Great party games are a life-saver. They work. They involve everybody, cost practically nothing and have stood the test of time. How wonderful!
Remember ripping off the gift wrap in Pass the Parcel?
Or pinning the Tail on the Donkey?
And who doesn't recall excitedly choosing a mystery gift from the Lucky Dip?
In this section of the site you'll find tons of ideas!
Get all your activities organized well before the party.
Then you can concentrate on the food and decor etc, without worrying about what the kids are actually going to do.
No matter what kind of party you're giving, this list will prove invaluable. Most kids expect to play at least one of these, if not more!
You'll need some suitable music as well as enough chairs to play this.
Arrange chairs in pairs facing outwards in a line. One less chair than the number of children playing. The music starts and the little ones start moving around the chairs - they can dance or just walk very carefully!
When the music stops, they have to try and sit down. The child who doesn't find a chair to sit on is "out". It's a good idea to have a consolation sweet handy to give the child who is out! The game continues until there is only one chair and two children left. The winner sits on the last remaining chair. The prize comes from the Lucky Dip!
The usual version of Kim's involves preparing a tray with a number of items on it (cup, saucer, spoon, torch, pen, ball of string etc), and getting the guests to memorize the items before covering the tray with a cloth and asking the guests to write a list of everything they remember.
For little ones, you could prepare a similar tray, or stand the children round a table. Arrange eight to ten items. They could be a mixture of party items - a party hat, unlit candle, cup, gift ribbon, cuddly toy, birthday card - and everyday objects such as keys, a photo in a frame, a roll of toilet paper - you get the picture!
Everybody has to look carefully at the objects. Then everybody must turn around and shut their eyes. An adult - or a child - takes one object off the table. "Ready!!" Then everybody turns round and looks to see what's missing.
The first child to spot what's missing gets to remove the next item. Replace each item after each go. At the end of the game, get all the children to turn away and close their eyes. Remove everything from the table into a bag. Then all the children turn round and as a group try and remember every item that was on the table. That way, everybody wins!
Pass the Parcel
This really is my favorite... and kids want this one at every party, so be warned!
Wrap a gift in many layers. If there are seven children playing, you'll need to wrap the gift seven or eight times! Use as much or as little sticky tape as you like, less for younger children.
More music needed for this game. Seat the children in a circle and start the music. The children slowly pass the parcel around. When the music stops, the child holding the parcel takes one layer of wrapping off. Then the music starts again.
Give each child a chance to unwrap a layer of paper. Why not put a favor in each layer? The winner is the child who takes off the final layer of giftwrap.
You'll need a big bag of clothes. You could gather together dress up stuff or costumes from other parents for firefighter/cowboy/princess items, as well as using
The children stand in a circle, the music starts - and the bag needs to be passed round the circle. When the music stops, the child holding the bag has to take something out and put it on.
Once all the items have been used, the winner is the person wearing the most clothes.
Now put some dance music on and tell the children to dance for two minutes in their new outfits!
I Went to the Shops
All the kids sit in a circle. An adult or child can start by saying "I went to the shops and I bought an apple."
The next child has to add to the list - "I went to the shops and I bought an apple and some beans." And so the game continues.
For little kids it gets too difficult if they get it wrong and are out, as it's harder to remember what everybody said! So it's best just to help each other out.
Finish off with a clap for everybody for remembering so well!
Pin the Tail on the Donkey
You can make a large picture of a donkey and attach it to a wall. Prepare a tail made of string or wool or fabric. Use sticky - tac or tape to stick on the tail.
Have a blindfold ready - a large handkerchief or a scarf will do nicely. Blindfold a child (the birthday boy or girl can go first), spin them round three times and point them in the direction of the donkey.
Write the name of the child on the spot where they "pinned" the tail. Each child can have a go, the winner being the one who put the tail nearest to where that tail should be! For themed parties, this could be easily adapted, using a picture that suits, be it a dino, bunny, and so on.
