In October 2021, when the Covid pandemic had eased somewhat in Germany, I was faced with a challenge: I wanted to celebrate my 30th birthday with friends. Doesn’t sound complicated at first. But my guest list was quite mixed and ranged from friends, relatively new acquaintances to colleagues from work. My guests for the most part didn’t know each other or hadn’t seen each other for a while. In addition, for many people it was their first major party in 1.5 years. My biggest fear was that people would stay in their cliques and form “islands of conversation” that would keep to themselves over the course of the party and not interact. Not the standard I set for myself as a host, so I needed an icebreaker.
Fortunately, I remembered the idea of a buddy of mine who, many years ago at a student party, had guests play a sort of people memory game to break the ice and encourage social interaction. And the cards function of teamshufflr was perfect for that. But step by step.
First, I roughly estimated how many people would show up – about 40. Then I created 40 teamshufflr cards with two features each for groups of 2, so there were exactly two features on each card, but never the same features. The cards came out looking like this:
On the day of the party, I gave each new arrival one of these printed cards when they came in, with a note to find people with the same features on their cards. If two people found their respective counterparts with one equal feature on the card, they could pick up a prize from me. So each guest had extrinsic motivation – and a pretty good excuse – to approach people to find their counterpart.
What can I say, the plan totally worked. If two guests were standing next to each other who didn’t know each other yet, it was easy to start a conversation with “So, what’s on your card?”. Throughout the evening, people came up to me who had “found each other” and picked up their reward (in the form of snacks/shots 😉). Nearly everyone had talked to everyone by the end of the party, and the celebration was a complete success.
Besides birthday parties, this can of course be applied to any event where previously unknown people meet, be it weddings, conventions, sports tournaments. Just get creative, adapt the features thematically to your occasion, or combine the people memory with another game….