Party games make kids birthday parties come to life! Party children anticipate the birthday games as a key part of the birthday party fun.
"We had an Army birthday party theme, so we hid 10 items such as plastic army men, vehicles, army silly bands, and other items. Wrote them on a list and split into teams. This can be done for any birthday party theme!"
Spin the Nail Polish Bottle
"Place five different colors in a circle, and use clear coat for the spinner. Whatever color it lands on, the child must paint one of their fingernails. The game continues until all girls have painted. Girls love this game."s
"Get in your wizarding best and play a good ol' game of quidditch. Kids will have a 'ball' reenacting the fun Harry Potter sport, including a snitch, quaffles, bludgers, and brooms! A few tweaks to the official rules, and your kiddos and their friends will be remembering this birthday for years to come. Here's a link for official rules and other Harry Potter ideas."
Pass the Whipped Cream Pie
"Have children stand in one line. Two plates of whipped cream are passed from each player along the line whilst players are dancing to the music. When the music stops, the player must rub the plate of whipped cream 'round the world style' (start at the front and rub the plate around the head back to front), on their face. They are then out. Plates are replenished and repeated until the last player is standing. Obviously the last player get the 'world treatment.'"
Duck, Duck, Goose
A birthday party game for the younger crowd. All the kids sit in a circle facing the center. Then one child walks around the outside of the circle and taps each child on the head (gently) and says "duck". This continues on until the child touches someone and says "goose". Then the child who was called goose jumps up and tries to tag the one who called them goose before they can run all the way around the circle back to the open spot they left when they got up. Everyone's a winner.
Who am I?
Place a picture or a name of someone or something on the back of everyone at the party. Then everyone takes turns asking others questions about who they may be (what's on there back). The only answer you can give is yes or no. The first one to figure out who or what they are is the winner. I played this game one time at a company function where everyone was a star from a movie. I was Superman. Of course superman was the last to figure it out! Another fun party game.
Pin The Tail On The Donkey
A classic party favorite, this pin the tail on the donkey game will bring back fond memories of your own birthday parties! A poster of a donkey missing his tail is hung up on the wall at eye level with the children. Each child is given a tail sticker and blindfolded. The are spun around three times and pointed in the direction of the donkey.
Their goal is to be the one that gets their tail stuck closest to where the actual donkeys tail should be. You can create your own pin the tail on the donkey game if you are the creative sort, or you can purchase one.
"How low can you go?"- Always fun for kids of all ages! Set up a bar that can be raised or lowered, or have two people hold the bar. Play some music in the background and have everyone take a turn going under the bar. Everyone must go under the bar facing forward and leaning back! This birthday party game is really not that easy. The person who can go the lowest is the winner!
Lots of fun especially if you are having a 50s or 60s party! Just pick up one or two hula-hoops at the store and see who can hula-hoop the longest! A blast with older kids and young teens! A fun party game.
DIY Backyard Obstacle Course
Obstacle courses are always a big hit. It is not as complicated to build your own backyard obstacle course as many imagine. An obstacle course is simply a series of fun task, challenges, or mini games that the children try and rush through as fast as they can. They are usually set up so that as soon as you finish one task you move directly to the next until you reach the finish line.
You’ll need to come up with some creative obstacles for the kids, you can get as simple or as complicated as you want with these course ideas. You can use objects that you already have around your house for many obstacles. Here are some examples:
Set up old tires on their side for them to crawl through, or lay them on the ground for the kids to run through. Don’t have old tires, check out these inflatable Tires, made for obstacle course fun.
Hang a hula hoop from a tree and the kids must throw a football through it before they can move on.
Have a pile of balloons ready, the children must pop one by sitting on it to move on.
Set up a table and hang streamers, balloons, even pool noodles from underneath. The children must crawl under it to get to the other side.
Lay out a 2x4 piece of plywood on the ground. Have the children walk across it without touching the ground, for older children they must walk across it backwards.
Have the kids crabwalk from one section to another.
Have the kids jump in a potato sack from one section of the course to another.
For ideas to create an obstacle course that includes water and other messy obstacles check out my messy party games. Ideas for a messy obstacle course can be found near the end of the page.
