The Bunco Babes

September 2, 2010 by Amy Clark

Two years ago, I connected with an amazing bunch of girls to form a “Bunco Babes” group that has become one of my favorite get-togethers of my adult life.

It combines a fabulous group of women, a themed get-together, delicious food and lots of laughter! It’s been an escape that I look forward to each month. Our group has been rolling the dice for years now and every year we add more fun girls and make the most of this day together. Bunco, for me, is one of life’s delicious little pleasures!

The Premise For Playing Is Simple

It’s a complete game of chance. Tables of four are set up and you can have as many tables as you have players in your group. Each round matches a specific number you try to roll on the dice.

The first round is ones, the second round is twos, the third round is threes, etc. Players receive one point for each die matching the target number. If a player gets three-of-a-kind of the target number (a “Bunco”), she gets 21 points.

The round stops when a player at a head table obtains 21 points. Whoever wins the most rounds is the overall winner and receives a prize. It sounds more complex than it is, I promise you!

In our league, the cost is $5 to play plus a booby prize to be given to the person with the most losses. I eat more than $5 in food and sometimes I win back my $5 (or more) at the end of the game. So for an entire evening of great fun and good food, it’s totally worth it.

Each month, the hostess chooses the party theme. Our group has had many different themes, each one more fun than the last! Here are some of the more memorable ones.

The Wedding Party

For this party, we were asked to wear our wedding dresses or favorite bridesmaid dress. Considering how much we pay for these dresses, any opportunity you have to wear it more than once seems like a great idea! I borrowed a dress from a girlfriend who’s been in her fair share of weddings. My husband got a big kick out of me dressing like a bridesmaid in the dead of winter, complete with warm socks and snow boots. Considering the freezing Indiana temperatures, I wasn’t about to brave it in a sexy pair of strappy shoes!

Our hostess went all-out and presented a Polish Wedding Buffet, complete with a wedding cake with Barbie-and-Ken topper. The food included lots of yummy appetizers, homemade Polish sausage, herb-buttered noodles, green beans and mashed potatoes with gravy.

We stuffed ourselves silly and then played Bunco by the light of the hostess’s Unity wedding candles. The booby prizes were a hoot as many of us graciously passed on our “white elephant” wedding gifts from our own weddings. Everyone went home with a wedding favor of chocolates wrapped in netting.

Chari-Tea Bunco

For one of the games I hosted, I asked my guests to bring monetary and/or food donations to support our local St. Joseph County Food Bank. Everyone agreed that the winnings would be given to the food bank instead of divided among us. Naturally, I used a tea party theme for my “chari-tea” event. I had a nice selection of teas, and served food on small plates that would be easy to handle while playing. I got a huge croissant sandwich tray with a variety of fillings and cut these sandwiches in half, added colored toothpicks and turned them into finger food.
For side dishes, I made a delicious pesto pasta salad and two huge vegetable trays and turned a variety of fruit into fruit kabobs. The kabobs were placed in a pretty wine bucket for everyone to grab. For dessert, I served mini crème puffs on fancy cake platters with coffee.

Retro Housewife Night

I was so excited about my retro housewife theme. The best part about it was displaying my vintage apron collection and making all my friends wear aprons too! For me, the downfall with entertaining at home is that our place is a small space. So I have to be a little more purposeful with clearing the home of clutter and finding more inventive ways to display and share all our good food.
I cleared the shoes and coats from our entryway and replaced them with a handful of my favorite aprons. A couple of the girls had said that they didn’t have an apron (gasp!) so I had them borrow one of mine as they walked in. It also helped to tie in the theme!

We had a delicious retro supper prepared. I made my favorite Sloppy Joe recipe accompanied by mini Kaiser rolls to make it easier to eat while we played. These were served with tater tots and Rice Krispie treats for dessert. I prepared everything ahead of time and just had to throw the tater tots in the oven before guests arrived.

I love to serve foods on cake stands and the covered ones are great for keeping bread from drying out (and create a nice display). If you’re short on space, elevating the food can make more room for lower dishes to rest. If you don’t have cake stands, you can use an inverted bowl and rest a plate on top to create a cute cake stand.

Hunt around the thrift stores for elegant china plates and cups or bowls you can use to create one-of-a-kind cake stands. What retro housewife would ever serve her guests dinner on paper plates? I kept my party green and wallet-friendly by using cloth napkins and my favorite white dishes.

With seven guests, I only needed to do one quick load of dishes to get everything cleaned.

Yummy Sloppy Joes (adapted from Recipezaar)

1 lb. ground beef
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon mustard
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

In a large skillet, brown beef with onions; drain beef and return to skillet. Mix the remaining ingredients together and add to beef and onions. Cook 1 hour over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Serve on warm buns or rolls. Depending on costs at your grocers, you can make these for about $.50 per serving.
Do you play a game or do an activity regularly with friends? What are some low-cost ways you socialize?

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Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark has been the driving force behind MomAdvice since 2004. In addition to running a successful community for women and running after her two kids, she has appeared on The Early Show, and in Parents magazine, Redbook, Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, MSN Money and The New York Times.