Have you ever heard of Bunco? I hadn’t until I was invited into a group 15 months ago. Through this food-consuming, wine-drinking, laugh-’til-we-cry, dice-rolling group of women, where the nights always inevitably result in conversations about sex and periods, I have met so many new friends and neighbors who I can rely on. It’s truly been a highlight of each month, so I’d like to share the setup with you.
Bunco is a game usually played by all females living within a neighborhood. This allows you to meet other ladies in close proximity to increase the amount of neighbors you know and improve the community feel. Twelve women form the group and each month, you rotate whose house you play at. The good thing about 12 members is you only have to host once a year! The other 11 months, all you have to do is show up! Another good thing about Bunco is that it’s a dice game, so there is no skill or intelligence involved! You can be extremely tired and/or drink all the wine you want and it won’t matter. This game was made for exhausted moms who need a night away from the house, but still have the option to drunkenly walk home like you’re still in college.
Here are the materials you’ll need on your hosting month (many of these items go in a Bunco box and get rotated to the next host each month so not every person needs to own a bell, for example):
- 9 dice (3 per table)
- 3 tables where 4 people can sit (ottomans, coffee tables, card tables, islands with stools are all acceptable. Make it work!)
- Scorecards for each person (printouts below)
- Point tracker cards for each table (have extras available) (printouts below)
- Directional card reminders so you know what table to go to when you win/lose each round
- A few pens or pencils at each table
- Instructions in case people need to read them over or you have a sub (which with 12 people will inevitably happen each month)
- 7 prizes priced at $20, $15, $10, $5, $5, $5 and something small/cheap that can be easily passed around. The small item is called the bunco gift and anytime someone gets a bunco, the gift gets passed to them. Whoever has the last bunco of the night keeps the bunco gift.
- A nice, prepared meal for 12 people (taco bars, salad bars, baked potato bars are easy ideas)
- Bowl of candy on each table (optional)
My group meets for two hours one Sunday each month. Obviously, your group can pick whatever day and length you want. The first hour is eating and socializing. The second hour is playing the game. We usually get two full games in, sometimes three.
Sit in a square formation at each table and the person diagonal from you is your partner for the first round. Each table plays independently. Once everyone is ready to begin, someone at the head table rings the bell. Take turns rolling all three dice at your table. The first person continues to roll as long as they’re rolling any 1s. Once they don’t roll any 1s, it goes to the next person. A scorekeeper at each table tallies how many 1s are being rolled for their team vs the other team. (Note: If you roll 3 of a kind but it’s not the number of this round, it’s called a “mini bunco” and is 5 points. If you roll 3 of a kind and it is the number of this round, it’s called a “bunco” and is an automatic 21 points). Once one of the teams at the head table gets 21 points total, they ring the bell and everyone stops playing after the current roller at each table finishes their turn. Based on what table you’re at (head, middle, pit) and whether or not you won or lost that round, you’ll stay or move on as follows:
- Head Table Win – stay and keep partner
- Head Table Lose – move to pit and change partner
- Middle Table Win – move to head table and keep partner
- Middle Table Lose – stay and change partner
- Pit Table Win – move to middle table and change partner
- Pit Table Lose – stay and change partner
Once everyone is in position for round 2, the head table rings the bell and everyone tries to roll 2s, and so on until you’ve done these same steps through 6 rounds. Make sure you’re marking your scorecard W (win) or L (lose) after each round and don’t forget to tally up any buncos you get during the night. When you’re completely done playing, add up your Wins and Losses (any buncos count as additional wins).
Now for the prizes! The host shows what prizes they bought and their price value. Here is the order on how people choose their prize:
- Most Buncos
- Most Wins
- Second Most Wins
- Last Bunco
- Most Losses
- Fold up scorecards of anyone without a prize and draw a name
You can obviously modify this for your group. Do a monthly potluck instead of preparing the whole meal once a year. Instead of neighbors, get your book club together or church friends or whatever group you want. Choose your own rules on winner order. Your prizes can be actual gifts, gift cards, cash or just bragging rights to keep it cheap. Play once a quarter if your group is super busy or twice a month if your schedules (and husbands) allow. For the money you put towards prizes, pay $20 per quarter or $5 per month or don’t do fees and just handle the price of prizes for your hosting month. Make it work for your group!
I realize this may sound complicated, so I’ve included a few printouts below to help you get started. Pinterest also has a TON of materials and alternate/more in-depth instructions. After a couple parties it will seem super easy…and you’ll be having so much fun you won’t even care if you’re messing it up.