For those of you who don’t know, my husband is turning 30 on Monday, and I’m throwing him a bourbon-themed shin-dig that week to celebrate. Check out the invites if you missed them. This party’s going to have everything an aging Southern boy could want: a bourbon bar, three kinds of bourbon pie, a great venue (a hip pie shop in Chicago), veggie and beef jerkey, biscuits, beer, and yes, a butter bar. I can’t wait for this party and to share pictures with you all!
I spent Memorial Day weekend designing and printing a custom, whiskey-themed version of one of my husband’s and my favorite party card games. No, we’re not talking about Apples to Apples – we’re talking about PIT!!! The weirdest and somehow most awesome card game in the universe. We first heard about in the 1999 TV show Freaks and Geeks. Sorry for those of you who aren’t TV fanatics out there, please bear with me. There was a family game night episode of the show (read episode highlights here or here) in which the main characters’ parents try to get their kids excited about playing Pit, and they don’t totally go for it right away. Here’s why…
The concept behind Pit, a game that’s over 100 years old, is that you and your friends are trading stocks, and you have to “corner the market” on a specific commodity by trading equal numbers of cards with fellow players. The first person to corner the market and ring a bell on the center of the table wins the point value listed on the commodity’s card. The higher value the commodity, the more points it’s worth. The person with the most points wins in the end. Traditionally, the commodities traded have been grains, but more recent editions of the games feature precious metals.
So when you describe this game in words, it doesn’t sound like the most fun you’ve ever had at a party, right? The kids on Freaks and Geeks are totally with you. Really, though. Trust me. This game is the best. You can get it used online for really cheap if you’re curious enough to try it out.
To make a version of the game in which you’re trading something a little funner than grains or gold, it’s easy. These directions can be applied to customizing other favorite games like Uno or Skip-Bo.
graphic design software or better drawing skills than I possess
card stock/heavy paper
scissors and/or paper cutter
accessories your game requires (in my case, a bell)
Directions Tips/Pointers for creating your own game
The standard size for playing cards is 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. I created a new project file in my software with that size to create my cards.
If you’re not a trained artist or graphic designer, don’t be afraid to draw your ideas out ahead of time. I crudely drew what I wanted my cards to look like ahead of time, and that helped save a lot of hair-pulling when I designed the cards.
Do your research! I spent a chunk of time making sure I knew for sure how many cards of each type were needed to create my take on Pit. I needed 9 cards each of eight different types of whiskey, and I made sure to sit down with my husband, the birthday boy, to get his preferences for the kinds of whiskey he wanted featured on his cards. It turns out, he had very specific ideas on the subject – good thing I checked!
Consider using a template. Since my game required printing two-sided, I had to carefully line up my card fronts and backs to avoid chopping my designs up.
You can get an in-home laminator for as low as $20. I cut my cards out of just the paper first, and I will soon laminate them. I didn’t want my pictures to end up so shiny you wouldn’t be able to see them, but since this game will be played at a food and booze-centric event, I think laminating seems like an obvious next step.
My whiskey take on Pit!
Since all of the commodities featured in this game and the game concept and rules are all copyrighted, I can’t make Whiskey Pit available for download. Instead, I opted to share my idea, and I encourage you all to try to make themed games of your own. Husband and I had a BLAST conceptualizing this game for his party.