Playing Match Maker
Guest blog post by Allie Marcom, longtime Best Buddies volunteer, lifelong champion for friends with IDD, and Chapter President at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
It’s the beginning of the school year and Best Buddies has started back once again (hooray)!! It’s time to create new friendships and plan a MATCH PARTY.
So, what is a match party? Well, if you ask me, it’s the best time of the year, considered second only to the holiday season. Match parties are when volunteers discover who they will be matched with for the school year; for some, this is the first time they may have met their buddy. This the start to an incredible, lifelong friendship and could be considered your most important (and fun) event of the year.
I have been involved in Best Buddies for nearly 10 years and have seen many different styles of match parties. In high school, we had a pumpkin carving match party. After school, all the peer buddies would gather and carve their buddies’ name into a pumpkin; then, during the party, each pumpkin would be gifted it to the buddy to find their match! During the pumpkin passing, we would have fall foods for students to enjoy and after everyone found their match, we’d play fall-themed games. It was a hit, and you can never go wrong with a good pumpkin!
Now that I am in college at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), we have a chapter of nearly 300 people and planning a match party can be difficult to coordinate with everyone’s schedules. Most recently, we partnered with a sorority on campus to plan our match party. The sorority hosted our chapter at their house. We had volunteers make pancakes for dinner and had everyone wear pajamas! Each peer buddy brought matching pajamas for them and their buddy! They found each other by the matching pants! We had so much fun, and it started our year off with a bang!
It is important that your match party keeps everyone entertained and having a great time! Allow plenty of “social time” so that people can talk and get to know each other. It is also critical that your first big party of the year is an age appropriate event. When I first started at UTK, we joked that our chapter tended to host events that were… boring, if I’m being honest. We dedicated ourselves to hosting events that everyone wanted to be a part of and that were appropriate for all of our participants. One step we took that really helped this come to fruition was pairing with Greek life and other organizations on campus. Partner organizations at our parties boost the liveliness of our events, and we now host some of the biggest and most inclusive events on campus! My advice to you is to be creative, and shoot for the stars when planning your match party!
Here are some ideas to get you brainstorming for an incredible Match Party this year:
- Pajama party
- Halloween costume party; buddy pairs can match or be dressed in a theme (think Mario and Luigi!)
- Hawaiian Luau
- Sports theme party
- Cornhole tournament with your buddy
- Movie night
- Match party carnival
- Create a string maze lead you to your buddy
- Have a peer buddy decorate a box and hide under the box for a fun reveal
There are endless options that you could choose for your match party. You can also check out Match Party Ideas on Pinterest for great event ideas and tips. The most important thing is to be creative and plan ahead. This will ensure that your match party is a success.
Don’t forget that your matches need to be plugged into your Best Buddies Online chapter roster by November 1st! So what are you planning to do for your Match Party? We want to hear all of your ideas and add them to our ever growing list of fun events to introduce a friend that could change your life! Share on IG @bestbuddiesuniversity or comment below.