Use recorded music - or get some of the older kids to play in a chaotic band! A parent can be a conductor, and tell the band to play!
While the music is playing, the children have to move about, dancing, impersonating animals or pretending to do a certain activity.
Then the conductor swishes the baton and the band stop playing! Now the kiddies have to stand as still as a statue. The "judge" or even your band conductor finds someone who is moving a tiny bit - and that someone is out! The odd occasion there may be nobody out! The winner is the last child left :)
Hunt the Thimble... or Other Small Item!
I'm sure one child would love to choose where to hide an item for the others to find!
Send the finders out of the room for a minute while your hider finds a place for your thimble - or little butterfly, as we have here. Adults are free to give ideas of great hiding places! Don't make it too difficult, though!
Then let the finders in. The first child to spot the hidden item gets a turn to hide it.
The child who is Simon stands in front of everybody and gives various commands, such as "Simon says, jump up and down!". If he doesn't say "Simon says" then the children must not do the action. If they do they are out. The last child remaining is the winner, and can have a turn at being Simon.
What's the Time Mister Wolf?
You could have an adult be Mister - or Mrs - Wolf for the first round. As this is a chasing game, you'll need enough room for your guests to run - so this could be played outside.
Mister Wolf stands at one end of the room. The children stand in a group at the other end of the room. Slowly moving towards the wolf, they start to shout "What's the time Mister Wolf?"
If Mister Wolf says "one o'clock!" or "six o'clock", the children can continue. But if the wolf shouts "Dinner time!" they had better start to run - as Mister Wolf will chase them! The child that is "tagged" gets to be Mister Wolf for the next round.
Follow the Leader
Clear some space! The children line up behind a "leader" who will then walk, hop, jump, turn around, crawl, pretend to be an animal or whatever takes their fancy! The others have to copy.
Change the leader every 10 seconds or so until everyone has had a go! You could finish all your games with this one as everyone falls into an exhausted heap!
Three legged race
Kids get together in pairs and one child's right leg is tied to the other child's left leg. Assemble the kids at the start line, blow your whistle and let them race to the finish! Make it more interesting by getting them to pick up a few items en route -
We used to use real sacks - I still remember how my legs itched afterwards! You can use pillow cases or sleeping bags. Each kid gets into their "sack" and jumps to the finish line.
This one is for kids who have a bit of strength in their arms! The children get into pairs again - one holds the other child's feet, and then they set off, one child "pushing" or at least supporting the other, who has to walk on their hands.
Egg and spoon race
You can use real eggs, hard boiled eggs or small potatoes if preferred! If you're using real eggs, play this game outside and ensure you have a good supply of eggs to give to any kids who drop theirs and want another go!
The kids line up with their eggs on their spoons and race to the finish line balancing their eggs on the spoon.
Prepare a set of bingo cards - animals, fruit, or numbers, for example. DLTK has sets of free printable bingo cards ideal for your party.
The kids sit in a circle. The first child whispers a phrase to the next child - and the message is whispered to the next child and the next to the last child, who then has to say what they think the message is. Usually the phrase has completely changed from the original!
Kids often can't think of a thing to whisper at first! It's best to prepare a few "whispers" to get them started.
Do the opposite
Get the kids standing in a group - and prepare your instructions:
- and tell the kids that they have to do the opposite of what you ask them to do! So make sure your instructions are ones that they will be able to do opposites to. Sometimes the opposites might be a bit different - for example, the opposite of "raise your right arm" could be to keep your right arm down or to raise your left arm.
Kids who do just what you tell them are out.
Hide and seek
Remember this one? All the children hide, except for the seeker who then has to find as many children as possible.
Older children like the idea of having to get back "home" - or to a designated spot like the front door, without being caught. Once "home" they can become seekers.
If you have the space, catching is a great way to entertain the kids - a couple of activities followed by some time outside if the weather is good is a nice combination before your party tea.
Choose a ball that is appropriate for the kids' age - a medium-sized foam ball may be ideal.