No matter what the theme, games add extra zing to a birthday party. Children’s party games tend toward the silly or the creative, so have some fun and toss a few beach balls into a game of volleyball or use face paint for monster-theme makeovers. The best aspect of planning games for parties is that you can adapt them to your party theme, playing Pin the Star on the Wand or Musical Pirate Boats.
Most party games leave out the competitive sports and focus on the fun. Traditional games include musical chairs, balloon-stomping competitions and dancing the limbo. Circle games, such as Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky and Duck Duck Goose, work well for smaller parties, while active games, such as hide and seek and tag, take advantage of large backyards or open green spaces. Card and board games provide more reflective play during longer parties or slumber parties.
Children’s party games are about participation and enjoyment. Get everyone in on the action with games, such as Beat the Clock, where children must build a stack of 20 pillows or do a handstand in 30 seconds. Party activities like Follow the Leader, Capture the Flag, dodgeball, Red Rover, Octopus and Cartoon Tag keep everyone playing rather than waiting on the sidelines for a turn.
Many children’s party activities center around cooperative games, like Operator. In that game, one person whispers a message and the message travels around the circle until it’s announced at the end. Another cooperative game, Amoeba Tag, has two people holding hands and trying to tag other pairs. When they tag new couples, they all join hands and continue to chase remaining players, until no one remains.
Children’s party games create community. Try a friend-making activity, such as Fact or Fiction, where one person tells two truths and one lie about herself. Others vote on which statement is fiction. The key benefit of active games is that they allow children to get playful, while quieter games rein them in after something exciting.
Make various aspects of your child’s birthday party a game. For example, have kids frost their cupcakes blindfolded or build a party snack of marshmallows and toothpicks. They can make their own “cascarones” party favors by blowing out the insides of eggs, filling the eggs with confetti, sealing them with tissue paper and then smashing them over each others’ heads.
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