Making Get-Togethers Enjoyable yet Beneficial
WHAT a challenge this presents to persons who entertain guests! No doubt you have faced it. How did you meet it? You probably found that the refreshments were not much of a problem. But what about the matter of keeping your guests entertained, yes, seeing that everybody had a good time? What did you do to make your get-togethers enjoyable and interesting? Were they beneficial to your guests?
It is good to remember that when you arrange to entertain guests you take on the responsibility for their diversion during the time they are with you. The persons you invite come to relax and spend some hours in refreshing fellowship with you and your other guests. They will look to you for direction. Hosts who have some type of program in mind usually succeed in delighting and entertaining their invited friends in a beneficial way.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Some hosts feel that purchasing some ready-made game will help to keep their guests entertained. It may and it may not. Also, there are pitfalls. If a person is not selective, he might inadvertently obtain a game that may be detrimental rather than beneficial to his friends, much to his regret.
For example, consider this description of a game that was advertised in a brochure listing various simulation games: “The best element of the game is the diplomatic interplay between the players as they try to come out on top. This is usually accomplished by double-dealing, trickery, fraud, lies and all the other things that make life worth living.” Would your guests be benefited playing this game?
Looking over the components and instructions of another game on the market today, one finds that its players “can make book, engage in extortion, be a loan shark, or hijack goods without any fear of punishment for these illegal acts.” The cards indulge the participants in mugging, fixing races, liquor hijacking and extortion. And there are games that are designed to pander to prurient interests.
Of course, some will contend that these are just harmless games, that they are all in fun. But there are those who take a very dim view of this kind of entertainment. They strongly object to these games because they stimulate unwholesome desires. What do you think?
In view of the great variety of games available today, many of which can relax and benefit guests, one can be selective. However, one should not feel that one has to purchase games in order to entertain friends. With a little ingenuity, you can make up games that are most entertaining and interesting to all involved. But as in the case of ready-made games, those you invent may have pitfalls too. Games that stimulate a spirit of competition may interest some but can cause discomfort to those who do not think as quickly or remember as well as others. No one enjoys playing a game in which he keeps losing or failing to get the right answer. Rather than being entertained he most likely will be embarrassed or irritated. Wise hosts avoid this. They want all their guests to enjoy themselves.
Furthermore, some people get so carried away in a competitive game that they lose sight of what it is—just a game. They take it too seriously. Illustrating this is the experience one couple had with a new couple that they had befriended. When they went to play bridge with them, they were shocked to see how seriously their newfound friends took the game. The wife reported that “they nearly came to blows with each other! All evening long they were making sarcastic remarks to each other.” And the second time they played together it was even worse. Needless to say, this couple did not enjoy these get-togethers.
Sad to say, some friendships have been severely strained over a game. A personal friend of the late Helena Rubinstein, the cosmetician, noted that she and Somerset Maugham, the author, “once fell to hating each other over a bridge game when he called her over-impulsive and she labeled him mean.” So balance and discernment are needed in connection with what one uses as a means of entertainment.
Upbuilding conversation is surely beneficial at social gatherings. Hearing the life experiences of others broadens one’s viewpoint. It enhances appreciation of other people and helps to stimulate empathy. However, with a large number of guests, conversation is usually not enough for an entire evening. Invariably, they will form groups and talk about different things while others may sit and politely wait for something to happen or for the time to leave. But if one has something organized to hold the attention of all in an engaging way, this pitfall of all too many gatherings can also be avoided.
Games Testing Bible Knowledge Upbuild
Christian witnesses of Jehovah know that the Holy Bible has a most wholesome and beneficial influence on the lives of people. Games built around it are fascinating as well as educational. But here again one has to consider one’s guests and their abilities. To play complicated Bible games with persons who are just starting to study God’s Word could make them feel out of place, ignorant and may even discourage them. If youngsters are in the gathering, their limitations should also be taken into consideration in the games that are organized.
One game that some Witnesses and their friends enjoy involves discussing outstanding Bible characters. After one person selects the name of a Bible figure, then each guest is given opportunity to tell one thing he knows about the person. Any interesting biographical detail can be mentioned: birthplace, relatives, friends, experiences, faithfulness or unfaithfulness. After a number of details have been highlighted by the group, the person who selected the name asks how this individual’s record in the Bible benefits us today. Each one present may now be given opportunity to relate one point showing how this Bible person’s life illuminates principles of conduct, has prophetic significance, and so forth. After this, a second person selects a Bible name and the same procedure is followed.
