You’ll find the majority of party games for kids are most common when a child turns five. However, the majority of these games are adaptable and suitable for toddlers or older children as well. With some preparation and imagination, you can adapt just about any game to suit the theme of your child’s party.
While it’s common to think cake and presents are the main attraction of your child’s party, that doesn’t mean you should be planning for only those two things. Make sure you’re keeping every guest entertained by planning games that are easy to set up and engaging. If the children in attendance are young, avoid competitive games. Instead, look for fun, age-appropriate activities.
Top 11 Party Games for Kids
1. Bubble Wrap Race
Before you know it, every party-goer will be giggling with excitement. These types of party games for kids are appropriate for children three years old and up. Planning for this party game involves purchasing a large roll of bubble wrap and some small prizes. In an open space, like your yard, for example, lay a five-foot piece of the bubbles on the ground or your floor.
Ask all the children to take off their shoes and socks. Then, one at a time, have them walk across the bubble wrap in their bare feet. The object of this game is for each guest to walk across the bubble wrap without popping any. Have a selection of small prizes to give to everyone who makes it across without making a single pop.
If this is a game for older children, consider making it more competitive. Line up three or four sections of bubble wrap. Divide everyone up into teams and ask them race to the other side of the bubbles. The team that makes it across without popping any wins.
Because some children don’t like the feel of plastic or sound of the bubbles popping, consider taking them to another area. Play some music throughout the game for the bubble poppers and those who are off to the side. Then, ask the children who are off to the side to dance when the music is playing and stop when it turns off. Those who stop dancing on cue are winners.
2. Pass the Parcel
Here’s a classic that’s appropriate for children ages ten and under. Preparing for this party game involves purchasing a prize that relates to your child’s birthday party theme. You’ll need layers of wrapping paper, recycled paper, or newspaper. Make sure there’s at least one layer for every child attending. When wrapping the parcel, include smaller prizes in each of the layers of the wrapping. That way, there’s a little something for everyone playing.
Playing this game includes having every guest sit in a circle and pass around the parcel while you’re playing party music. When you stop the music, the guest who is holding the package removes a layer of paper and retrieves their prize. Continue playing music until everyone has had a turn, and all the outer sheets of paper are gone. Whoever unwraps the final layer of paper gets the “big” prize in the center of the parcel.
Examples of smaller prizes you can include in each layer include balloons, lollipops, funny sunglasses, key chains, and so on. Examples of the winning gift in the center of the parcel include packages of stickers, temporary tattoos, a variety of candy, and items specific to the theme of your child’s party. Try to make these items different from the ones you’re sending children home with inside goodie bags.
3. Happy Dancers
Children who are ages three and up tend to learn this game when they start attending parties, and it doesn’t take long for it to become a favorite. Planning for this party game involves purchasing some small prizes and picking out music the guest will love dancing to without stopping.
Ask your child and all of their guests to move to the center of a room or designated space outside. Then, ask them to start dancing as soon as you begin playing music. When you stop the music, all the children must sit down quickly. Bring the last child standing to another space where they can continue dancing.
It’s better to move a child to a separate area, instead of eliminating them from the game. That way, everyone can still participate and have fun. Consider awarding “grand prizes” to the last two or three children standing, and “runner-up” prizes to those who you moved to a separate section.
4. Shadow Bluff
Are you planning a Halloween party or one that will take place at night? If so, this is an excellent game for children ages eight and up. Planning for this game involves using an intense light, white sheet, and plenty of space for creating shadows.
Playing this game works best when there are between six and eight players. Hang the sheet from a line or suspend it, so you’re creating a screen. Then, using the intense light or lamp, place it a short distance away. That way, anyone who walks between the light source and sheet will cast a shadow.
Select one child to be “it” and ask them to sit on the floor in front of the sheet. Make sure they’re not casting a shadow on the sheet themselves. Ask the remaining guests to line up and march in a single-file line between the light and the screen.
As each child passes across, the guest who is “it” tries to guess whose shadow they’re seeing. Encourage children to disguise their walk, height, or other features to make the game more challenging. As soon as “it” guesses correctly, then it’s time for that guest to make guesses.
5. Rattle, Shake, and Guess
No matter if you’re planning a holiday or birthday party, this is one of the party games for kids that quickly becomes a favorite. It’s appropriate for children ages four and up, and any number of children can play. Planning for the game involves purchasing one small gift for each child, gift wrap, slips of paper and pencils for every guest, and several small boxes in different sizes.
