10 Classic Games You Need For An Awesome Kids’ Party

by Ann Mifsud

children go around playing musical chairs outside picture id507985485

Planning a special party for your little one and friends? Wondering how you can turn it into a blast and a memorable party for all? Choosing the right kids’ party games is crucial!

Some of the best and most well-loved party games for children are: Musical Chairs, Duck Duck Goose, Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Scavenger Hunt, Simon Says, Grandma’s Footsteps, Pass the Parcel, Potato Race, Balloon Stomp and Memory Tray.

In selecting the best 10, tried and tested, classic party games for kids, we’ve been attentive to choose games that are suitable for most ages and that require minimal preparation from your end.

Together with the list of our top 10 recommended games for kid’s parties, you’ll be provided with all the help you need to prepare each game, with step-by-step instructions and some safety tips that will guarantee an unforgettable time for your guests, putting less stress on you!

1. Musical Chairs

Preparation

    • Lay out the chairs in a circle, with the seats facing outwards. Ask the kids to spread out evenly around the chairs.
    • The number of chairs must be one less than the total of participants.
    • Prepare some upbeat music or choose the track below. Random stops are included.

How to play “Musical Chairs”

    • Play the music while all the kids walk around the chairs, behind each other, all in the same direction.
    • As soon as you stop the music, everyone has to sit down on a chair. Remember: If using the above tracks, you don’t need to pause them as they have auto-stops.
    • The child who doesn’t manage to find an empty chair is out.
    • Remove one of the chairs. Continue with the music until another stop, when another kid is eliminated.
    • Keep removing chairs and elimanting a kid until only one child remains.
    • You have a winner!

Other tips

    • Before you start the game, instruct the children in which direction they should go. Since “clockwise” and “anti-clockwise” may be confused by little ones, make sure that they are all facing in the same direction before you start the music. When the music starts, just tell to proceed forward.
    • If doing multiple rounds of this game, make sure that it is not always the same kid who gets chucked out first. If you forsee this, you can pause the music as soon as this child walks in front of an empty chair. Keep this trick up your sleeve whenever needed.

2. Duck, Duck, Goose

Preparation

    • Choose one of the children to be the “fox”.
    • Ask the remaining kids to sit down on the floor, forming a big circle. You may help them do this by asking them to hold hands forming a circle, stretch out, then let go of each other’s hands and sit down.
    • Explain that the fox will be tagging the children during the game. Insist that this is done by gently touching the person “like butterfly wings on the shoulder”.

How to play “Duck, Duck, Goose”

    • Ask the “fox” to walk around the circle, behind the kids, lightly touching each one as he or she passes past, whilst calling “duck” with every touch.
    • The “fox” secretly decides on a kid and calls out “goose” instead of “duck” upon touching that child.
    • As soon as the “fox” says “goose”, the child who has been touched, is to stand up, run after the “fox” and try to tag him or her.
    • Simultaneously, the “fox” flees from the “goose” by running around the circle, trying to reach the place and sit down where the “goose” was sitting before he or she was tagged.
    • If the “fox” is caught before he manages to sit down, he moves to the middle of the circle, which is called the “cooking pot”.
    • The “goose” will in turn become the new “fox” and another round is played.
    • Decide how long the children will stay in the cooking pot, say until 5 of them are caught.
    • Repeat the game should you wish.

A further tip

    • You can adapt this game to the theme chosen for the party. So instead of “Duck, duck, goose”, it could be “Rubble, Rubble, Ryder” if you have a Paw Patrol-themed party. In this case, instead of going into the cooking pot when a child is tagged, he or she will go to “The Lookout”. With a bit of creativity, this game can be adapted to any theme really. For a Disney Frozen-themed party, you could call out, “Elsa, Elsa, Olaf”. When a kid is tagged, he or she goes to “Arendelle Castle”.

3. Pin the Tail on the Donkey

Preparation

    • Hang a poster featuring a donkey to a wall or door at child-height so that all kids can reach it easily.
    • Have a blindfold (a scarf will do if you don’t have a proper blindfold) and a donkey’s tail and a piece of chalk at the ready.
    • Ask the children to stay a few feet away from the poster.
    • You can get a full game kit here.