Groups that are traveling can also enjoy this game. It is not competitive. Everyone benefits by it, for it imparts knowledge and stimulates thinking ability. And it develops understanding by showing the interrelationship of things.
Naming Bible characters in alphabetical order is another engaging game. As one person calls out the letters, each one in order answers with a Bible name that begins with that letter: A, Aaron, B, Bathsheba, C, Cain, D, David, E, Elijah, and so forth. A different version is to call out one letter and have each person name a Bible character beginning with the same letter: A, Abel, Asa, Amasa, Absalom, Aaron, and so forth; B, Barak, Benjamin, Bartholomew, Ben-hadad, Baasha, and so forth.
Another thought-provoking game is having someone announce that he is thinking of a Bible character whose name begins with J. Then the others ask him probing questions for clues to identify whom he is thinking about. A variation of this is to have the individual being questioned identify the person the questioner has in mind. For example, if he is asked if the one he is thinking of had ten brothers who were jealous of him, he replies, “No, it is not Joseph.” If it is Joseph or if he fails to identify the questioner’s Bible character, then the questioner takes his place and calls out the first letter of a name he is thinking of. The one who lost his place need not tell who he had in mind. He may wish to use the name again, later.
Bible maps can be used in an interesting geographical game. The participants should each have a book open to the map that will be used. One person will describe a certain event. Who can name the place where it happened and find it on the map? Each one can take a turn in selecting an event, but, of course, he ought to know where it took place.
Other Beneficial and Enjoyable Games
Another game that is most enjoyable and beneficial to young and old teaches the spelling of Bible names. Each one needs a pencil and paper. The first person declares that the name he is thinking of has seven letters. Each one now draws seven blanks on his paper: — — — — — — —. Then the questions begin. Does your name have an E in it? (The name he chose is Jezebel. It has three E’s in it, but he does not say this when he answers this question.) “Yes,” he replies, “it is in the fourth blank.” Everyone writes that letter down in the proper blank. As the letters get filled in, someone may say that he knows who it is. If it is not his turn he is not allowed to give his answer. He must wait until his turn. The one who figures out the name may be given the privilege of selecting the next name. Or you may simply prefer to give each one present the opportunity to select a name, regardless of who may guess the answer.
This game can also be played with the names of geographical places mentioned in the Bible as well as other Bible words. As the above example shows, if a person has chosen a name or another word that has two or three of the same letters in it, he can make the game more challenging if he reveals those that appear in the middle of the name first or those places where it would be hard to guess the answer.
Bible reading is also very enjoyable and beneficial to guests. To make it interesting, assign each person to read the spoken dialogue or words of a certain character in a Bible account. The number of persons used depends on how many characters are in the account. Also someone is needed to read the narrative portions. Another way is to assign each one to read a number of verses or paragraphs, and then invite the group to comment on the value of the information. Care must be exercised not to embarrass those who are poor readers in the group.
Charades is another game that taxes the ingenuity of a group. Pantomiming certain actions that identify Bible characters is instructive and amusing. Others present may guess who the character is and what he is doing. Of course, some may be bashful and might feel out of place acting something out before a group. None should feel compelled.
Balance in these matters is vital. Too much of a good thing can soon wear out its welcome. An alert and discerning host quickly senses when a certain entertainment is starting to lose its interest-holding power. And he discreetly changes to something else, knowing that variety delights.
On occasion relatives and friends who are not Witnesses are present at the gatherings of Witnesses and they observe the proceedings. If all is upbuilding, it can make a fine impression, as an experience in Oregon shows. A few years ago, a Baptist couple attended a gathering where a number of Witnesses began playing a Bible game. The wife, observing it, could see that she did not know as much of the Bible as she thought she did. She said to her husband that she had studied the Bible for years and, compared with the Witnesses, she knew nothing. So impressed were they that after the gathering was over she and her husband asked the Witnesses to conduct a home Bible study with them.
Yes, upbuilding entertainment can be enjoyable and be a blessing to all. You will find that the get-togethers you arrange will be something your friends will thoroughly enjoy if you plan to do things that entertain them in a beneficial way.