Icebreakers on Name Tags: How to do it RIGHT

Name tags are good. Icebreakers are good. They both help guests meet new people at your party.

What if you combine them both: can you put an icebreaker on the name tag?

I’ll show you how I’ve seen name tag icebreakers done well, what it looks like, and examples of exactly which icebreakers to use.

Example at Central Park

A Young Patrons program hosted an event for the Central Park Conservancy where they used name tags in a special way.

They asked everyone to write their favorite Netflix show on a name tag.

Simulated name tag because I didn’t take a close-up photo of my name tag that night (LOL!)

This served as an icebreaker to talk to new people.

I’m really passionate about Young Patrons programs at cultural orgs. These are typically special membership tiers with fancy perks for people under the age of 40. I love them so much that I once hosted a party for organizers of these groups in NYC.

Name tag icebreaker photos

At this party, people wrote down their favorite Netflix shows on their name tags.

Like my friend Claire, who wrote down “The Good Place” on her name tag:

My friend Claire wrote The Good Place on her name tag as one of her favorite shows then.
I wrote the West Wing on my name tag, one of my favorite old TV shows.

Icebreaker questions for name tags

To pick a good icebreaker question to be written on the name tag, you need to keep these things in mind:

(1) Make it easy

Make it easy, so that people can quickly write it down.

Guests shouldn’t have to think too long about their answer.

(2) Make it short

The answer should be short and concise. There isn’t a lot of space to write on most name tags. And you want it to be easy and fast for someone to read.

(3) Keep it fun

Nothing too serious! Keep it fun and lighthearted. These are meant to be conversational starters, or launching points, to help people make small talk.

My friends Emily, Bryan, Brittany, and Chelsea all look great with their name tags on!

Good examples of name tag icebreakers

  • What’s one of your favorite TV shows?
  • What’s one of your favorite things to eat for breakfast?
  • What is a good book you’ve read recently?
  • What is a charity or non-profit organization you like?

Bad examples of name tag icebreakers

  • What is the best single piece of advice for a new college graduate? (too hard)
  • What are the Top 3 things you’re most excited about? (too long)
  • What’s one of the WORST first dates you went on? (not fun)

Feedback from use

My friend Ciaran took my advice to use icebreakers on name tags at one of his company mixers.

I encouraged him to keep it simple, and just use the “What’s one of your favorite TV shows?” example.

Here’s what he told me about how it went:

“Thanks again Nick for your advice and council here. We just finished our event and it was a ROUSING success. People loved the name tags and the inclusion of an incredibly simple prompt (favorite TV show) really helped people have something quick and simple to connect on.”

Ciaran Rogers, Head of Growth, Insurate
Bryan wrote Schitt’s Creek on his name which is a show he loves. He also wrote five years on his name tag which tells you how long he’s been in the organization.

Conclusion

Adding an icebreaker to your name tags at an event can be an easy way to make small talk.

It helps your guests break out of the “So what do you do?” style conversations.

Liz and Scott also wrote their favorite shows on their name tags!

Remember to do these three things when picking an icebreaker that people will write on their name badge:

  1. Make it easy,
  2. Make it short, and
  3. Keep it fun.

Have you done this at a party or event or a work function?

Send me an email and tell me how it went. For bonus points, include some photos so I can update this article.

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About the author

Howdy! I'm Nick Gray. Most people know me as the Founder of Museum Hack. I wrote a book, The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, about making new friends and building big relationships through small gatherings.

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