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The BND Game

Target: "I want" "I must have" etc guessing
Age: 8 years old and up
Duration: 10 - 20 minutes
Class Size: Players 3-6
Energy Level: Low
Type: Co-operative Board Game
Equipment: Downloadable

Where do holidays come from? How big does an event have to be before it becomes a holiday? How many years does it have to run? How many people need to participate? I don't know, but if holidays are created then Buy Nothing Day is a holiday in the making. It began over 10 years ago as a response to the orgy of consumerism that seems to hit the US every Christmas. Now it is celebrated world wide.

PreparationGame Board

Download and print out the board and cards. The cards should be put onto thick card so that when they are placed face down the images cannot be seen through the paper.

You'll also need one dice and a Go-Shopping marker to play the game. The play-testing group used a coin.

(jump to get file)

Before Play

If using this game in a class it's probably a good idea to talk to the group and find out about their shopping habits. Perhaps do a survey. Where and when do they go shopping. What things do they buy? Perhaps make some kind of chart and put it on the wall?

To introduce the game tell the group that November 27th is a special Day. It is Buy Nothing Day. Tell the students that this is a No Shopping Game. Show them the board. Show them the path to the monster shop. Place the Go-Shopping marker on the large starting arrow. Tell the students they can win the game by not going shopping. The game is lost if the marker reaches the shop.

Place the dice on the number 1 square. Notice there is a separate track for the dice with numbers from 1-6 and a doorway.

There are 24 cards. Shuffle the cards and put 4 to one side. Avoid looking at these cards. Deal out the remaining 20 cards between the players. It doesn't matter if some players have extra cards. Cards should be kept secret. Each Player may look at his or her cards for a moment and then each player shuffles the cards and places them in a pile face down.

Method of Play

One player starts and makes an “I want...” statement. Eg “I want a car!” The other players secretly look at their top cards. If one player has the matching card they may give it to the first player (perhaps saying “Here you are!” or “Here, have mine!” etc). The card is then put to one side. If no one has the matching card. Move the dice one space towards the doorway. The player makes a different “I want…” statement. This process continues until either a matching card is found or the dice reaches the doorway.

If the dice reaches the doorway the unlucky player has “the shopping shakes!” Move the Go-Shopping marker 6 steps towards the Monster Shop. Otherwise notice the number the dice has reached and roll the dice. If the number rolled is equal or less then move the Go-Shopping marker that number of spaces. If the number is higher the players are safe and the marker may be left where it is. Some examples:

The dice is on 3. Roll 2: move the marker 2 spaces.
The dice is on 4. Roll 4: move the marker 4 spaces.
The dice is on 5. Roll 6: don't move the marker! (6 is higher than 5)

After rolling the dice return it to the number 1 space and start again with the next player making I want statements. The game is won when every player has given away all of his or her cards. The game is lost if the Go-Shopping marker reaches the shop.

If a player runs out of cards, that player may take a card from any other player who has more than one card.

Players don't need to ask for things they have so if it is one player's turn and no other player has a card the game is over and the players have won.


It takes around 20 minutes to win the game. It can be lost a lot quicker! The players can help themselves by leaving cards that have been given away face up. For a tough time keep these cards out of sight. Players will then need to help each other remember what cards have gone.

The game can be made shorter by using less cards.

If players find the game too difficult they can give each other hints about the top cards they have. Of course showing cards to each other is too easy and there is no challenge at all.

Students who have difficulty with the vocabulary may point at the pictures on the board and say “I want this!”

Of course, language need not be limited to I want". Phrases like "May I borrow.." or "Do you have.." can easily be used. Players with greater language ability might like to give reasons why they want a particular item.

An interesting project might be to get students to make their own version of the game using items they actually buy or want to have.


The following links may be useful or interesting:

Buy Nothing Day HQ - located at Adbusters.

Buy Nothing Day UK Learn more bout the issues by following links from this resources page.

Buy Nothing Day Japan - home of Zenta!

Center For an American Dream "Helping Americans consume responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life and promote social justice." Of course, it's not just Americans who could learn to consume responsibly. I'm no paragon.

EcoFuture™ Some facts and figures about consumerism.

getfile: Buy Nothing Day Game

Open Low Quality PDF file (270kb) A4 size

Download Self-extracting PDF file (3.6 MB) A4 Size

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