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Kids' Party Games Without The Tears

kids at a birthday partyForward planning is always a key phrase, but aside from the more obvious areas such as time, place, food and theme, the type of party games that are played is often paramount to the success of a kids' birthday party.

One of the best pieces of advice that I ever received when I was planning one of my children's parties, was to take time to speak to the parents of each of the invitees in order to identify their child's strengths and weaknesses. This means that through party play, each child could be given a chance to demonstrate their particular talent, whether it be memory, concentration, co-ordination, singing, counting etc.

It also means that the number of tears shed would be minimised, that no child would feel eliminated and that everyone would win a prize.

Some of the more creative kids party games I have come across include variations of the Memory Game, Toy Walk, Through the Hole, Chain and Telephone.

When selecting a theme or devising party games, it is important not only to take the child's age into account but, where possible, to identify the dominant interests of the invitees.

So, at what point in the party do you play the games? This is very much down to personal choice, but as a general rule, it is a good idea to begin playing games after the initial arrival and present-opening session. This means that the children will have burnt off some energy before party food time, hopefully ensuring that there will not be too many fidgety bottoms and hyperactivity during the eating period!

As the party draws to a close is the time to introduce some quieter games, or even a story time, when the party bags can be handed out and the children have time to calm down before their parents arrive to collect them.

Finally, plan more games than you expect to use to avoid running out of activities before the party is over and always make sure that you purchase more prizes and party bags than you think you will need!

The Party Games:

Memory Game: Place a number of objects on a tray (usually higher than the number of children present) and cover with a cloth. Once all the children are sat in a circle, remove the cloth for a period of time, say one minute, and ask the children to try and memories all the objects on the tray. Replace the cloth and then, in turn, ask each child to name an object on the tray within a time frame of about 10 seconds. When a child fails to name an object, they are out of the game. The game continues until either all the objects are named or until there is one child left in the game, if not all the objects have been named. Obviously, any children remaining at the end of the game are winners.

colorful toysToy Walk: Place raffle tickets on several small toys or other prizes, but keep these hidden from the children. On large pieces of card, or thick paper, write several numbers, including those corresponding to the raffle ticket numbers and lay them out in a random pattern on the floor. Play some music and ask the children to walk or dance around the numbers, taking care not to step on them. When the music stops, each child should stand on the number closest to them. If the number they are standing on corresponds to one of the numbers on a prize, they win that prize.

Through the Hole: This preparation for this game can be time consuming, but is well worth the effort. Depending on the theme of the party, cut out a head shape (for example, Elmo). Color it as required, and then cut out a hole where its mouth is. Using softballs, or homemade beanbags filled with pasta, the children take turns to throw the balls/bags into the mouth. Obviously, the one who gets most objects through the mouth is the winner. For older children, you can vary the shape and size of the objects thrown to make it a bit more difficult.

colorful paper clipsChain: This is a very simple game, but one that children love and which also develops dexterity and concentration skills. Fill several containers (plastic food storage containers are ideal) with paper clips. Put on some music and ask the children to start making a chain each from the paper clips. When the music stops, the child who has made the longest chain wins.

Telephone: This traditional game is fabulous for enhancing listening and verbal communication skills. The children sit in a circle and an adult whispers a phrase or sentence into the ear of a child, so that none of the other children can hear. That child then whispers the phrase into the ear of the next child and so on. When the final child in the circle has heard the phrase, he or she repeats out loud what they have heard. This game can have hilarious consequences.



Need more ideas? The following are all available at a discounted price at

Kid-Tastic Birthday Parties - The Complete Party Planner for Today's Kids by Jane Chase

The Children's Party Handbook - Fantasy, Food and Fun by Alison Boteler

Birthday Parties for Kids - Creative Party ideas Your Kids and Their Friends Will Love by Penny Warner

Kids' party Games and Activities - Hundreds of Exciting Things to Do at Parties for Kids 2-12 by Penny Warner and Kathy Rogers

The Kids' Pick-A-Party Book: 50 Fun Party Themes for Kids Ages 2-16 by Penny Warner and Liya Lev Oertel

About the Author...
Jan Andersen, Swindon, Wiltshire, England freelance writer and mother of four children.

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