Family Gathering Getting You Down? Lighten it up with Famingo!

So here we are.  The time of the year we all love to hate.  When Grandma’s strange recipe for fruit-cocktail-Jello-salad is unearthed, and the clan of second-cousins-once-removed emerge from the wood works.  When a dinner is considered successful if little Genie makes it through the meal without spilling a glass of wine, cousin Jim refrains from lighting the table on fire, and Grandpa keeps from crying.  When the twins Lucy-Lou and Sue-Kate hide Uncle Innes’ brand new fedora in the oven, and you find your dad on the bathroom floor drunk, talking himself out of being sick at 3pm.  It’s the Holidays!  Whatever you celebrate, and wherever you find yourself this year, I guarantee this homemade game will be a splendid way to celebrate the madness!  I present, Famingo.

What is Famingo, you ask?  Well, Famingo is a game my friend Heather V. created with her sister out of the necessity to make light of the predictable dramatics and uncomfortable moments that crop up in their family gathering each year.   Famingo uses the rules of “Bingo,” but instead of having numbers on the boards, you replace them with things/situations that tend to happen each year.

1. Brainstorm – Start by finding a sane “ally” or two in the (family) group to play with you.  With this small group, brainstorm 25 or more boring, wild, or offensive things that tend to occur every year at the annual gathering.  For example: “Uncle Bob tucks his napkin in his shirt.” and “Billy makes us all sing a song.” and “Aunt Karen wears a Bump-it.”  Now write all these predictable things down on individual slips of paper.  Put all the papers in an empty bag.

2. Create your Famingo Board – Make a board for each person playing with 25 squares on it.  (5 across x 5 down)  Each person randomly draws out slip of paper for each of the squares and writes them on their Famingo Board.  (This is a little bit time consuming, because you want to make sure that each board is totally different.)

3. Play the Game – Here’s the fun part!  At the annual family gathering, hide your boards in safe, accessible spots.  As things occur that are found on your Famingo Board, check them off.  The first person to have 5 checks in a row (up, down, or diagonal) wins!

Now, instead of wanting to kill yourself when Shonda brings out the 100th photo of her dog, you and your ally will be trying to keep your giggle fit under wraps.  Life becomes bearable again!  Inside jokes will save the day!  And you can go home and laugh about it over spiked cider.  Cheers to you for surviving.

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About the author

Danielle Levanas - Bargain Soul Huntress

Danielle was raised by a pack of coyotes in the Los Angeles hills. Since arriving in NY in 2001, she has had any number of strange jobs, including back-up singing for JELVIS (the Jewish Elvis), starting the non-profit LYDIA, and writing political cabarets. A huge advocate for travel as a way of life, you can find her at the Brooklyn Public Library when her bank account is empty, fantasizing about where to head off to next.