The kids have a chance of getting wet in this fun outdoor water game. Teams race to fill their bucket of water before the other team does!
To PLAY: Divide players into two teams, and provide each player a plastic cup. On one side of the yard or playing area you will need to have a large container of water such as a kiddie pool or large cooler full. On the other side of the yard you will need to set up two identical buckets or pails.
The teams create a line from the large container of water to their bucket. On the start of go the child closest to the starting container of water fills his or her cups and go and pours it into the next person’s cup as fast as possible. That person pours it into the next person’s cup, and so on until the water reaches the last player who pours it into the teams bucket. This assembly line style race continues until one team fills up their bucket to claim victory.
Bean Bag Attack
Bean bag toss games are nothing new, but they never get old! Create your own bean bags using kid’s socks and dry beans. Simply fill the sock halfway up with dry beans, tie a knot in the sock, and then fold the part hanging off back over onto the bean bag sock. Set up objects for kids to throw them at. This can be a stack full of cups, buckets, or even a card board box with a hole cut in the side.
In this outdoor party game you will need string, rope, or ribbon to tie a balloon around every child’s ankle. Leave about a foot of string between the ankle and the balloon. TO PLAY: The object of this game is for the children to stomp and pop as many of their friends balloons as they can without getting theirs popped. They are not allowed to touch any balloons (including their own) with their hands. The person with the last balloon intact WINS! This game is a blast and kids LOVE it, have enough balloons to play a couple of rounds if you can.
Bubble Wrap Races
This game is fun and will having everyone giggling. Buy a large roll of bubble wrap and lay out a 5-foot piece of it in the yard or in an open space. Have each child cross the bubble wrap barefoot -- the object is to get all the way across without popping any of the bubbles. If you want to make it more competitive, line up three sections and have teams race across to the other side. The team who cross without making a peep (or making the least pops) wins!
Photo Scavenger Hunt
Photo scavenger hunts are fun and easy to adapt to any party's theme and the ages of the guests. There are two ways you can do a photo hunt. Sketch out a map and give kids pictures of the clues to be found along the route. Along with each clue they find, there will be a small reward. If you're having a pirate theme party, then clues could be chocolate coins, with a treasure chest of prizes at the end. Alternatively, kids can bring their own digital cameras or cell phones and take pictures of items or scenes on a list -- whoever finds the most items wins the hunt. Hunts can take place in a mall, a park or around your home. Lists of items to hunt can include things in nature, shops and food at the mall or items that relate to specific letters. You can send kids off in small groups with an adult chaperon if they are in public places.
The kids race to roll the orange past the finish line, but wait there’s one catch; The children cannot use their hands or feet. Instead they must use their nose to roll the orange. TO PLAY: provide Each child starts on their hands and knees at the starting line. Place an orange in front of each player. On the start of go they all rush their oranges to the finish line using only their nose.
Sack Game Race
This is THE classic outdoor game. Everyone lines up at the starting line and steps inside their sack. When the whistle blows they hop in their sack as fast as they can to the finish line to claim VICTORY!
Perfect game for outdoor fun! If you don’t have your own sacks (many people use old fashioned potato sacks) then check out this affordable set of 6 from Amazon.
In this outdoor game the kids must try to collect as treasure rocks as they can and race them back to their base. The treasure rocks can be created by wrapping candy and small prizes in aluminum foil. Beware though; when collecting treasure rocks the children must watch out for the Dragon who guard the treasure. If the dragon tags a child they must drop any treasure rocks they have and run back to their base. When all the rocks have been collected the children can open them up and share the prizes inside.
SET UP & PLAY: You’ll need an adult volunteer to play the dragon, a bag of candy, and aluminum foil to create the treasure rocks. Create enough treasure rocks so that all children will get some, usually about 5-10 for each child.
Have the Dragon stand in the middle of the yard surrounded by the treasure rocks. The little explorers wait on either side until the word GO. Have a basket or bucket on each side to represent their base.
