How to Host a Mother & Daughter Bunco Party
School is officially out for winter break today and my daughter and I are celebrating by hosting our 3rd annual Holiday Bunco Party tonight! When my daughter entered middle school a few years ago, we started a tradition of hosting a mother and daughter holiday Bunco game. I had already been playing Bunco monthly with a group of friends since my daughter was in kindergarten. She often asked of she could play too. I thought a holiday Bunco game would be the perfect opportunity to meet her new friends and their moms, catch up with the girls and moms we had befriended in elementary school, and offer a fun alternative to a traditional gift exchange. I though I would share how we go about hosting this party every December in case you would like to start a party of your own. I know it is late in the season to plan a holiday Bunco party yourself, but you might consider filing this idea away for next year or hosting a Valentine’s or Mother’s Day themed mother and daughter Bunco party.
Pick A Theme
We settled upon a “Favorite Things” theme inspired by the lyric “brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favorite things” from the holiday classic movie The Sound of Music. We asked each guest to bring a wrapped gift containing one of their favorite things that they are able to purchase for $15 or less. We provide a few of our own favorite things as prizes for:
- Highest Points
- Lowest Points
- Most Buncos
- Most Mini Buncos
We also asked our guest to wear a pair of holiday pajamas or cozy lounge wear. A couple other ideas would be ugly sweaters or festive attire.
Provide Food & Drinks
Since bunco is a game where you change seats often, I find it works best to serve a mix of savory and sweet snacks that are easy to munch on while visiting each table. I usually check out what seasonal goodies Trader Joe’s has on hand a couple days before the party. Here are the snacks I picked up for our party tonight:
- petits fours (decorated like presents)
- peppermint bark popcorn
- mini gingerbread men
- gummy candy in holiday shapes
- pumpkin cranberry crisps with triple crème brie and slices apples
We choose two signature beverages for mothers and daughters to enjoy. This year we will have Peppermint Chocolate Martinis for the moms and a Hot Cocoa bar for the the daughters.
Hot Cocoa Bar
- Hot Cocoa
- Whipped Cream
- Mini Marshmallows
- Pepermint stir sticks
- Chocolate hazelnut rolled wafers
Tip: I prepare the hot cocoa in advance and place it in this airpot. The girls are able to serve themselves and add any toppings for their choosing.
Teach Your Guests How to Play
Every Bunco group has their own unique set of rules. Feel free to adapt the game to your groups preferences.
- Score Sheets (1 score sheet per person)
- Dice (3 dice per table)
- Pens (1 per person)
Bunco is played by rolling dice, keeping score and moving from table to table. Four players sit at each table. There are six rounds per set of play. Each set is made up of a round of 1-6. We typically play two sets.
The bell always located on the Head Table (which is determined by the hostess). When everyone is ready to play the bell is rung to signal the beginning of a round. All tables roll at the same time. You are always partners with the person sitting across from you.
Play is accomplished using all three dice at the same time. A player at each table begins rolling the dice. During round 1, the goal is to roll ones (round 2 – roll twos, etc.).
SCORING: Each person keeps track of their own points as well as their partners. Each time a player rolls the correct number for the round, her team gets one point. When a player stops rolling the number of the round (round 1 – ones, round 2 – twos, etc.), the dice goes clockwise to the next player. A round is over when one of the teams at the head table has acquired 21 points
Buncos: A Bunco is when any player rolls all 3 dice in the number of that round (rolling 3 1’s in round 1, etc.). Each time a player rolls a Bunco, they calls out “BUNCO” and choose a gift. The player who rolled a Bunco marks a tally on her Bunco Score Sheet under “Buncos”. Each player must keep track of the number of Buncos she rolls.
Buncos are worth 21 points, if at the Head Table the round is over when a Bunco is rolled.
Mini BUNCO: Each time a player rolls three of any number other than that of the round they’re playing they get a Mini BUNCO. The player marks her BUNCO Score Sheet in the blank area below BUNCOs. Each player must keep track of the number of Mini BUNCOs she rolls. Mini BUNCOs are worth 5 points. Players choose a gift whenever a Mini BUNCO is rolled.
Once all of the wrapped gifts have been chosen, pause the game to unwrap presents. When the game resumes, players can “steal” a gift from another player whenever they roll a Bunco or Mini Bunco. There is no limit on how many times you can steal a gift.
The first team at the Head Table to reach a score of 21 wins the round and the bell is rung signaling the end of the round. The other two tables may have higher scores (depending on the rolling).
When the bell is rung, all playing ceases and the winning team adds up their points from that round.
Bunco is played by individuals, not teams, so partners change after each round. The winning teams move to a new table, rotating in one direction. For example, the Head Table winners move to Table 2, Table 2 winners move to Table 3, and Table 3 winners move to the Head Table.
The losing teams from each table stay at that table. However, one person from each losing team remaining at the table will change seats so that new teams are formed for the next round.
GHOSTS: A ghost is used if an individual cannot attend and could not find a substitute to make even tables of four. The player with the ghost for a partner rolls for the ghost and collects points for their team including BUNCOS and Mini BUNCOS
Play continues through rounds 1-6, repeating for a total of 2 sets. At the end of the 2nd set all players calculate their scores and prizes are awarded.
Each player that has collected a gift(s) for rolling a Bunco or Mini Bunco decides which gift to keep and returns any additional gifts the the gift collection spot. Players that do not have a gift, roll off. The highest roller has first pick of gifts returned to the collection spot and so on… Next, players add up their total points, BUNCOs, and Mini BUNCOs then marks them on their BUNCO Score Sheets. The Hostess calls out for winners to the decided-upon winning categories. Players can only win in one prize category. Any ties in scores will result in a roll off, highest number wins with the exception of the Big Loser; in that case, the lowest number wins.
Interested in hosting a Mother & Daughter Bunco Party to celebrate Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day? I will post more Bunco printables in the new year. Happy Holidays Friends!