How to play “Pin The Tail On The Donkey”

    • Blindfold a child at a time. It is a good idea to choose the party kid to go first. Alternatively, start with the eldest in the group, since he or she will most likely be more familiar with the game.
    • Gently turn the blindfolded child round in circles a couple of times. Stop him or her, making sure he or she hasn’t lost their balance.
    • Lead the kid so that he or she is standing right in front of the poster.
    • Place the donkey’s tail in the child’s hand.
    • The kid should try to stick the tail to the poster in what he or she thinks is the right spot.
    • Remove the blindfold.
    • Using chalk, draw a tiny circle with the child’s initials where he or she has attached the tail.
    • Remove the tail from the poster and have the rest of the children try their turn.
    • When everybody’s done, declare the kid who pinned the tail closest to where it should be, as the winner!

Other ideas

    • This game is loved by all kids and can be easily adapted to any party theme of choice. You can pin the nose on Olaf, put the hat on Bob the Builder, place the crown on the princess, put the fin on Baby Shark and so on.
    • You may also ask the party child to come up with an idea for the poster in advance – you might just be surprised with their creative imagination!
    • You could also involve an older sibling by asking him or her to be the one to mark the initials during the game.
    • It may be safer for younger children to use sticky-tack (or even sticky-tape) to attach the “tail”.
    • You can also buy ready made Pin the Tail on the Donkey kits.

4. Scavenger Hunt

Preparation

    • Draw up a list of specific items that you know kids can easily find in a pre-defined area.
    • If the hunt is going to take place indoors, your list may include small items like a lego piece, a straw, a napkin, a ball, or anything that you know is available.
    • Pump up the kids’ creativity by opting for a generic type of list like, something blue, something faster than a snail, something soft, something that makes noise or has a smell, something shiny or something that begins with the first letter of the party child’s name.
    • If you plan on holding the game in your backyard, the list may vary from a seed to a rock, from a flower to a stick, from different types of grass to leaves from different trees. Just look around you and the list could be endless!

How to play “Scavenger Hunt”

    • Decide if the kids are going to play in teams or as individuals.
    • You would need a pen or pencil plus your pre-prepared list on a sheet of paper for every team or child.
    • One easy and fast way to divide kids in teams, is to assign each child a number. Start from 1 till the number of groups you want to have, then start all over again. So, say you need four groups, looking at every child one by one, you say 1, 2, 3, 4, then 1,2,3,4 and so on, until all kids have a number. Tell them to remember their number and group up together according to the given number. This way all the ones play together against all the twos, the threes and the fours.
    • The team or child who first finds all the items is the winner.

Other tips

    • Safety is of utmost importance, so do make sure to define the area where the kids can find the items on the list and that they have understood all your instructions.
    • You may also want to set a time limit, especially if you don’t want the game to take too long. This avoids things getting out of hand.

5. Simon Says

Preparation

    • Come up with some fun and creative instructions you think kids would “love” to obey, like, “Tickle your tummy” or “Wiggle your ears”.
    • Ask all players to stand in a line, next to each other, facing you.

How to play “Simon Says”

    • Tell the kids participating in this game that you are “Simon” and that you are going to be giving them specific instructions which they must obey, in the manner of “Simon says…, touch your nose”, for example.
    • It is very important to point out that they are to obey only those instructions that begin with the phrase “Simon says…”
    • So if the leader says “Touch your nose,” without first saying, “Simon says,” the children must not touch the floor.
    • Those that do touch the floor are eliminated.
    • Start the game and when all the players are eliminated, the kid that remains is declared winner!

Some more help

    • You can ask the children to take turns at being “Simon”, or you can decide that the winner of a particular round will become the next “Simon”.
    • The leader’s role is also to try to trick the players to follow his or her directions when they shouldn’t.
    • If you have a themed party, you may also want use the name of character from the chosen theme instead of “Simon”. In a Disney Frozen-themed party, call out “Elsa says…”. In a Paw Patrol-themed party, call out  “Ryder says…” and so on.
    • To make it easier for you, we have prepared 50 funny “Simon says…” statements for you to use.

