Dysfunctional Family Bingo


Going to a reunion, wedding, or a long road trip and NOT looking forward to the journey and/or event? Here’s a great tool to try that will help release tension, expand your paradigm, and put a different spin on the experience.

It is called Dysfunctional Family/Event Bingo and was originally designed by best selling self-help author, Martha Beck.

How to play?  A few weeks before the journey or event, find one or two other players, such as a few of your best friends, and set a wager that the losers must buy the winner lunch (for example).  Adding the element of competition to this can make it even more hilarious.

Provide each person with a homemade bingo card. Each player fills her bingo squares with dysfunctional phrases or actions that are likely to surface at her particular event. For example, if you dread the inevitable “So…when are you going to get married?”  that question goes in one square of your bingo card. Or “My kids will say the food is gross, “, or “Bill will want to debate about the President, “ Or “How many times will she tell us the same thing?” are examples.

Take your finished cards to your respective family gatherings (hidden of course in your purse or pocket). Whenever you observe something that appears on your bingo card, mark off that square. The first person to get bingo must sneak off to the nearest telephone, call the other players, and announce her victory. Or use your cell phone to text the word BINGO to the other players.  If no one has a full bingo, the person who has the largest number of filled-out squares wins the game. The winner shall be determined at the post-event meeting, where she will be granted the ever gratifying free lunch.

Even the most functional and loving families can have difficulty managing get-togethers with so many different personalities and inflated expectations.  By anticipating what will happen, and then choosing not to attempt to change your family (which you can’t anyway), you can love and enjoy them as they are, in the moment.

Have a great trip!

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