Christmas is the perfect time to power-down your mobile devices, and gather your friends and family around for a simple game that's fun for everyone…
For many of us, board games are an essential part of Christmas – they transport us back to simpler, more analogue times when snow was a real possibility and the Wizard of Oz was the only thing on TV. However Christmas is not the time for playing head-scratching strategy games or anything requiring complicated mental arithmetic. It’s a time for games which are light-hearted, cross-generational, and most of all that you can still remember how to play after downing a mulled wine or three.
The perfect Christmas games tend to be games of chance, where luck plays the biggest part in determining the winner (although your chances generally increase dramatically if you do pay attention). Many of these games involve cards, and some involve bits of plastic, straws, marbles and the odd dice or two. One of the simplest but most enduring chance-led multi-player games is Bingo – a game which went from humble beginnings to become a world phenomenon.
Bingo works on the same principles as Lotto. The game has its origins in sixteenth-century Italy, but it was an eighteenth century French game Le Lotto (with squares laid out in three rows and nine columns). This was the inspiration for Beano – a version of the game created by Hugh J Ward in 1920s USA and played with beans (hence the name). Edwin Lowe took the game to New York and it soon became a craze (and somehow changed from Beano to Bingo). It was in the UK where Bingo really took off though, with Bingo being played at fairs, village halls and seaside amusement parks, with many purpose-built Bingo halls built up and down the country. As TV took over and the public fell out of love with movie-going, many high street cinemas closed. Many then became Bingo halls, and at its peak in the 1970s there were nearly 2,000 Bingo clubs in the UK.
Anyone who’s been to a Bingo club night will know that it’s not a game for the faint-hearted. The numbers are called at 100mph in a special and very un-PC code (with examples such as ‘Two Fat ladies – 88’) and there’s even a special pen for stamping out numbers. Woe betide anyone who calls ‘house’ by mistake – it’s the ultimate faux-pas in the world of Bingo, and you can expect daggers looks and much ‘tutting’ from your fellow players. While it’s seen by many as an activity for the older generation, Bingo has recently enjoyed something of a cool makeover at the hands of Shoreditch hipsters – it seems no-one, however cool, is immune to Bingo’s enduring appeal.
For a fun way of playing Bingo this Christmas, check out our beautifully illustrated and very popular cat, dog, bird and bug Bingo sets. And once you’ve finished with Bingo, there’s also a range of very cool Trump cards to provide even more unplugged entertainment for all your friends and family.