Simon says... 1 to 10

  • Simon says rub your ear
  • Simon says pull your nose
  • Simon says tickle your feet
  • Simon says stand on one leg
  • Simon says play the violin
  • Simon says cry like a baby
  • Simon says wink your right eye
  • Simon says bark like a dog
  • Simon says read a book
  • Simon says walk sideways

Simon says... 11 to 20

  • Simon says hug yourself
  • Simon says tickle a friend
  • Simon says pull your face
  • Simon says hands across
  • Simon says rub your hands
  • Simon says talk like a baby
  • Simon says kiss your elbow
  • Simon says touch your forehead with your knee
  • Simon says act like a cat
  • Simon says write your name in the air

Simon says... 21 to 30

  • Simon says stretch yourself
  • Simon says pretend you’re a flower
  • Simon says fly like a bird
  • Simon says clap your hands
  • Simon says throw a kiss
  • Simon says climb a ladder
  • Simon says crouch down like a ball
  • Simon says stand like Superman
  • Simon says brush your teeth
  • Simon says jump like a frog

Simon says... 31 to 40

  • Simon says pretend to sneeze
  • Simon says laugh like Santa
  • Simon says stick out your tongue
  • Simon says sing your favorite song
  • Simon says walk like a robot
  • Simon says pretend to feel cold
  • Simon says shake a magic wand
  • Simon says whisper a secret
  • Simon says beep a horn
  • Simon says sweep with a broom

Simon says... 41 to 50

  • Simon says walk like an old lady
  • Simon says swim like a fish
  • Simon says open a jam jar
  • Simon says do a funny dance
  • Simon says move your left hand in slow motion
  • Simon says lie on your back
  • Simon says put yourself to sleep
  • Simon says walk on your knees
  • Simon says waddle like duck
  • Simon says squat and raise your hands as high as you can

6. Grandma’s Footsteps

Preparation

    • There’s really nothing to prepare for this game. Just ask the kids to line up, next to each other, at one end of the room or yard, facing you. Give them the following instructions.

How to play “Grandma’s Footsteps”

    • Let the kids that you are going to be grandma (or grandpa if you prefer).
    • Place yourself at the other end of the area you’ll be using with your back turned to the kids.
    • Upon starting the game, the children have to attempt to sneak up on “grandma” without being seen or heard.
    • At any given time throughout the game, “grandma” turns around to face the kids.
    • When she does, all children must freeze.
    • Any player who is seen moving is sent back to the starting line.
    • “Grandma” turns back and the children continue sneaking up.
    • Whoever gets to tap grandma’s shoulder first wins and takes grandma’s role for the next round.

Other tips

    • If you are playing this game during a themed party, get creative by using the name of a character related to your party theme. Instead of trying to sneak up on grandma, kids can do so on Elsa, Ryder, Woody, Moana and all the characters you can think of.
    • Be attentive not to have the same kid sent back to the starting line over and over again. Be lenient if you must, as some children, especially younger ones, may find it difficult to freeze.

7. Pass The Parcel

Preparation

    • This one takes a bit of preparation, but when you see what a hit it can be with most kids, it really makes all the effort worth it.
    • Before the party, buy some small gifts or favors (whistles, key-chains, themed stationery, sticker sheets, bracelets, chocolates, etc…). Get your hands on a good amount of wrapping paper (recycled wrapping paper would do) and sticky tape.
    • Wrap the first gift in a layer of wrapping paper. Choose your best gift for this one as this will be the winner’s gift.
    • Then, wrap it in another layer, inserting another gift in the second layer.
    • Repeat this step multiple times. Ideally you should have as many layers as the number of children you have invited to the party. This ensures that every kid will get a gift during this game.
    • Prepare some upbeat music of your choice or use the track we have already provided with random stops, under “Musical Chairs” above.