"Paddles can be made using paper plates with paint sticks hot glued onto the back of the plate as the handle. Inflate a balloon (tie a knot) and give each kid a paddle. Rules can be simple or a little more challenging depending on the age. Keep the balloon off the floor using the paddle. Another way is to use string or rope as a 'net' that the balloon has to go over back and forth."
"Roll up a small ball of black yarn, one for each child, the size of a golf ball. Have the children stand in a circle holding their ball. A parent or helper can then tie the yarn around each child's waist and give that child the rest of the ball to hold. Each child, taking turns around the circle, tosses the ball of yarn to someone across from him. That child then wraps the yarn once around him and tosses it to another child and so on and so on. When they are done tossing and wrapping, they must now get themselves out of the spiderweb they have made." —Chrissy Boerman of Boerman Ramblings
Simon says read on. Get all the kids to stand at one end of your yard or large room. Then Simon (probably mom or dad) gives the crowd an order beginning with "Simon Says". Example: Simon says take one giant step forward. Then everyone does what Simon says. After a few of these you throw in an order without saying "Simon Says" and anyone who does it without Simon saying is out. Whoever follows only Simon's orders and is left at the end of the game wins!
Relay races are a classic outdoor party game. For a relay race players are divided into at least two teams. They line up in their team at the starting line. Then, on the start of go one person from each team races to the finish line and back, they tag the next person on their team. Then that person also races to and back and again tags the next person in their teams line.
This game is simple yet is always a fun hit at the party. Provide the kids toothpicks and a couple bags of mini -marshmallows. Allow 15 minutes to see who can construct the tallest marshmallow tower.
For this party game you’ll need to prepare a bunch of mystery bags before the party. Brown paper lunch bags work great. Place a different object into each one. The more creative the better, some fun ideas might include:
- half an apple
- peeled grapes
- Q tips and cotton balls
- tube of toothpaste
- socks folded into a ball
- remote control
- corn on the cob
Let each child stick their hand in each bag and try and guess what it is without looking. The person that guesses the most correct wins! Make the objects more difficult for older groups of children.
In this game the kids will bop a balloon in the air while dancing to music. When the music stops whoever was the last person to touch the balloon must pop it and complete the challenge inside. The challenges should be fun and silly. Check out my list of kid dares for a list of ideas.
After the child completes their challenge throw another balloon into the group and start the music for a new round. Keep playing until you run out of balloons. You should prepare the balloons ahead of time by writing the challenges on slips of paper and slipping one into each balloon before inflating it.
Blind Obstacle Course
Set up a small obstacle course using cushions, sheets, tables, chairs, or other household objects. One child is blindfolded and must try to make it through the obstacle course guided only by the voices of the other children. They may have to crawl under a sheet, avoid cushions, or crawl over chair. When they make it to the end they are awarded a small prize and the next child gets a turn.
Ping Pong Toss
Group together 25 plastic cups in rows of five on the floor. Write a number 1-5 on the inside of each cup. Let each child have a chance to toss five ping pong balls and land them into the cups.
Kids have a blast bouncing ping pong balls into cups and scoring points. Add up the points after each turn, have different prizes to choose from depending on the number of points scored; under 5 points, 6- 12 points, over 15 points!
This is a great indoor cooperative party game. You’ll need a floor puzzle; these are children puzzles with oversized pieces meant to be built on the floor. Hide all the pieces around the party area. Have the children work together to find them all and put the puzzle together as fast as they can to win the grand prize. This can be anything from a small treat or prize to it being “cake time”.
If you want to make this a competitive game you can always purchase two or three puzzles and divide the guests into teams to see which one can find and put together their puzzle first. If you choose this version, make sure you mark the back of all the puzzle pieces before you hide them so that each team knows which puzzle piece belongs to who. You can also choose not to hide them and just have the teams race to put together the puzzles.
Turn up the music and have the kids show off their moves, but when the music stops everyone must FREEZE! Anyone who gets caught moving when the music is off must sit out until the next game. Turn the music back on and keep playing. Winner is the last one standing!
Children must scoop as many cotton balls as they can from one bowl (filled with cotton balls) to another bowl ( about two feet away) in 45 seconds. They catch is they must be blindfolded and use a mixing spoon to scoop the cotton balls with. No touching the cotton balls. After each child’s turn count the cotton balls and write down their total. Continue until all players have had a turn. The one with the most cotton balls wins.
