December 24, 2018

The Awkward Olive: Introducing a Holiday-Relevant Game For Gatherings

This year I’m attending holiday festivities with thirteen people I don’t really know. Most of them know each other, as at least five of them grew up in the same house, the rest are partners, extended family, and me.

You know at a salad bar when you notice an olive has rolled into the shredded carrots, and you think “Hey! You don’t belong here!” At gatherings like these, I am that olive. I feel so obviously out of place that I mostly sit quietly, awkwardly, nodding yes and no at the appropriate times, and secretly praying for some giant tongs to come down from the sky and take me home.

In anticipation of another such experience, yesterday I asked myself “What can I do differently?” This strikes me as a nice example of a grounding concept of Conscious Leadership, 100% Responsibility.

I had an idea: A secret game. I would write everyone’s name on one piece of paper and challenge myself to discover three things about each person at the event. A little cheesy perhaps, but my way clearly has not been working. I’m starting to think those giant life-saving tongs don’t even exist.

Then I wondered why the game needed to be secret, maybe others would want to play too. I dismissed this quickly, remembering that everyone already knows each other.”And then I remembered Danielle’s post about how the Holiday’s can be frustrating when your family sees you as you used to be rather than as you are now. I realized it could be interesting for everyone to get to know each other all over again.

So, tonight I’m test-piloting this game and Sue suggested I share it with you in case it might amplify your holiday experience. It’s a variation on Bingo. I welcome name suggestions.

The game goes like this:

  1. Everyone gets a piece of paper with a list of everyone else’s name.
  2. Each person learns one thing they didn’t know about every other person and writes it down.
  3. When someone has discovered something new about everyone else, they can yell “Bingo!”  But everyone else gets to keep playing... this isn’t a competition, people.
  4. Then, over dessert or presents or whenever feels right, go around the room, and for each person, everyone else will share the new thing they learned about that person. This way we all may get to know several new things about each other.
  5. Some people may feel as awkward playing this game as I feel being the awkward olive, so it’s 100% opt in. No one has to play.

If you want to bring this game to your gathering, all you have to do is type the names of the attendees in a list with equal spacing and print enough copies for everyone. I recommend bringing enough pens, too.  Bonus points for creating an actual Bingo board.

If you end up giving it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes for you. And whether or not you play the game, if you have an awkward olive at your holiday gathering, consider helping them feel as welcome as each and every shredded carrot.

Leah Pearlman

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