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Classic Children's Birthday Party Games—Fun Indoors and Outdoors

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Anyone who's hosted a children's birthday party knows that the kids are always game for fun activities. With this thought in mind, we've put together a selection of indoor and outdoor games that are sure to be “it” at your child's next party!

Indoor Fun

  1. Hot Potato

    Have the kids form a circle with a leader sitting in the middle. With his or her eyes closed, the leader tosses the “hot potato” (a ball or similar object) to someone in the circle. The person who catches the hot potato must pass it around quickly, from one person to the next. When the leader randomly calls the words “hot potato,” the person left holding the object must leave the circle. The game then continues in the same fashion until only one person is left. That person is, of course, the winner.

  2. Surprise Package

    This game involves some preparation beforehand. Before the party, place a “grand prize” of some sort in a box, and then wrap it. Place that wrapped box inside a series of other wrapped boxes (all of which contain some small gift). The players sit in a circle and begin passing around the gift as music plays in the background. When the music stops, the person holding the box opens it and keeps the gift inside. That person then leaves the circle, and the game begins again. The winner is the one who un-wraps the grand prize.

  3. Sock Mania

    In this game, the children compete against one another, two players at a time. Have the kids sit on the floor, and then place a giant pile of socks between them. The kids will race to see who can put the most pair of socks on their feet in a single minute. Allow each player to have one pair of socks at the ready, and then blindfold them before they begin. Count the number of socks after the minute is up, and then begin the next race. Winners can ultimately play against one another to determine who wins the grand prize.

  4. Snatch!

    Here's a game the kids are certain to remember! Arrange a variety of miscellaneous objects on a table and allow the children to stare at the display for exactly one minute. Ask one child to close their eyes and turn around—then choose a different child to “snatch” one of the objects away from the table and hide it. The first child will then open his or her eyes and try to guess which item was snatched and who took it. The player has three guesses before the game continues, with the person who snatched the item acting as the guesser in the next round.

  5. Roll Race

    Divide the kids into two teams, and give each team two rolls of toilet paper. Each team chooses a “mummy” and then they race to see who can wrap their mummy the fastest from head to toe. Because toilet paper rips easily, teams may have to start over at certain points, making the game all the more challenging. A variation on this game would be to call it a “fashion contest,” with each team competing to complete the most creative outfit using only toilet tissue.

  6. Human Twister

    Ask the kids to form a circle, facing one another. All of the players then extend their hands inward, grabbing someone else's hands. The goal is then for the group to “untangle” itself without ever letting go of one another's hands. The players may turn, twist, and step over one another as necessary, but they must ultimately work together in order to set themselves free. This game is truly twisted!

  7. Cake Quilt

    Bake a sheet cake in advance of the party, and then cut the cake into equal squares, ensuring that there is one for each guest. When the children arrive, give each guest a piece of cake and a collection of items to decorate them with (icing, sprinkles, etc.). When they have finished, put all of the cake squares back together and see what a beautiful quilt they've made! Each child will have the opportunity to reclaim his or her masterpiece once the guest of honor has made a wish and blown out the candles.

Outdoor Fun

  1. Blob Tag

    This one's an oldie, but a goodie. As always, the game begins by identifying the player who is “it.” When that person tags another player, the two become “stuck” together. The resulting “Blob” runs around, tagging other players and adding them to their blob. Once the blob is made of four people, it splits into two separate blobs that begin chasing the others. The game continues until the last person is caught.

  2. Obstacle Course

    Use your imagination and your existing outdoor furniture to turn your backyard into an obstacle course. Set up chairs that the kids have to crawl through. Lay out some old tires and inner tubes for them step in, and have them ride tricycles through the sandbox! Divide the players into teams, and have them compete for the best time. For an added challenge, have the kids attempt to complete the course with an apple on their head or while holding an egg on a spoon!

  3. Balloon Burst, Toss, or Stomp

    For the Balloon Burst, you will first need a very sunny day. Inflate enough balloons for every guest at your party and attach them to the side of an outdoor fence before the party begins. Give each player a magnifying glass and have him or her hold their magnifying glasses about three inches above the balloons (so a bright dot appears on the balloon). The first person to pop a balloon wins! For the Balloon Toss, you will need to fill the balloons with water beforehand. Ask the kids to choose a partner, and then give each pair a single water balloon. The teams toss the balloon back and fourth, taking a step backwards each time a player catches it. The winner is the team who has the greatest distance between them when the balloon finally breaks. (Ask the kids to bring a change of clothes to the party beforehand.) And finally, for the Balloon Stomp, you will once again need to inflate several balloons before the party, tying a rubber band to the end of each one. Each player will put a balloon around his or her ankle, then walk around the yard trying to stomp on the other players' balloons. The winner is the person who still has their balloon around their ankle at the end of the game.

  4. Flour Tag

    This game works best if you ask the players to wear dark t-shirts to the party. Start by giving each player a nylon that is filled with flour and tied on the end. The group plays tag as normal, with the players knocking one another “out” by throwing the flour bombs throughout the game. When someone is hit, he or she must go to “jail” and clean their shirts with a wet rag before reentering the game. Flour sacks can also be used to play a variation of Capture the Flag.

  5. Ice Breaker

    This game involves some advanced preparation, but the fun will be well worth it! Gather a collection of empty milk cartons or similar containers ahead of time, fill them halfway with colored water, and then stick them in the freezer. Before the ice is completely set, drop a collection of small plastic toys into the containers and fill them the rest of the way with colored water. Give each child a colored brick at the party, and you will see how much fun they have chipping away at the ice to find their very own buried treasure!

ID: 300
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