A New Year's cocktail with a pair of dice as ice cubes

New Year’s Bunco party ideas (including resolutions, songs, food, and more)

Recently a friend in our Bunco Group sent us a message:

We’ve invited family from a different country over for the holidays and they’re celebrating New Year’s Eve in America this year, too. We’re looking for a great game to play and thought our own private Bunco party would be fun. But how can we add a little more interest to the night? We’re worried they might think it’s boring.

Great questions and a great idea! Bunco is the sort of thing that’s great for parties because it keeps people moving, gives plenty of time for people to much on snacks, enjoy a nice drink, and it’s simple to learn without a lot of extra pieces to contend with (dice, tables, pencils, and these scoresheets are it). But, compared to a lot of buzzy digital distractions, its simplicity can be construed as dullness. So we’ve got some ideas to help you ring in the new year with a lively bit of party planning.

Setup a great Bunco playlist

Music can change any party or evening from ordinary to raucous, so get the tunes right with these dice-(or luck) related songs you can add to your Spotify or Apple Music playlist for the evening:

  1. “Tumbling Dice” by The Rolling Stones
  2. "The Jack" by AC/DC
  3. "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" by Bob Seger
  4. "Luck Be a Lady" by Frank Sinatra
  5. "Roll of the Dice" by Bruce Springsteen
  6. "House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals
  7. "Viva Las Vegas" by Elvis Presley
  8. "Desperado" by Eagles
  9. "Losing Hand" by Ray Charles
  10. "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" by Frank Sinatra
  11. "Bad Luck and Trouble" by Johnny Winter
  12. "Gambler's Blues" by B.B. King
  13. "A Good Run of Bad Luck" by Clint Black
  14. "Roll the Bones" by Rush
  15. "Poker" by Electric Light Orchestra
  16. "Little Game" by Benny
  17. "Rollin' the Dice" by Bruce Hornsby
  18. "Dice" by Finley Quaye
  19. "Life's a Gamble" by Eve 6
  20. "Gamble Everything for Love" by Ben Lee
  21. "Gambler" by Madonna
  22. "Roll the Dice" by Charles Bukowski and Tom Waits

Have the right drinks to keep people rolling

This doesn’t have to get super fancy, but organize a well-stocked bar and you’ll keep people playing all night. Try some of these adult drinks to help celebrate:

  1. Snake Eyes Shooter (White Rum, Blue Curacao, Pineapple Juice)
  2. Lucky 7 Seven and Seven (Seagram's 7 Crown Whiskey, 7 Up)
  3. Rolling Dice Cocktail (Gin, Elderflower Liqueur, Fresh Lime Juice, Simple Syrup)
  4. Jackpot Punch (Vodka, Cranberry Juice, Orange Juice, Champagne)
  5. Gamble on Love Mojito (White Rum, Mint Leaves, Lime Juice, Simple Syrup, Soda Water)
  6. High Roller Highball (Bourbon, Ginger Ale, Angostura Bitters, Orange Twist)
  7. Lady Luck Lemon Drop (Vodka, Triple Sec, Fresh Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup)
  8. Dicey Delight (Midori, Pineapple Juice, Coconut Rum)
  9. High-Stakes Highball (Scotch Whisky, Ginger Beer, Lime Wedge)
  10. Double Down Daiquiri (White Rum, Lime Juice, Simple Syrup)
And of course some champagne for when the clock counts down to midnight. Hopefully your guests won’t be so inebriated by then that they can’t celebrate the new year properly.

Serve up the right food and snacks - but remember to keep things clean

Unlike cards where the individual cards don’t ordinarily pass en masse between players, Bunco requires people to handle the same set of dice all night. That’s a lot of opportunity for groups to spread germs and viruses, so keep the hand sanitizer handy at every table.

And when it comes to the food and snacks, make sure you’ve got options that won’t hinder gameplay. BBQ wings are great, but messy. So try these ideas:

