How To Organise A Game Of Street Bingo

Bingo in Nuneaton's Grand, by Michael Hess.

As lockdown continues, and we’re all missing our trip out to the local bingo hall – but there is still hope. I’ve been seeing groups of people playing bingo in the street as this goes on, it’s becoming a popular way of breaking the quarantine boredom, having a bit of social fun and raising morale. Don’t believe me? Here’s some photos I spotted of a game last night in Splott, Cardiff, photographed by Wayne Tugwell.

Planning And Promoting Your Street Bingo Night

Now, if this is something you fancy organising yourself, you’ll need to put a bit of planning in. I thought I would lend my experience to this, and go through how I would plan an event like this, and what equipment I would have to hand.

The first thing you need is, well, stating the obvious, a street! But how do you let everyone know? Here we have an email group and all the neighbours keep in touch via that. You might have a Whatsapp for the street, or you may need to go old school and put flyers through people’s doors to get a buzz going. Either way, I’m sure you can figure a way of getting everyone involved (that wants to be.)

What You’ll Need For Street Bingo

Next up you’ll need the gear, which can be as low-fi as you want. If you’re like me you might have a book or two of bingo tickets in the cupboard. If not, your corner store might have books of tickets, or you may be able to pick some up at your local large supermarket. If all else fails, you can get them cheaply online from a couple of sources:

I wouldn’t suggest doing home-made tickets if you have a lot of people who want to play, as you have to make sure you give everyone a different ticket. However, if you want a good joke you could ensure everyone gets a ticket that is the same, that way, the whole street will shout house at the same time. Could be a laugh!

Next you will need your numbers to call out. Again, this may be as low-fi as you want. At home in the past we have had family games the numbers 1-90 written in paper and cut up to into squares and pulled from a scrabble bag. It works perfectly well (as long as the numbers don’t blow away). If that’s not good enough, you can get a cage online cheaply, if you want to look a bit more professional, here’s a couple of selections for you:

Socially Distancing Whilst Distributing Tickets To Neighbours

Everyone will need their tickets. If you’re having a few games, you could staple the tickets in order like at the hall, with each game a different colour ticket. This isn’t essential though as really Street Bingo is a bit of fun. Then your neighbours will need their tickets. You have to observe social distancing guidelines, and not hand them directly to your neighbours.

If you want to be super efficient you could put each households tickets into an envelope and post them a few days in advance. They could leave them for a couple of days to ensure they are germ free if you should be unfortunate enough to have Covid 19 and not be showing any symptoms. Alternatively, you could place your bingo tickets on a table in the street, then neighbours could come and take a book immediately before the games begin, taking it in turns to ensure social distancing is observed.

Calling Your Numbers For Street Bingo

Check everyone has their tickets, check they all have pens, then you’re set to begin. Now comes the fun, as organiser, you’re probably going to be the person calling the numbers. Do you need a loud hailer of some sorts or are you loud enough to be able to shout the numbers down the street? Well, you decide, and maybe have a back-up plan if no one can hear you. You could relay numbers, so a person every few doors down repeat the numbers to those further away. You could add a microphone to your stereo system, or maybe you have a Karaoke box or something.

It’s important to remember to that this is not a professional bingo hall environment, this is a fun event for the street. Mistakes will be made, people won’t be paying attention, others may mishear. You have to allow for this and grin and bear it.

If it is a fun event, you could use the old style bingo rhymes to make the event even more fun, or you could even make up a few that relate to your neighbours. Keep it clean and unoffensive though, there will be children present and you don’t want an offended neighbour breaking social distancing to smack you one because you said something unpleasant about their partner. Here’s our list of bingo number rhymes to get it going.

As always, listen intently for a call of house or bingo. You will have to check the numbers you called against the winning ticket, so have those numbers you pulled out of a bag or cage laid out so you can quickly recount your numbers. Once you’re happy you have a winning ticket, on to the next game. Remember, this is about fun and not the commercial speed of a bingo hall, these games could take a lot longer and that’s ok.

Prizes For Your Street Bingo

Ok, this Street Bingo will essentially have to be prize bingo if you don’t want to worry about gambling regulations and that! What sort of prizes is up to you – maybe you could have a whip around to buy some luxury items, or maybe a bake-off for prizes to share. They don’t have to be big prizes. It could be, a bottle of wine, a small box of chocolates or a 9 pack of toilet rolls from the stockpile you have in the shed. Whatever, improvise, have fun, make the prizes fun and a part of the fun. I’ll leave that to your imagination.

And Finally

As I’ve said already, this is a fun event, a morale booster, a chance for the street to socialise whilst you all mark off the numbers. Have a good time, maintain social distancing at all times and relax. It’s so nice to have a distraction from everything that’s going at the moment, and I think for many of us, Street Bingo could be the perfect tonic!

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