Kids Party Games
Many games can be made from items you already have on-hand, such as balls, buckets, and brooms and therefore cost little or nothing. Other games, such as a bean bag toss or magnetic dart board, may be worth purchasing because you can use them over-and-over again.
Alternate boisterous games with quieter games to keep the children’s energy at a reasonable level. Focus on noncompetitive games where all children can have fun.
Prizes aren’t necessary for most games, but if you do provide prizes give one to each child for effort. For example, award a prize to each child who completes a relay race, not just to the team that was the fastest. Prizes can be small party favor items, such as stickers, coins, and award ribbons or fill a prize basket with an assortment of items and allow children to pick the item they want.
Be flexible and don’t require all children to participate. Be ready to allow a game to go longer if children are having a good time or change to a new game as needed. Be ready to help those who need it, such as a guest who can’t read the clues well or a child who may need an extra hint.
Scavenger & Treasure Hunt
Divide children into groups and give each group a list of 10 things they can find in the party area. For example, if the party is at a park the list might include a pine cone, a feather, a rock the size of a penny, etc.
Have children follow clues, a map, footprints, or arrows (made from sticks or small rocks) to find a special treat (favor bags or food). To make footprints, cut a stencil out of paper and then sprinkle flour inside the cutout area.
Younger children can dig for treasure (coins, small plastic animals, etc.) in a sand box. Tie small prizes to the ends of very long pieces of yarn or twine and hide object so it’s not visible. Unroll yarn in twist-and-turn patterns around the room or yard. Have each child start at the beginning of her piece of yarn and roll it up until she finds the prize at the end.
Use items you already have to create an obstacle course. For example: children might need to crawl through a box, walk across a board, hop through a hula hoop, jump over a rope and ring a bell to reach the finish line. Time each child with a stop watch and encourage her to try to beat her own time on her second try.
Toss & Target Games (balls, beanbags, rings or coins)
Buy or make a bean bag toss, ring toss or safe dart toss (rubber tipped darts or velcro balls). Have children toss balls into buckets, laundry baskets, or through hoola hoops hung from a tree.
Toss coins into pie pans or targets drawn on the ground in chalk. Other objects that can be tossed include buttons, poker chips, peanuts, clothes pins, balls, playing cards, wrapped candy, sponges, dried beans, or washers (hardware).
Objects can be tossed into milk bottles, drinking glasses, bowls, plates, muffin pans, egg cartons, coffee cans, jars, shoes, hats, flower pots, boxes, and even an open umbrella. For an extra challenge toss objects into pie pans floating in a kiddie pool.
Play a version of hot potato by having children sit in a circle and pass around an object (a stuffed animal works well) until a timer goes off. The child holding the object when the timer goes off is “the silly monkey” or whatever fun name ties in with your party theme or the object the children are passing.
Play variations on duck-duck-goose to fit your party theme, such as ghost, ghost, witch for a Halloween Party. Play a friendly variation of the old favorite musical chairs.
Instead of pulling chairs from the circle have enough chairs for each child, but decorate one special chair and whoever ends up in that chair receives a special treat. If you don’t have enough chairs, just make paper “spots” on the floor and make a special spot.
Have children sit in a circle and pass one favor bag until the music stops. The child holding the favor bag when the music stops keeps it and steps inside or outside the circle. The game is repeated until every child has a favor bag.
For a birthday party have children sit in a circle and pass gifts until the music stops. The birthday child opens the gift he/she is holding when the music stops. Play Simon Says, but change Simon to a name that fits your theme.
Outdoor Ball Games
Giant-size exercise balls make for fun soccer style games. Large rubber balls with handles (children sit and bounce on them) can be used for relay races.
Play dodge ball with a soft ball (beach balls work well, basketballs do not!).