Doggie, Doggie, Where's Your Bone?
This is a fun children’s party game that can be played indoors or outdoors. Choose an object to represent the bone. This can be any small object such as a deck of cards to a stuffed animal. One child is the “doggie”. All the children sit down in a group. The child designated the doggie will sit in front of the group with his or her back facing toward them.
The doggie places the bone behind their back and closes his or her eyes. One of the children quietly sneaks up and grabs the bone then places it behind their own back. All the children then sing
"Doggie, Doggie, where’s your bone? Someone stole it from your home!"
At that point the doggie opens their eyes and turns around and tries to guess who has the bone. Afterward another child takes their turn as the doggie and the game is repeated.
Duck, Duck, Goose!
In this classic chase game all the children sit in a circle. One child (the caller) goes around the circle tapping each child on the head and says “duck” until he chooses one child and calls out “Goose!”. The sitting child must then get up and try to tag the caller before he races around the circle and returns to steal the gooses place in the circle. If the goose tags the caller then the caller must sit in the middle of the circle until another caller is tagged to take his or her place. The goose becomes the next caller.
You can easily change “Duck Duck Goose” to another name to fit your theme party. If you are having a lego themed party then you could play this as “Block Block Lego”. A garden themed party, how about “Flower Flower Rose”.
For this classic children’s party game the children sit in a circle and pass around a potato as fast as they can while the music is playing. The idea is to pretend the potato is hot and to get it out of your hands and into the next child’s hands as fast as you can. When the music stops whoever is caught holding the potato is out and must sit out or sit in the middle of the circle. Continue playing until only one child is left and declare them the winner.
This game can be varied in many ways. As I mentioned above it can be turned into “pass the poison apple” for a Disney princess party. I played that version at my daughters 5th birthday and it was a big hit. If they were the child caught with the “poison apple”, I had each child pretend to take a bite and fall into a deep sleep. It was so much fun to watch how each girl dramatically fell under the spell. When they felt a tap on their shoulder from the magic wand they were allowed to awaken from the spell and collect a small prize. This way no child felt bad about being “out”.
Pass The Parcel
This is another game that can be played indoors. You’ll need a grand prize or enough small prizes for each player. Place them in a box and wrap the box in layers of different wrapping paper or tissue paper. Have the children sit in a circle and pass the wrapped box around while the music is playing. When the music stops whoever is left holding the box must remove a layer of paper. Continue until one person finally removes the last layer and reveals the grand prize.
A fun twist in this game is to hide stuff between each layer such as a joke, tongue twister or a fun challenge. The child that removes the layer must say the tongue twister, tell the joke, or perform the challenge. This adds a fun and funny addition to the pass the parcel party game that really livens it up.
Charades is a classic that is still played by both young and old. The rules are simple and the fun is enormous. The basics are one person acts out a clue, usually a person or object. Everyone else tries to guess what the clue is within two minutes. The person acting cannot talk. You can play charades in teams or as one big group. If you play as one big group, which is best with younger children, whoever guesses gets to be the next actor. Or, to make sure everyone gets a turn who wants one draw names out of a hat.
You’ll need about 10 pennies to play this game. You’ll also need a can, bowl, or bucket. Have each child stand back a couple of feet from the can. The older the child the farther back they should stand. Each child takes a turn and tries to get as many of their pennies into the can by tossing them one at a time. You can reward prizes for getting a certain amount in the can, or for getting the most, or you can just play for fun. Sound simple? It is, but it is a timeless favorite.
One person is Simon and they stand in front of the group. Everyone else is standing also facing Simon. Simon issues simple orders such as “touch your head” “spin in a circle” “stand on one foot”, etc. The children only follows the command if Simon preferences the order with “Simon says”. If a child follows a command where Simon did not begin it with “Simon says” then they must sit out to the next round. The winner is the last person standing, they get to be the next Simon.