How to play “Pass The Parcel”

    • Ask the kids to form a big circle and then sit down.
    • As the music starts playing, the children pass the wrapped parcel to the kid sitting next to them around the circle. You may want to start from the party kid.
    • When the music stops, the child holding the parcel removes the outer layer of paper and keeps the small gift found in that layer.
    • As the music continues, the parcel is passed on to the next person and so on. The game ends when the last layer of wrapping is removed.

Other tips

    • To make sure that every kid gets a treat, opt to manually control when the music is stopped, instead of using an auto-stop track. This way, you can make sure everyone gets a turn at opening the parcel. Don’t forget to keep a mental record of who’s had a treat and who hasn’t.
    • Alternatively, it may be easier to have the kids who get a favor move out of the circle once they’ve had their turn.
    • With older kids, add on to the challenge by using a lot of sticky tape and plastic wrap. Tell them they have to pass on the parcel if the music starts playing, even if they wouldn’t have managed to open up that layer.
    • You can play this game when you want to wind the kids down or end games’ time at a kids’ party.
    • One option that takes less preparation is to use a lunch box with a zipper instead of wrapping up the parcel. Fill the lunch box up with treats and you’re ready to go. The children then open the zipper, take a treat, close it and pass on. This alternative, though very convenient, does lessen the excitement kids get from unwrapping a mysterious parcel.
    • If your budget allows it and you want to opt for convenience, consider buying a readily available Pass the Parcel Game Kit.

8. Potato Race

Preparation

    • Prepare a potato and a spoon according to the number of invitees at your kid’s party.
    • Select potatoes that sit well on the spoons and that are approximately of the same size.
multiracial group of children in an egg spoon race picture id487443782

How to play “Potato Race”

    • Ask the kids to stand in a line, next to each other, facing you. Get them ready to start the race by holding the spoon with the potato on it.
    • Tell them they are only allowed to hold the spoon and should not touch the potato with their hands at any time during the race.
    • On “go”, the children race to the pre-determined finish line. Their aim is to get there without dropping the potato.
    • If someone drops their potato, they must stop, pick up the potato and put it back on their spoon, before going any further.
    • If you want to make it a bit more challenging, send kids who would have dropped the potato back to the starting line.
    • The first kid to reach the finish line wins the race.

More ideas

    • Instead of potatoes you can use hard-boiled eggs or anything you may find around the house that fits on a spoon.
    • If you don’t mind the mess and the party is outdoors, have the kids use raw eggs instead. Make sure you have extras to go round.
    • If space is a limitation, organize the children to race in relay format. For this, kids would need to be divided into at least two teams. Make sure each team has between 4-6 players. You would want to avoid having teams that are too large to avoid unnecessary waiting time.
    • If your invitees are very young, help them out by putting some sticky tack on the spoon to keep the potato from falling off.
    • With older kids, consider placing some obstacles along the race path.
    • To make the potato race even more challenging, instruct the kids to hold the spoons in their mouth.

9. Balloon Stomp

Preparation

    • Prepare as many inflated balloons as the number of children taking part in this game.
    • Attach a 2-feet string to each balloon and give one to each kid.
    • Ask them to tie the balloon to their ankle. Little ones may need some help tying the balloon securely.
    • Have some upbeat music ready.

How to play “Balloon Stomp”

    • Ask the children to stand near one other but without touching each other.
    • Explain that while the music is playing, they can dance freely, being very careful not to burst anyone’s balloon or even their own.
    • As soon as the music stops, they must try to burst someone else’s balloon, by stomping on it.  They also must be on the alert not to let anyone stomp theirs.
    • The kids whose balloons burst are eliminated.
    • The winner is the remaining kid with an intact balloon still tied to his or her leg.

Further tips

    • Before you start the game, emphasize that no one should play rough, so as to prevent accidents.
    • Use large balloons and inflate them to half their capacity to make it a bit harder for the kids to burst the balloons.
    • Playing the game on soft sand or grass also takes more effort to pop the balloon than if it were played on concrete or tiled flooring.
    • Make the game more challenging by tying two (or more) balloons to both ankles.
    • You may also play this game in teams by sorting kids in groups. Assign a balloon color to each group.
    • Each group’s mission is to pop everybody else’s balloons except those from their own team color.
    • With older kids, you may even skip having the balloons readily inflated and ask them to blow up their own balloons instead.

