We’ve come a long way since March 2020, but the spectre of lockdown still looms large as we approach the winter months. In Lockdown 1 – which sounds like a really, really bad movie – it was the pub quiz and Tiger Kind that kept us entertained.
By the time Lockdown 2 came around we had all gotten bored of baking banana bread and had replaced our running challengers with daily walks to break up the TikTok binges.
If you’re busy planning ahead for a possible Lockdown 3 or just want a cool way to bring everyone together a virtual bingo night could be right up your street. Read on to for our step-by-step guide of putting on your own evening of virtual bingo fun.
Step 1: Organise your Friends
Whether it be a work problem or something at home, it’s always worth tackling your toughest task head on at the beginning of the day rather than leaving it until the last minute. It’s the same when it comes to organising your own virtual bingo night. While it might be a great idea, when it comes to it you might find yourself questioning, how to play bingo online with friends?
The most stressful aspect of all will be getting all your friends to agree to one night and commit to joining. The best thing to do is set up a WhatsApp group (‘witty’ names optional) and add all the people you want to play into the group.
Once you have everyone assembled it’s time to work out a time and a date for your inaugural virtual bingo night. It’s important to be flexible and offer your guests a range of dates to be as inclusive as possible.
Keep in mind that some may have family commitments on certain days of the week and that others could even be signed up for an online bingo tournament on a particular day. Whichever date you go with, make sure it works for the majority of your group.
Step 2: Pick a Platform
Now that you have a time and date sorted for your first virtual bingo night it’s time to start thinking about how you’re all going to communicate with one another. It’s no good writing ‘BINGO’ into a WhatsApp group chat.
Fortunately though the pandemic has brought into focus just how many great video communication tools there are out there. If you’re struggling for inspiration here’s a brief description of each app so you can see which suits your group the best:
Skype: The old classic. Skype is the original video calling software and it’s completely free to use and easy to understand. If your friends aren’t the professional type and don’t cope too well with technology, Skype is the most stress free option.
Zoom: Ahh Zoom, the big winner of Lockdowns 1 and 2. Zoom is superior to Skype in terms of quality, but that does come at a cost. Free group sessions on the app are limited to 40 minutes, so if you’re planning on going over that time frame Zoom might not be the best choice.
Houseparty: Another winner from Lockdown 1 and 2, Houseparty is a great mobile app that can be used by anyone. It even comes with its own games facilities to get your group going before the virtual bingo begins. It is however limited to a maximum of 8 people so it’s not great for larger groups.
Discord: The app of the YouTube streamer and serious gamer. Discord is a great app for the tech savvy out there, but probably beyond the technological capabilities of a 65 year old called Brenda…
Facebook Messenger Rooms: ‘U k hun?’ is the staple of every Facebook page, but now you can use the social media app for more than responding to cryptic updates and arguing in comments sections about what to call a bread roll. Messenger rooms allow up to 50 people to video chat for free, a great option that should suit the majority of your friends.
(Your guide to getting the most out of Facebook Messenger Rooms.)
Step 3: The Logistics
Now that you have a time and date along with a method of communication it’s time to get down into the nitty gritty. Unless you have a bingo machine at home you’re going to need to use an online Random Number Generator (RNG.)
You can find a good, easy to use bingo RNG with a simple Google search but if you’re struggling, follow this link. This site allows you to adjust your numbers for 75 or 90 ball bingo and calls out the numbers along with the customary bingo slang.
Next up you’ll need to sort out some bingo cards. There are two ways to do this, we’ll call them the Netto and the Waitrose way. If you opt for the Netto approach you’ll ask your guests to create their own bingo cards by hand using a RNG.
If you opt for the Waitrose option you’ll head to a website like THIS where you can download bingo cards and print them out for a professional look. Either way is fine, it just comes down to how realistic you want your virtual bingo evening to feel.
The final piece of the puzzle is working out the financials, a good idea to make the evening as fun as possible is to keep prices cheap. Charge your guests around £1 a entry and then agree on either giving the money to the winner in person or on transferring them the money via bank transfer.
All that’s left to do now is crack open the vino and enjoy your virtual bingo night!