Red Light - Green Light
Red Light Green Light is an outdoor game; you will needs lots of running space. One person is designated the traffic light. All the other children line up, side by side, on the opposite side of the playing area. The traffic light will turn his or her back to the group and yell out GREEN LIGHT, all the children will then run as fast as they can to try and be the first to touch the traffic light. The traffic light can yell out RED LIGHT at any point and flip back around to face the group.
If RED LIGHT is called everyone must freeze where they stand. If the traffic light see’s anyone moving he or she will be sent back to stand to where the farthest child from the traffic light stands, or to the beginning of the line.
The first person to touch the traffic light wins and gets to be the next traffic light.
Red Rover, Red Rover!
Red Rover Red Rover is another game that should be played outdoors. How to Play: The children divide into equal teams and stand on opposite sides of the backyard or playing area. Each team member stands side to side with their other team mates and clasp hands. Then one team starts by calling out choosing someone from the other team, say Sarah, and yells:
"Red Rover Red Rover – send Sarah right over!"
At this point whatever Sarah breaks from her team and runs as fast as she can between any two peoples clasped hands on the other team. If she breaks through them then she gets to choose any of their players to take back to her team. If she doesn’t break through the arms, then she now belongs to their team and must join their chain of hands.
Now it’s the next teams turn to call someone over. This continues until everyone is on the same team.
Hide and Seek
Hide and go seek is one of the most widely known and popular children’s game around. A tree or other area is designated as base, and then one person is chosen to be it. They must close their eyes and count, usually to 50. Everyone else must find a place to hide.
After the person who is “it” is finished counting they may start looking for the others. If “it” spots a person they must try and tag them before that person can tag base. The first person who is found and tagged by “it” becomes the next “it” and the game starts again.
In this classic birthday party game you will need to set up a circle of chairs. You should have enough chairs for every player minus one. The children walk around the chairs while the music is playing. When the music stops everyone must scramble to find a chair. The person who doesn’t find a chair is out. Then remove one of the chairs and start the music again. The winner is the person that snags the last chair.
Piñata’s are a very popular item to have a birthday parties. They are figures made out of cardboard and tissue paper that are usually stuffed with candy or small prizes.
There are two main type of piñata’s. The traditional piñata is hung from the ceiling or strung from a tree and the children are then blindfolded and given a stick or bat. They are turned around three times and then pointed in the direction of the piñata. They are given three chances to hit the piñata as hard as they can. After that it is the next child’s turn. Eventually the piñata will be busted open and all the children will race to collect the goodies that have spilled out of it.
The other kind of piñata is called a pull string piñata. It is very similar to the traditional piñata except that you do not bust it open using a bat. You still hang it from a tree, but on the bottom of this piñata are lots of hanging ribbons. One, and only one, of the ribbons will pull open a trap door on the piñata and release all the goodies inside. The children take turns pulling the strings until one release’s the candy.
The great thing about piñata’s is that you can get them is just about any shape now. From your child’s favorite characters such as Mickey Mouse, Dora the Explorer, race cars, or castles. Whatever your party theme is about you can almost be sure that you can find a piñata that will compliment it.
This game is similar to a cake walk (a popular carnival game), but instead of winning a cake, kids win prizes. Write numbers from 1-30 on squares and tape them to the ground in a circle. Make small numbered squares to correspond with the numbers on the ground and keep them in a basket. Start the game by having each child stand on a number and begin walking around the circle when the music starts. When the music stops they have to stand on a number. If their number is chosen from the basket, they win a prize. This game can continue until everyone wins a prize.
This is one of Riggs' favorite games. Kids bop a balloon in the air to music until the music stops, then whoever was the last to touch the balloon must pop it and complete the challenge that's inside. Write challenges on paper and insert them into balloons before inflating -- have enough balloons to continue the game for as long as you decide.Challenges can be anything from trivia questions to physical tests, like trying to lick your elbow or sing a song with a mouthful of crackers.
Incorporate this game into an October birthday for a Halloween-themed party, along with bobbing for apples. Divide kids into small groups and have them pick someone to be the mummy (or have an adult be the mummy). Pass out rolls of toilet paper to each group and whoever wraps up their mummy using all the toilet paper the quickest wins.