10. Memory Tray

Preparation

    • Choose a number of interesting small objects from around the house. Around 10 would suffice with younger kids, but consider up to 30 with older ones.
    • Your chosen objects could include playing cards, mini toy cars, keychains, keys, fancy pens, magnets, buttons, bottle caps, marbles, coins, paper clips and the like.
    • Place them all on a sizeable tray.

How to play “Memory Tray”

    • Place the objects on a tray and cover with a cloth.
    • Ask the kids to gather around the tray, uncover it and give them 30 seconds to study the objects.
    • Instruct the children that they have to memorize what’s in the tray. You may hint that they can do this by remembering the number of objects, taking note of their color, shape, different sizes and so on.
    • When the 30 seconds are up, ask the kids to turn around and close their eyes.
    • Remove one of the objects and hide it. Make sure you would have thought of a good hiding spot as kids are sneaky.
    • Ask the kids to open their eyes and face you.
    • Ask if anyone could tell which is the missing object.
    • The child who gives a right answer will be the one whose turn it will be to hide the next object.
    • Repeat this step until everybody would have had their turn.
    • You could decide to put hidden objects back in the tray, at any point in the game, should you wish to.

Other tips

    • This is a non-competitive game which is perfect for closing off games’ time, with the intent of calming children down.
    • You can use a shallow box instead of a tray, should you wish to.
    • Alternatively, you can put the objects on a table, instead of using a tray or a box.

10 Classic Party Games Quick Checklist

Classic Game

Required Equipment

Intensity Level

Musical Chairs

Music player
Chairs

3/5

Duck Duck Goose

No equipment required

3/5

Pin The Tail On The Donkey

Donkey poster

Chalk
Blindfold

"Donkey tail"

2/5

Scavenger Hunt

List sheets
Pens

4/5

Simon Says

No equipment required

3/5

Grandma's Footsteps

No equipment required

2/5

Pass The Parcel

Small gifts
Wrapping paper
Sticky tape
Music

1/5

Potato Race

Potatoes
Spoons

4/5

Balloon Stomp

Balloons
Strings (2ft/60cm)

5/5

Memory Tray

Tray
Cloth
Small toys

1/5

Further Tips And Concluding Thoughts About Classic Party Games

If you are looking for ideas on what games to prepare for your kid’s next party, this article is the perfect guide. Read through the details of 10 of the most popular classic kids’ games of all time.

From Musical Chairs, to Duck, Duck Goose, Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Scavenger Hunt, Simon Says, Grandma’s Footsteps, Pass the Parcel, Potato Race, Balloon Stomp and Memory Tray, you are sure to find them all. Details include all the necessary equipment you will need, step-by-step instructions on how to play each game, intensity levels, as well as extra tips and ideas to make games’ time at your kid’s party a blast!

So look no further. Get ready to plan and enjoy games’ time, whilst taking note of the following leads for success.

1. Make games fun by keeping them simple! Though most games can be adapted to suit particular needs, adding on unnecessary rules will complicate matters, particularly if your invitees are very young.

2. Prevent accidents! Make sure that all children know what they ought to do before starting each game. Kids should be told that rough play is not allowed, especially in games involving tagging or touching opponents.

3. Remain alert! Besides being well-prepared, including having a couple of extra games up your sleeve, be mindful not to prolong any activity unnecessarily, especially if kids get tired. Offer water breaks.

4. Keep watch of the time! When kids are having fun, it’s easy to get pressed for time. Allow ample time for your guests to enjoy the lovely food you would have prepared. Finally, make sure you warrant enough time to relish the cutting of the cake!

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Hi I'm Ann Mifsud!

Hi I'm Ann Mifsud!

Co-Founder, Editor & Writer

For most of us, when we think back on our childhood, it seems like it lasted a little more than a few minutes. We relish the beautiful memories we had, our many ‘firsts’ and countless adventures. And of course, we think of those occasions where we were given centre-stage or somehow felt extra special.

 

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