  1. Cheese and Charcuterie Board:
    • Assorted cheeses (cheddar, brie, gouda)
    • Cured meats (salami, prosciutto)
    • Crackers and bread
    • Nuts and dried fruits
  2. Guacamole and Salsa with Tortilla Chips:
    • Homemade guacamole
    • Salsa (mild and hot)
    • Tortilla chips
  3. Stuffed Jalapeños:
    • Jalapeño peppers stuffed with cream cheese or cheddar, wrapped in bacon
  4. Mini Sliders:
    • Small burger sliders with various toppings
    • Mini buns or slider rolls
  5. Vegetable Platter with Dip:
    • Assorted fresh vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes)
    • Hummus or ranch dip
  6. Spinach and Artichoke Dip:
    • Creamy dip with spinach, artichokes, and cheese
    • Tortilla chips or sliced baguette for dipping
  7. Deviled Eggs:
    • Halved hard-boiled eggs filled with a seasoned yolk mixture
  8. Buffalo Chicken Wings:
    • Crispy chicken wings with buffalo sauce
    • Blue cheese or ranch dressing for dipping
  9. Caprese Skewers:
    • Cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls, and fresh basil on toothpicks
    • Drizzled with balsamic glaze
  10. Bruschetta:
    • Diced tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and balsamic on toasted baguette slices
  11. Quesadillas:
    • Mini quesadillas with cheese, chicken, and vegetables
    • Salsa and sour cream for dipping
  12. Pigs in a Blanket:
    • Mini sausages wrapped in crescent roll dough
    • Mustard or ketchup for dipping
  13. Loaded Nachos or Tacos:
    • Tortilla chips topped with melted cheese, black beans, guacamole, sour cream, and salsa
  14. Mozzarella Sticks:
    • Breaded and fried mozzarella sticks
    • Marinara sauce for dipping
  15. Popcorn Bar:
    • Popcorn with various seasonings (cheese, caramel, spicy)
    • Mix-ins like M&M's, pretzels, and nuts
  16. Ice Cream Bar:
    • Who says you can’t have ice cream in January? Set up all sorts of topping ideas and little bowls and spoons, or ice cream cones.

These all travel well to the table, let people serve themselves so the host can play, and give guests the opportunity to customize their dessert, snacks, or dinner. Plus, a person like your Bunco friends from out of the country can experience a new recipe. Have people share in the cost and setup by making it pot-luck style.

Compete for some really good Bunco prizes like these ideas

Prizes at a lot of game nights are often uninspired and unexciting. Even more interesting prize ideas like Bluetooth speakers, soaps, and outdoor or fitness gear are nice. But they’re also frequently things people already have. So consider some more interesting and unique options, like these Bunco party prize ideas:

  1. Board Games or Puzzle Sets: High-quality or special edition board games or intricate puzzles.
  2. Gift Cards: Choose popular retailers, restaurants, or online platforms.
  3. Movie Night Basket: Include a selection of Blu-rays or a streaming service gift card, popcorn, and candy.
  4. Customized Game Night Trophy: A trophy or medal that can be passed to the winner each game night. It’s a great way to get together all year long.
  5. Gourmet Food Basket: Specialty chocolates, cheeses, and snacks.
  6. Book Bundle: A set of best-selling novels or books in a specific genre.
  7. Spa or Self-Care Package: Bath bombs, scented candles, and relaxation items.
  8. Cooking or Baking Kit: High-quality kitchen utensils, spices, or unique ingredients.
  9. Escape Room Experience: Gift certificates for a local escape room adventure.
  10. Concert or Event Tickets: Tickets to a live performance or sports event.
  11. Subscription Box: Choose a subscription box that aligns with the winner's interests (e.g., gaming, snacks, books).
  12. Art Supplies: Sketchbooks, high-quality pencils, or paints for the creative winner.
  13. Gaming Accessories: High-quality gaming mouse, keyboard, or headset (great if you have kids or teens playing with you).
  14. Customized Merchandise: Personalized mugs, T-shirts, or custom artwork.
  15. Language Learning Kit: Apps, books, or tools for learning a new language.
  16. Plant or Garden Kit: Potted plants, gardening tools, or seeds.
Sometimes the best ideas are just cash. Have everyone put money in the bounty and a winner-take-all prize is easy to do. We’re a big fan of having people bring specific prizes organized by the host, then placing them all in a big bounty so as people win each round along the way, the winners can pull from the best prizes. You can also reserve some higher-value items for the ultimate winner of the evening.

Or, for an added twist, do a reverse prize where losers have to do some kind of “punishment,” like putting away Christmas decorations the next day!

Set some New Year’s resolutions along the way

As the night wears on it’s easy to forget a New Year’s Eve Bunco night can have a little extra meaning by asking people to cite resolutions or think about what they want to accomplish this year. Have people write down goals and the host can collect them.

Then, as the year wears on and you host a regular Bunco night in January, April, June, July, or August or anytime, you can help hold people accountable to what they said they were going to do. It’s also a great excuse to bring people together for a Bunco party or to play other games (Mexican Train Dominoes is fun!).

Play Bunco online, anytime, at playbunco.com

You can have your own Bunco Party anytime you like by playing online. Give yourself a piece of dessert, a relaxing drink, and practice your technique before your next Bunco party.