Origami Boat Races
This game is played by blowing through a straw to power paper boats across a plastic pool, with the winner being first to make it across. If you play this in groups, then the winners from each group or race can continue to play each other until a final winner is declared. The boats are easy to construct using origami paper that can be found at any craft supply. Older kids will enjoy making them, but parents may need to help younger ones with this craft. You'll find these instructions on making the boats easy to follow.
In this game, kids get to create their own entertainment. Start by giving each child or group of children a grocery bag of props, which can include anything from kitchen items and costumes to make-up and assorted clothing. Then give them an allotted time for planning their skits before you tape their performances. After everyone has finished, have a screening and award ceremony where each child receives a trophy for their part in the skit. Skits can entail anything from a talk or cooking show, to a TV commercial.
Pin the Tail on the Donkey
Hang up a picture of a donkey without a tail. Line the kids up a few feet away and give each one a tail (write their names on the tails or make each one a different color). Blindfold the first child and slowly spin him around three times. Point him in the direction of the poster to tape on his tail. After each child has had a turn, see which tail is the closest to where it should be.
Fun ideas that will keep your family active and entertained, start now.
Line up a row of chairs back to back. You should have one less chair than the number of kids playing. Turn up the tunes and have the kids walk clockwise around the chairs. When the music stops everyone must take a seat; one child will be left standing. Continue to play until only one child is left.
Bean Bag Toss
Lay a hula-hoop on the ground, or, as we suggested, a lion's head drawn onto a piece of cardboard with the mouth cut out. Line the kids up a few feet away. Each child takes a turn tossing three beanbags into the lion's mouth. Push the starting line back a few feet each round, to make it more challenging.
Choose one child to be the leader and have her stand in front of the rest of the group. The leader shouts out commands like, "Simon says, 'wave your right hand' or 'bend your left knee'". The group must mimic her moves but only if she says, "Simon says" first, otherwise they're out. The last one standing wins the game
Guess How Many
Fill a jar with colorful candy or toys, like jelly beans or bouncy balls. Then have each child write down how many they think are in the jar. The child with the guess closest to the actual number is the winner.
Think of fun questions related to the party theme, such as sports. If it's a large party, split the kids into teams and have them answer questions as a group. Keep a tally to see which team has the most points at the end.
No need to buy a piñata for this fun piñata alternative, but you will need a fun spirited adult to play the candy keeper. The candy keeper holds the big bag of candy and treats, the kids job is to tag the candy keeper. If the candy keeper is tagged they must freeze and the only way they can become unfrozen is to throw out some of their candy and escape while the children are racing to pick it up. Designate a place for the Candy Keeper to call base. The children cannot come onto the Candy Keepers base or tag him while he’s on it. Keep playing until all the candy is gone.
Everyone hates to be the one left with "standing room only". Just set up a line of chairs, one short from the number of players and start the music. Everyone walks around the chairs and sits down once the music stops. Whoever is left standing has to drop out. Take away one chair so you are short one and start the music again. This continues until only one person has a chair. They are the winner of this party game!
Set up a circle of numbers on the ground and have everyone stand on a number. Begin playing festive music and have everyone walk from number to number. Draw a number from a hat and then stop the music. Whoever is standing on that number when the music stops is the winner! I have played this game at many school carnivals where the prize is a cake. But, you can give away something different.
BYOB Bike/Tricycle Race
Kids will stay happily occupied with this obstacle course bike race, which includes a bike decorating contest and award ceremony. Just note on the invitations that it's a BYOB (or bring your own bike) party, and be sure to ask parents to bring their kids' helmets along, too. Have some extras on hand for those who forget.
Create a short obstacle course and time each rider separately, or if it's a large area, they can all go at the same time. This game can also be made into a relay race. The race can take place in a park, vacant lot, cul-de-sac or driveway. Have kids decorate bikes with streamers, pennants and noisemakers made from playing cards placed between the spokes. You can find traffic cones at any major home improvement store and plastic skateboard ramps at local supercenters. You can also have a water spray at the end of the race course during summertime parties. At the end of the race, hand out prizes like plastic trophies, water bottles and bike accessories, such as spokesters, horns and pennants.