game my hubby and I hosted at a family reunion years ago. We wanted to up the ante a little so we put washable markers on each game table along with the dice and scorecards and stuff. After each round, the winning team used the markers to add their initials to the losing team’s faces. The higher the table, the bigger the mark that was allowed. By the end of the game the faces (and arms) of every family member were covered with washable brag marks. It was tons of fun.

      Our New Year’s party was with my husband’s family – had I thought about it that night, I definitely would have included the washable markers! Thanks for the reminder, Min. I sure love ya.

  2. Ha! I actually played that game tonight at my party. I hosted a “Thank you for hosting a show with me” party. It was just a get together with all the girls that have hosted shows with me in the past and we had a great time. We played several rounds and every winner got to pick a prize from my goody bag. Some of them were jewelry pieces and some had nothing to do with Lia Sophia at all. It’s a very easy game to learn and everyone can play! I admit, I have the pink fuzzy dice game from Target. Your version looks great!

  3. My family down south have been raving about Bunco for years but I haven’t played it so far because I thought you had to have 12 people or it couldn’t be done. It’s not always easy to get that exact number together!!! I would love to hear about how to play it with a “ghost” player. Want to give this a try soon!

    • Hey Cyn, thanks for the question. It’s really easy to play with a ‘ghost’.

      Essentially you play the game as you normally would but the person who is paired with the ‘ghost’ rolls for both players. For example, if I’m at the low table and my teammate is missing (ie the game has 11 players instead of 12), I would roll on my own turn and roll on my ‘ghost’ partner’s turn. I get all the points and any buncos that are rolled. If ‘we’ win, we move up to the middle table and switch partners with the losers from the high table – so now one of the losers from the high table would be paired with the ‘ghost’. The game continues on the same way from there.

      I hope that makes sense. Let me know if it doesn’t and I’ll give it another go. ;) Good luck.

Leave a Reply