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Icebreaker Name Tags: Examples and How to Do It RIGHT

Last updated: March 24, 2023

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.

Here is what you’ll learn in this post:

  • Icebreaker questions to put on name tags
  • Good examples of icebreaker name tags
  • Bad examples of icebreaker name tags
  • Name tag games you can play
Why you should trust this article: My name is Nick Gray and I’ve helped over 175 people learn how to host cocktail parties and networking events. I’ve personally written thousands of name tags and done hundreds of icebreakers at a party. New York Magazine once called me a host of “culturally significant” parties.

Example in New York City

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

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

This served as an icebreaker to talk to new people.

Here is what that looked like:

Name tags laid on the table with a handwritten text: "Nick The West Wing" with an arrow pointing to it and a two yellow starburst
Simulated name tag because I didn’t take a close-up photo of my name tag that night (LOL!)

How to Make Icebreaker Questions for Name Tags

Icebreakers are supposed to help your guests easily start a conversation between each other. 

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 their answer on the name tag.

Guests shouldn’t have to think too long about their answer. Don’t create stress by giving a brain teaser at the start of your party or event. This is why I often use the question “What is one of your favorite breakfasts?” for my first icebreaker.

(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 as they glance at their name tag.

(3) Keep it fun

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

2022 05 31 IcebreakersOnNametags04 1new
My friends Emily, Bryan, Brittany, and Chelsea all look great with their name tags on!

Video: Icebreakers on Name Tags

See how I’m doing it in this video filmed March 2023 at one of my events.

Good Examples for Icebreaker Name Tags

  • 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 Example Questions for Icebreaker Name Tags

  • 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)

Photos: Icebreaker Name Tags

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

2022 05 31 IcebreakersOnNametags06
Liz and Scott also wrote their favorite shows on their name tags!

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

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

2022 05 31 IcebreakersOnNametags05new
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 starts the conversation with a fun and casual topic. This makes it more likely for your guests to become connected. 

Name tags with icebreakers on them also helps your guests break out of the “So what do you do for work?” style conversations.

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.
  4. Try some of these name tag games.

If you are going to do this at an event or a work function, send me an email and tell me what your specific party date is. I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have. 

For even more advice on hosting a cocktail party, grab my book The 2-Hour Cocktail Party.

About the author

Nick Gray is the author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party. He’s been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and in a popular TEDx talk. He sold his last company Museum Hack in 2019. Today he’s an expert on networking events, small parties, and creating relationships. Read more about Nick Gray here.

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