Place one gift inside each of the boxes without any tissue paper, wrap them up, and write a number on them. Ask all the guests at your child’s party to sit in a circle. Then, place the boxes in its center. Give each guest one slip of paper and a pencil. Pass the gifts around to each guest. The object of this game is for each player to shake or rattle the small wrapped packages and guess what’s inside. They write their guesses on their slips of paper with the corresponding number.
Once all the boxes go around the circle, place them in the center of the group of guests. Starting with the youngest child, invite them to pick and open a gift. All the rest of the guests compare the contents of the box that the child is opening to what they have on the papers to see if they’re correct. If they are, they make a checkmark on their slip of paper. If not, they cross out their guess for that number.
The party guest with the highest number of correct guesses gets a “grand” prize. Examples of small gifts to put into each box include whistles, bouncy balls, rattly puzzles, and so on. Examples of the “grand” prize include items that are specific to your child’s party theme, assortments of candy, bigger puzzles, and so on.
6. Bubble Blowing Contests
If you’re planning a party when there’s typically inclement weather, like rainy or snowy seasons, this is an excellent way for keeping children entertained. This game is appropriate for children of all ages. Planning for it includes creating a bubble mixture or purchasing small bottles of bubbles. You can use a drinking straw or traditional bubble wand for each child to use for bubble blowing.
Consider making this game a contest. For example, you can ask children who can blow a gigantic bubble. Or, you can encourage children to blow the most bubbles during a specific period. Another idea is to determine whose bubbles stay in the air the longest. Otherwise, consider asking each guest to have fun blowing bubbles in a designated area.
If you’d like to make this game a bit more challenging, gather children and give them each a plastic cup and a bottle of bubbles. When they’re blowing bubbles, ask them to see how many they can catch in the plastic container. You could also have an experiment where you see how far each bubble travels before it pops. Or, you can determine how many guests can keep bubbles in the air at the same time.
At the end of the game, have a fresh bottle of bubbles and a wand available for each party guest to take home with them. If you would like to select a “grand prize winner,” consider purchasing a bigger bottle of bubbles or one that features the theme of your child’s party.
7. The Straw Game
Here’s an activity that involves gathering guests into two teams so that they can show off their skills. Preparation for this activity consists of setting up a line of bowls for half the amount of guests at the party and then adding two extra. You’ll also need one plastic straw per guest, plus a few extra. You can play this game with small candies, like M&Ms or smarties. If you prefer not to use candy, you can use small items like buttons, dried beans, and so on.
Divide all guests at the party into two groups. Along the length of a table, line up two rows of bowls on each side. Place the treats or small items into the first bowl of each line, and make sure there’s one for each child. Make sure they’re all touching each other. Because nut allergies are an issue, make sure you’re not choosing any candies that contain them. Place a straw next to each bowl.
Ask each guest to stand in front of a bowl, and there will be one spare at the end of the line. Use music or an “on your mark” signal for everyone to start playing. The object of this game is for guests to transfer treats or items from one bowl to the next. They can use the straws for these transfers, but not their hands. If candy or anything else falls, then the next player starts moving. Once everything transfers into the last bowl, you’ll have a winning team.
Because you’re working with small items, straws, and no hands, this game is challenging and will take some time. It’s appropriate for children ages five and up. A variation of this game is possible if you have an uneven number of children. Instead, use two bowls and ask children to line up. They’ll take turns transferring candy or items from one to the next. As soon as a player drops something, they move to the back of the line, and the next player tries.
8. Balloon Popping Game
If you’re okay with noise and rambunctiousness, introducing this game to party-goers is a no-fail way of having lots of fun. Preparation for this game involves gathering two or three balloons per guest, having small slips of paper to put inside each, and several small prizes.
One each piece of paper, write which prize the child wins. Roll the slip of paper up tightly, and push it through the balloon’s neck before blowing it up. Then, gather all the guests into a designated area. The object of this game is for guests to pop their balloons and reveal their prize.
You can approach this game in a couple of ways. The first way involves asking the children to pop the balloons all at the same time without using sharp objects or their teeth. Another way is to set up chairs and ask children to sit on their balloons over and over until they pop.
