If you're throwing a children's party or planning a kids' birthday party for any other occasion, you're probably wondering, ‘How do you entertain kids at a party?'.
Fortunately, we have a list of some of the most popular children's party games to ensure that all of the kids have a good time. There are plenty of outdoor and indoor party games to choose from here; you probably remember a classic party game or two from your childhood as well!
Most of these fun games require little to no equipment or set up, if any at all, so gather a few balloons, some colored paper, and your imagination and get ready to have some fun with these games to play at kids' birthday parties.
1. Balloon Stomp
This game can get loud and the kids can get a little excited, but it is so much fun!
Fill balloons with small sweets or treats before blowing them up and tying them. Keep the balloons in large bin bags until you're ready to release them. Set the balloons free and challenge the children to pop them all to find the hidden treasure inside.
Consider doing a pirate-themed version of this game with black balloons filled with gold chocolate coins as treasure.
Consider organizing a variety of balloon-related games, such as balloon- relay, pass the balloon, balloon waddle, and so on.
2. Duck, Duck, Goose
To begin, have everyone sit in a circle. One child walks around the circle gently tapping each person's head, saying “Duck, Duck” for those who were not chosen and “Goose” for those who were.
That person then runs around the circle, attempting to tag the player who is “it,” or reaching the open seat before them, which places the person in the middle until another person exits.
For younger children, you can also play without the middle penalty.
This is a simple game to adapt to a theme! For a Disney-themed party, how about a fun game of “Duck, Duck, Goose” that uses “Mickey, Mickey, Minnie” instead of “Duck, Duck, Goose”? This focuses on a classic game that every child enjoys, but with a more modern twist and on the theme of your party.
The kids will love it, and the birthday girl or boy will think it was made especially for them!
3. Egg and Spoon Race
Who doesn't enjoy an Egg and Spoon race?
Large or wooden cooking spoons, as well as serving spoons for older children, are ideal.
You can play with raw eggs for a squishy experience, or hard-boiled eggs for a less messy experience.
You could also make your version of the egg and spoon race by leaving out the egg entirely. Make it a ball and cone race, a beach ball and pizza platter race, or anything else you can think of to balance!
The guests will have a great time watching!
4. Musical Chairs
Set up two rows of chairs, with their backs touching.
The children must dance around the chairs and immediately sit on a chair when the music stops. Take a chair away each time the music plays. When the music stops, the child is left without a chair. The winner is the last child standing.
Use cushions instead of chairs for a safe party game for young children, such as at a 3-year-old's birthday party.
5. What Time Is It, Mr. Wolf?
This age-appropriate party game is best played with children aged 5 and up.
Mr. Wolf is the only one who is standing with their back to everyone. The other kids form a line on the other side of the room.
The children then ask, ‘What time is it, Mr. Wolf?' The wolf replies by saying a time such as ‘Three o'clock'. The kids must take that many steps towards the wolf before asking the time again.
When the children ask the wolf the time, the wolf can say ‘dinnertime!' at any time. The wolf then chases the other kids around the room, attempting to get them back to the starting line. If a person is tagged by the wolf, they become the wolf.
6. Grandmother's Footsteps
A grandmother is standing with their back to everyone. The other kids form a line on the other side of the room. Everyone draws closer when Grandmother's back is turned. When Grandmother turns around, anyone who is moving must return to the beginning.
The first person to reach Grandmother and tap her on the shoulder wins and becomes Grandmother for the next round.
7. Obstacle Course
This game is best played outside or at a party location. Collect a variety of items to use as obstacles, with the safety of the children in mind! They can be things that the kids must climb over or go around.
You could also set up a series of challenges for the kids to complete as part of the race. For instance:
- Eat a donut without using their hands
- Limbo under a pole
- Perform star jumps
- Fill a bucket with bean bags
- Skip with a jump rope
- Put a hula hoop around their waist
8. Pin the Tail on the Donkey
This fun game is an oldie but a goodie for a reason!
Draw a donkey on a large piece of poster board and make a tail from a separate piece of poster board.
Each child should be blindfolded and asked to attach the tail with Blu Tack. In the spot where they stick the tail, write the child's name.
The child who gets the closest to where the tail should win.
You can adapt this game to your party theme by pinning the horn on the unicorn or the parrot on the pirate's shoulder, for example.
9. Scavenger Hunt
This is a game that kids of all ages will enjoy.
This game can be played in two ways. The first method is to draw a map and show the kids pictures of the clues along the way. Each clue will lead them to some sort of treasure or reward.
The second option is for children to bring their own digital cameras or cell phones and photograph items or scenes on a list. The winner should be the person who finds the most items on the list. Hunts can take place in your backyard, a park, or a mall. Items to hunt can include items found in nature, shops, food at the mall, or items that correspond to specific letters.
If they are in public places, you can send them off in small groups with an adult chaperone.
