what could we do instead of musical chairs?
March 10, 2017 12:02 PM   Subscribe

longer explanation below, but essentially I'm looking for suggestions of game alternatives to musical chairs (preferably not too physical/challenging) to whittle down participants until there is only one left.

hello, my brilliant friends of askmefi. my fiance and I are holding a potluck wedding in a few weeks, and we're trying to come up with a fun + fair way to organize which tables get to go get their dinner first. obviously the first table chosen will have the widest, warmest array of dishes to choose from, so it makes sense to gamify things somewhat, a bit of friendly competition for first access to the yumminess.

fiance suggested that we get one person representing each table and have a game of musical chairs to decide on the order in which tables get to eat. my concern was that musical chairs might be a bit too physical for a crowd which includes guests of varying ages and physical abilities. I would feel pretty rotten if someone got hurt, or ended up eating a crappy meal because they weren't limber enough to beat the more athletic participants.

can any of you think of some other kind of game/competition whereby we can assign tables to a food hierarchy, without it being solely luck (e.g. a random draw)? the idea of gamification / motivation is a good one I think, just needs the right implementation.
posted by isaacq to Society & Culture (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Heads or tails? (I guess the whole table would need to choose the same thing, or else there would just be one representative per table)
posted by superfish at 12:10 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


Hot-Potato is a game that is just like musical chairs except you're passing an object around a circle of seated people instead of walking around a circle of chairs. The physical component is in dexterity to handle the object (tennis-ball, or something related to your wedding), and in the fact that statistically the less time it spends in your hands the less likely you are to be holding it when the music stops.

Tell the people what the game is and let them nominate someone from their table - it's then up to the table to choose someone competent. If you've got a table that is 100% old aunties, then sure, this could be a problem. And it does in general bias things towards the rowdy college friends getting first pick, as opposed to you choosing to be polite to your elderly relatives.
posted by aimedwander at 12:11 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


This doesn't sound like a great idea; it's a bit patronizing. Presumably there will be enough food for everyone, and it'll be kept warm, right? And those not eating yet will have access to a bar?

If you insist on this, something like Hot Potato would work. You could do this variation and have a number in each layer, which is when the table would get to go.

But yeah, I would mostly just be annoyed by this.
posted by punchtothehead at 12:11 PM on March 10 [20 favorites]


Stupid trivia about the couple?
posted by phunniemee at 12:12 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


A "count the beans in the jar" type game? Or a similar question / guess relating to the happy couple (but not sth that would give people an advantage who know you better. Sth random like "how many minutes did the couple spend writing invites").

If it were me I'd make sure it's something where everyone can participate, rather than one "representative" from each table. I may be a really terrible person, but I think I'd be pissed if my table had to go last because our "representative" lost (and would feel terrible if I was the representative and ruined it for my table!).
posted by ClarissaWAM at 12:13 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Rock Paper Scissors tournament?

Minute To Win It games

You could also do a "guess the number of jellybeans" or whatever contest, with each table submitting one number, and then rank them that way.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:13 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


Personally, I think a random draw is ideal in this situation, but this is coming from a very non-competitive person who also has the tendency to get very irritable when hungry.

That said, the first thing that came to mind was a "guess how many X are in the container" sort of thing (some skill involved, but enough guessiness to take away the sting if you're wrong)

Would you be able to pull off a quick rock-paper-scissors tournament with a rep from each table?
posted by btfreek at 12:13 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Spelling bee? Have a list of medium-hard words (like colonel, ominous), and go down the line. Get one wrong, get eliminated. At the final two-do it in sets: they each get a shot. If they both get it wrong, another set. Both get it right, another set.
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:13 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Food hierarchy sounds like a recipe* for hurt feelings, doubly so with "winners" and "losers." But if everyone is on board with this sort of plan, you can have a rock/ paper/ scissors competition with the usual "ranking tiers" - everyone plays at first, winners face winners, losers face losers, until a hierarchy is defined. Quick, not very physical, and a chance for laughter when there are people, like my wife and I, who have a long series of ties.

* sorry/ not sorry/ I'm a dad and I relish** in punnery
** see? :)
posted by filthy light thief at 12:14 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


You don't want an elimination game, you want a winner game. Team wins a round, send them off to dinner. Everybody else keeps playing, next team is chosen and sent to dinner - keeps the final teams busy while the other tables are in line. If it's an elimination, the losing team waits around feeling sorry for themselves twice - once while the game is being finished without them, and then again after the winning team has been determined and sent to dinner.
posted by aimedwander at 12:16 PM on March 10 [23 favorites]


I'd just draw table numbers out of a hat. Making a production out of it just means people will wait even longer to eat, and quite frankly, I think making people jump through hoops to be fed (after they have already taken the time to dress up, show up, listen to the ceremony, and sit through whatever else preceded the serving of food) is really a bit much. I can't think that any iteration of, "Sorry, you lose, less choice of dinner for you" after spending a few minutes guessing or walking around a table is going to play well, no matter how much of a sense of humor the guests have.

