Help me come up with ideas for a non-awkward social event for a group of 150-200 students!
March 8, 2010 10:11 AM   Subscribe

I work at a law school and one of my responsibilities is to run a student host program that matches up the international graduate students in my department's degree program with American J.D. student hosts (a sort of law school big brother/big sister program). I am trying to plan an event for the program participants (150-200 people) and am having issues coming up with something that is fun, relatively inexpensive, and will stimulate social interaction between the students.

In the past I've tried movie nights but they haven't turned out very well (poor attendance, lack of social interaction between students, surprisingly expensive). Does anyone with experience planning social events for large groups of students have any ideas or helpful suggestions? My budget is between $500 and $1000, but the cheaper the better!
posted by HeKilledKennedy to Education (10 answers total)
When I was in college, if one wanted people to show up, one offered ice cream. "Make Your Own Sundae" was a guaranteed way to increase turnout.

When I was in law school, if one wanted people to show up, one offered beer.

Just saying.
posted by ambrosia at 10:16 AM on March 8, 2010

I participated in a scavenger hunt kind of game with a pretty large crowd. Our clues were written as short poems or riddles or limericks, and then we had to find certain locations in a 3 or 4 block square area. This was in a state capital with lots of statues and memorials and government buildings and historical markers. You could do something similar with points of interest on campus. We played the game in any size team we wanted, with whoever we felt like hanging around with for an afternoon. You could obviously create assigned teams based on whatever criteria you chose.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 10:19 AM on March 8, 2010

I've always had great luck with a lecture on a cool topic by a semi-well known speaker, followed by a reception with free beer. Pick the professor in your program who is most beloved and ask her/him to pick a topic that is fun and interesting and a bit outside the scope of what would be taught in classes. Have the lecture, then Q&A, then free beer and light snacks. In fact, make the beer and snacks available before and during the lecture too, so that people will be in a lighthearted mood throughout the event. The lecture will draw a lot of people in to hear the cool person talk about the fun topic, and the beer will relax everyone. They'll also have a common topic to discuss as they meet new people after the lecture.

I've run dozens of these types of events (as well as a lot of other types that have done less well), so MeMail me if you want more tips or have questions.
posted by decathecting at 10:19 AM on March 8, 2010

Beer is good. I doubt I would have done a scavenger hunt or anything similar. Free food during lunch tended to bring crowds, especially if it wasn't the standard pizza fare.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:40 AM on March 8, 2010

Nthing food. Also maybe a presentation on different aspects of law in both the American and international cultures that your students are from. Then some kind of activity to get people up and socializing and working together to solve some sort of problem (ie: scavenger hunt, Jeopardy type questions, charades relating to the law...I'm sure you can find better games to play, there's a couple of books on the topic of team building games at Barnes & Noble).
posted by MsKim at 10:50 AM on March 8, 2010

Board games and beer. Have people bring their own games, and maybe buy/borrow a Wii to have a bowling tournament.
posted by honeybee413 at 10:54 AM on March 8, 2010

honeybee's comment made me think of something: in law school you can bet I would rearrange my schedule to show up for beer and rock band.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:04 AM on March 8, 2010

While food might run expensive, could you do an international potluck? Ask the students to provide the food from their home countries (and regions of the US), and you provide the beer?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:46 AM on March 8, 2010

POTLUCK! Nthing potlucks. Throw in a talent show for added entertainment.

Throw in free drinks and it's a social event!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:52 AM on March 8, 2010

Beer or wine, food, and something interactive that provokes discussion in a way that movies rarely do. I saw board games mentioned above, but group art projects have also been successful for me in the past, as well as "wine tastings" with sheets to fill out about each wine (could be a beer tasting, alternately), ice skating in the afternoon, trivia nights, karaoke, talent shows, and other silly-seeming activities. This is with grad students in the humanities-- law students might be initially less down for silly stuff, but once you get 'em started, I guarantee they'll enjoy it.
posted by dizziest at 3:25 PM on March 8, 2010

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