Are you ready for a good laugh? Gather all of the children in a circle far enough apart that they cannot hear each other whispering. Make the birthday boy or girl think of a sentence she'd like to share. It can be anything! Then they must whisper it into the ear of the person to their right, with only one chance to say the sentence. The next person must decipher what was said and relay the message to the person to their immediate right.
The message must be read aloud by the last person to receive it. The birthday boy or girl must then repeat the original phrase so that everyone can hear how far off and silly it became!
Charades is a simple and enjoyable DIY game. Simply write different things on small pieces of paper, such as a monkey, a TV, going to bed, or a singer. Form two groups of kids. Each team will take turns randomly selecting one piece of paper. On each turn, one team member will look at the paper and act out what it says without speaking. Their team must figure it out before the timer runs out. The team with the most correct guesses at the end of the game wins.
12. Bubble Wrap Hopscotch
Get your bubble wrap and start hopping! Children and adults alike will enjoy blowing bubbles and playing outside. Make nine rectangles out of bubble wrap. With a permanent marker, assign a number from 1 to 9.
A small object or stone is tossed into one of the blocks by one of the players. The turn is skipped if the stone is outside of a box.
Once the stone has landed, the child is allowed to step in every available space except the one occupied by the stone, taking care not to step over any outside lines.
When two numbers are next to each other, such as 5-6, the child must jump with both feet at the same time.
When the child reaches the number 10, he or she must turn around and begin again.
The first person to complete the course ten times wins hopscotch!
13. Sack Race
Children want to move! This entertaining game for kids will help to expend pent-up party energy while also providing plenty of laughs. To match the party theme, decorate plain burlap potato sacks with felt cutouts. To get the shapes to stick to the sacks, use fabric glue or fusible web and an iron.
Provide each child with a potato sack. Arrange the children in a grassy area. At the starting signal, have kids hop down a marked path to the finish line, including a few curves to add a challenge. To avoid injuries, keep the path clear.
14. Pass The Parcel
This classic party game is fast-paced and entertaining, and all you need is one present and plenty of wrapping paper (enough to wrap said present multiple times) to pull it off. To begin, simply play music as the guests pass the parcel around in a circle; whenever the music stops, the person holding the present gets to remove one layer of wrapping paper before the passing resumes. When one lucky partygoer removes the final layer of wrapping and wins the prize, the game is over. Consider placing candy or a small prize between each layer of wrapping paper so that no one goes home empty-handed.
15. Simon Says
As far as party games go, Simon Says is a simple game that requires no setup at all.
Choose one child to be the leader, or ‘Simon,' and have them stand in front of the other children. The child must then call out actions for the children to copy (raise your hand, sit down, etc.) while saying ‘Simon says…' beforehand. When they say an action without saying ‘Simon says…,' the children must not copy it; anyone who does is out.
Change the game from ‘Simon says' to the birthday girl or boy's name – it will make them feel extra special!
16. Three-Legged Race
A three-legged race is an excellent way to teach children about teamwork. Pair the kids up and tie one of their legs to the leg of the other. You could use a ribbon or string to accomplish this. Then have the kids race from one point to another. Their tied legs must remain together for the duration of the race.
Top tip: Always use a soft material to tie the legs together and avoid tying them too tightly. They should always race on soft ground because they may fall over during the race.
17. Sleeping Lions
A quiet, calm party game – ideal for when things get out of hand!
Make everyone lie down and act like sleeping lions. Walk around and try to annoy them by talking to them or gently tickling them… You don't want them out too quickly, so go slowly!
Anyone who moves is kicked out. They can also assist in rousing the other lions.
A piñata is a Mexican treat that combines two of children's favorite things: chocolate and games. You can buy fun pre-made piñatas or make your own if you're feeling particularly crafty and have plenty of time on your hands. They are traditionally made in a variety of shapes and sizes, attractively colored, and hung above the children's heads. The children are then blindfolded and take turns hitting the piñata with a stick. When it finally breaks, the children are showered with sweet treats! If you make your piñata, make sure it's filled with small soft items that won't hit the kids in the head on their way down and hurt them!
Tips for Kids’ Party Games
- Keep an eye out for shy children who may find it difficult to participate. Encourage everyone to take part, but don't force it. Consider establishing an arts-and-crafts area where any children who become overwhelmed by a game can go to create a masterpiece instead.
- A loud and boisterous game, such as a race, is an excellent way for children to burn off energy. Choose a game that allows them to run around until they tire themselves out if they're on a sugar high from all that delicious party food. A quieter game is a great way to wind down the party. Sleeping lions are a hot favorite for this; they're also great for taking a break!
- If you're throwing a large party, it's always a good idea to start with an icebreaker game to get everyone acquainted. Even if they all attend the same school, they may not regularly play together. Any of the games listed above that require the children to work in groups are a good place to begin.
These games are enjoyable for both parents and children. Parents can sit back, relax, and watch their kids play and create memories of birthday parties they will never forget. Remember that the more involved the kids have to be in games, the more fun and memorable the games are for them. So, as long as there's a prize at the end, don't be afraid to put them to work.