If you have concerns regarding keeping track of whose balloon is whose, that’s easy to solve. After you blow up the balloons, tie them to a length of ribbon, string, or yarn. Make sure they’re about twelve to eighteen inches apart, allowing guests to pop them one-by-one. At the end of each length, attach a tag with the guest’s name.
While this game is appropriate for children ages six and up, remember that some don’t like the sound of balloons popping. If you notice any guests feeling this way, take them into a separate space to dance to the music and receive small prizes for stopping when the music stops.
9. Treasure Hunting
If you’re hosting a pirate theme party, this is one of those party games for kids they’ll love. It’s appropriate for children ages three and up, and also works well for parties without a theme. Toward the end of parties, many children become restless. So, this is an excellent way to bring excitement back.
Preparation for this game involves gathering small “treasures” to hide around your home or outdoor area. Examples of these items include Lego pieces, toy soldiers, plastic rings, small wrapped candies, and so on. Start collecting these items early and use your imagination! Use empty goodie bags, small baskets, or party hats for treasure collecting.
Set this game up similar to an egg hunt whereby you’re hiding items in fun places, but still easy to see. That way, if the guests are young, they won’t feel frustrated about not finding anything. Once each child has their container, it’s time for them to begin hunting. Then, help younger guests find their treasure.
Consider assigning an adult or older child to make sure one guest isn’t finding all the treasure. Instead, encourage children to try to find the same amount. For example, if you have six children hunting and put out thirty treasures, each player can find five before stopping. Have a fun party hat available for the first child to gather all their booty.
10. Mystery Box
When you’re waiting for all your guests to arrive, this is an excellent way to entertain those who are already in attendance. Then, as each new guest arrives, they can take a turn playing this game. It’s appropriate for children ages four and up. Preparation for this game includes gathering a variety of objects, a large cardboard box, and a sheet or tablecloth. You’ll also need a small slip of paper and a pencil for each player.
Gathering items can be according to the party’s theme, or entirely at random. Place these objects into the large box and cover it with the sheet or tablecloth. Make sure you don’t overfill the box as five or seven items will do the trick. Examples of these items include a tied up jump rope, Rubix cube, plush toy, bouncy ball, and Lego bricks stuck together. If you’re hosting a party with a theme, then choose your items accordingly.
Hand each guest a slip of paper and pencil, and then ask them to feel inside the box. Then, they can write down whatever they identify. Help younger players by encouraging them to draw the item or by helping them spell what they feel. Once everyone has a turn to identify the objects, uncover the box, and reveal what’s inside. Ask each child to compare what’s in the box with what’s on their papers.
Have a selection of small prizes to award to the guest with the highest number of correct answers, and a couple of “runners-up.” If you want to add a “shock factor” to this game, consider placing a couple of unusual items in the box. These could include a plastic container with slime or plastic spiders. As the children guess what’s inside the box, make sure they’re not saying what they think is inside the box out loud. That way, everyone has a chance to figure it out without giving anything away.
11. Cups Memory Game
Many children love playing the “memory” game, and this is one of the party games for kids with a fun variation. This game is appropriate for children ages four and up, but you can quickly adapt it for older children. For example, older children might enjoy seeing “gag gifts” or other unusual prizes under the cups.
Preparation for this game includes gathering twenty-eight plastic cups that are all the same color and not transparent. You can use the party-themed cups already on-hand so long as you can’t see through them. Then, gather fourteen pairs of treats or prizes that can be random or according to the party’s theme.
Before the party starts, use the backside of one of the plastic tablecloths you’re using and draw a twenty-eight square grid. You can also use a large sheet of paper or a separate “plain” plastic tablecloth. When it’s time to play the game, flip the tablecloth over the reveal the pattern. While the guests aren’t looking or are playing a different game, that’s when it’s time to set fourteen pairs of candies or prizes, each with a cup on top.
When selecting items, they can be small prizes or candy the children can keep when they find a match. Ask guests to look under two cups and, if the items don’t match, they replace the cups. Make sure everyone is watching, so they can keep track of what’s under each cup. Consider having some extra prizes for those who don’t find much.
It’s essential to have a variety of party games for kids available to help with entertainment and amusement. These games can range from those that are quiet to those that involve a lot of excitement. The trick is determining which game to play at which point of the party. For example, if you feel children are getting too wound up, then that’s a good time to introduce a quiet game to them. However, if you notice they’re getting bored or restless, then that’s an excellent time to start playing an exciting game with them.