Children's party games
by Tash Hughes of
Have you forgotten all the games you
loved and played as a child?
Here are a number of traditional
games to spark your memory and help you run a party for
your own children.
Pass the parcel
A well loved game where everyone gets
to open a present, not just the birthday child.
Having a little gift in each layer
can make the game more interesting for all involved.
Alternatively, put a gift in some layers to increase the
Some play the game by including clues
about who is to open the parcel, eg ‘who is wearing
blue?, who has green eyes?, who is the eldest? Try to
include something so each child is the answer to at
least one question.
Start the game randomly, but make
sure each child has the opportunity to open a layer.
It’s not always easy to time the music stops, but well
worth the effort to keep all the guests happy.
Pin the tail on the donkey
The basics of this game stay the
same, but the donkey can change. Make the game suit the
party’s theme or the child’s interest. Some suggestions
Tail on the mermaid
Trunk on the elephant
Patch n the pirate
Wand on the fairy
Honey pot on Winnie the Pooh
Crown n a princess
Basket on Red Riding Hood
Hammer on Bob the Builder
Nose on the clown
Shoe on Cinderella
Before the game, make sure the
blindfold is effective – the kids won’t admit they can
see! Younger children may find it hard to wait their
turn so maybe have them dancing or singing as a group at
the same time as playing this.
Arrange a way to record who pinned
the thing where … It may be a pen mark with the child’s
initials, a coloured sticker or a tag.
Although the game is called “pin
the…” you don’t actually have to use a pin. For safety,
a dob of blu-tack or double sided tape can be put on the
Lots of fun and active, this is a
great game. Little children usually grasp the outline of
the game and have fun even if they don’t fully
It’s not easy finding the right
number of chairs to set out, or the space for them all.
Folding chairs are best avoided as they may collapse in
the rush to sit on it. A safe and easy alternative is
musical cushions. Some big cushions or pillows can be
spread out instead of chairs.
Choose interesting music to play by –
use one of the child’s favourite CDs instead of yours.
Make the music bursts short and the changeovers quick so
the game is fast and exciting.
It may be a good idea to have a small
activity near by for those children who get out early,
or they will be bored and try to rejoin the game.
Otherwise, let little children play the game without
anyone actually going out.
Bobbing for apples
Traditionally, a popular party game
for children and adults, bobbing for apples hasn’t been
played as often over the last fifty or so years.
It is best played outside and in
summer as everyone will end up with at least a wet face.
A big barrel or tub is the best
container for the water, but you can improvise with
Have some other fruit handy for those
children who won’t or can’t eat apples. Not many other
fruits work very well for the actual bobbing, though –
you could try large strawberries, nectarines, peaches or
Simplified versions can be used with
younger children, but treasure hunts are more successful
with primary aged children.
Treasure hunts can be done as a set
of clues for the children to follow to a hidden
treasure. The clues can be pictures, simple directions
or a riddle depending on the children’s ages. Children
can work individually, in pairs or as a single group as
Alternatives to this involve the
children having to find items from a list. Again the
list can be done in pictures, words or riddles. The
winner is the child who collects the most correct items.
Children will come up with their own
variations on this game. Instead of just freezing when
the music stops, they may decide to make funny faces,
pose in certain ways, make animal noises, balance on one
leg or a multitude of other positions.
Make the music lively and cheerful,
and something the children will like and preferably
know. Keep it fast and unpredictable.
The first few rounds of the game can
be for everyone before you start picking out the last
person to freeze to be out.
This is a great filler game – to
amuse them whilst food is served, parents are arriving,
another game flopped or if they are getting annoyed at
each other. It doesn’t take any preparation and relies
on the children listening.
Obviously aimed at the youngest of
children’s parties, ring-a-ring-a-rosie is poplar and
fun. It is best if you join in, including falling down –
the children will love to see you do this and you will
be a role model on how to play.
Make sure there is plenty of space
around the circle as children tend to spread out as they
You don’t need any recorded music for
this game, just sing along with the kids and have fun!
Depending on the children’s ages and
interest, you can include both arms, both legs, the
head, the body, the tummy, the bottom (children will
giggle and love this one!) and various small body bits
(ears, fingers, knees, noses and elbows have all been
It sounds simple, and it is!
Put on something bright music and get
the children dancing. They will have fun and it is great
to watch them express themselves in this way.
It is also good exercise for them
(and you, if you join in) and helps them develop
coordination and rhythm.
Use any music you like – the Wiggles
and Jelly Bugs are fun, but kids will also enjoy many of
the danceable pop songs as well.
Tash Hughes is
the owner of Word Constructions and assists businesses
in preparing all written documentation and web site
content. Tash also writes parenting and business articles for
inclusion in newsletter and web sites.