That's only if you insist on randomizing it. You could always just do "Tables farthest from the buffet go first, starting with #10" is just fine.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:22 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


obviously the first table chosen will have the widest, warmest array of dishes to choose from

Did you really mean to say this? --- The food is not going to be kept warm until they're all served? I hope this was just a weird typo induced by premarital cheer.

The only valid basis for your proposal is to maintain order during the lineup. A side benefit is that you'll enable all the guests at a given table to be served at the same time, instead of some guests sitting alone for a while.

So go with aimedwander's and Autumnheart's ideas. There's no reason for games of skill with sad losers and many bored onlookers.
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:31 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


I'd try to take the focus off of "you must be good at this game to get any food" and onto "here's an activity while we're waiting for dinner". People will bring plenty of food to your reception (and you're planning on providing a little extra main course just to be sure, right? and you're planning on holding back a few dishes to put on the table after the first things run out, right?) so if it hasn't occurred to your guests that there's any value in going first to dinner other than eating now rather than later, don't remind them!! If you introduce the activity under the premise that there's a valuable prize of the best food, and the last table is going to be missing out, that is fertilizer for over-competetiveness, resentment and hurt feelings. If you just play a game to kill time getting ready for dinner, eh, fine. Because you're introducing it, you can influence the mood.
posted by aimedwander at 12:32 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Did you really mean to say this? --- You're not providing enough of each dish for everybody and it's not going to be kept warm until they're all served? I hope this was just a weird typo induced by premarital cheer.

It's a potluck.
posted by donajo at 12:34 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


I would feel pretty rotten if someone got hurt, or ended up eating a crappy meal...

If you don't want people to end up eating a crappy meal, take control of and responsibility for the food. If you must make it a competition for a decent meal, though, just draw numbers from a hat.
posted by Dolley at 12:47 PM on March 10 [6 favorites]


"You don't want an elimination game, you want a winner game. Team wins a round, send them off to dinner. Everybody else keeps playing, next team is chosen and sent to dinner - keeps the final teams busy while the other tables are in line."

This, plus a prize for the last table (i.e., the "loser") or the last three tables, depending on how many people we're talking about. Depending on the crowd could be a nice bottle of wine for the table, or a tray of brownies, or insanely good cheddar biscuits, or little gift bags of chocolates ... you "lost" the buffet competition but you got a special nice food treat.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:21 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Can you draw straws or some similar variation on that idea? Maybe pick funny items out of a hat, and each item has a different number on it. I'm envisioning a rubber ducky with a number written on the side, for example.
posted by belau at 3:50 PM on March 10


First answer had it. Heads or tails. It's fast and you can play another round to see who goes next.
posted by Knowyournuts at 4:44 PM on March 10


Whatever you do, I would strongly suggest allowing vegetarians, gluten free folks, and anyone else with dietary restrictions go first. Especially for the GF folks, buffet tables can be a nightmare for cross contamination. And for folks with any other restrictions, it would really suck to go through the line last and discover you literally cannot eat any of the things that are left.

Aside from that, I think drawing attention to some people getting a worse meal is really not the way to go. If you are doing formal seating assignments, you can do something like "starting with tables furthest from the bride and groom." If you're doing "everyone sit where they want" (which I think is most common at potluck-style weddings), then just let people line up and get food as they will, and then sit wherever they end up with that food. I think any of this will go over better than making people compete for the best meal (!!).
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:11 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I realize my life experience is a bit random, but I had food withheld from me abusively as a child and the idea of playing a game for food has been in my mind since you posted. My reaction is mine to manage, but I would probably end up having a bad time at your wedding after this kind of thing. I have no problem waiting for food, but having it framed as direct competition would upset me. Especially after cooking for your wedding. I'd also then be aware of which dishes were "winning" and which were "losing" and still around for the last tables, so there would be a third sense of losing (losing the game, losing the chance to get the warm dishes, my dish losing.)

I would really avoid framing feeding your guests this way.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:51 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]


I was just at a potluck wedding, and what they did was number all the tables ahead of time. There was open seating, so people just sat down wherever. When they announced your table number, you got to go up and get your food. People didn't seem to mind much, although I think it would have been better if they'd called the table numbers in random order rather than numerical.
The tables were covered with paper and they put out crayons so people would be entertained while waiting, and they also had some people bring appetizers which were fair game the whole time if you were super hungry.
It was one of the most fun weddings I've ever been to!
posted by exceptinsects at 12:48 PM on March 15


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