25 Party Games for Kids
Wondering how you can keep kiddos entertained at a party? Have no fear; here are 25 party games that can be adapted to match a variety of party themes.
Toddlers (Ages 0-5)
Toddlers are still growing and learning new skills, so plan easy activities that will hold their attention, engage all of their senses and allow them to explore new materials.
- Bubbles - No doubt this age group loves bubbles. Talk about a super simple, affordable good time for toddlers! Just have a few adults sit around a large enough area for all of the kids to play without running into each other. Put on some fun kid-friendly music and have everyone blow bubbles. The toddlers will race around trying to pop them all.
- Mural Design - Put a huge roll of paper down with all types of crayons, stamps and more, and have all the kids work together to design a large mural that you can display at the end.
- Sandbox - Get a small kiddie pool, fill it with soft sand, put in construction vehicles, sand toys, scoopers, etc., and let kids play on their own.
- Water Table - Fill up a water table, shallow kids pool, or similar container with water and some bubble bath. Then, put in something for them to play with — such as little objects they can try to scoop out, boats they can push around or a set of animal figurines they can try to get clean. Be sure to supervise the toddlers at all times!
- Obstacle Course - Design a fun, easy obstacle course around a large room or in an outside space. Offer different activities for kids to do as they move around the yard, such as crawling over something and then under something. Incorporate lots of movement appropriate for a younger age group and watch them all have fun!
- Shaving Cream Art - Use unscented shaving cream on a large surface area, such as a small outdoor table, add a few drops of food coloring, and let the toddlers make designs. Incorporate various tools, such as small spatulas, shapes, popsicle sticks, etc., and let kids go to town. If using food coloring, be sure the surface won't absorb the color!
- Swat the Fly - Split kids into two groups. One group gets a string attached to a small paper plate that has a picture of a fly on it. The other group gets soft pool noodles. Tell the "flies" to run as the pool noodle group tries to swat their paper plates! Any toddler who swats the fly successfully trades with the fly and becomes the fly themselves.
- Super Play-Doh Station - Buy or make your own large batch of Play-Doh. If homemade you can add food coloring, sparkles and more to customize the Play-Doh to match your party theme. Then, put it all out on a large surface, add soft cookie cutters, scoopers, kid-sized cooking tools and more to create a super Play-Doh station that all the toddlers will love.
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Elementary School Kids (Ages 6-12)
This age group might be the easiest to plan party games for. They have tons of energy, are usually agreeable to new activities and haven't quite developed a high-level of self-consciousness yet. Enjoy these special years with activities that will encourage them to play together and have fun.
- Musical Statues - Choose a large area for all of the kids to move comfortably. Put on loud music from their favorite bands and have them dance or pose as long as the music is on. As soon as the music is stopped, they must freeze! Anyone who moves or falls has to sit out a round. Or, you can play until there is only one statue remaining!
- Scavenger Hunt - There are so many ways to have a scavenger hunt. You can have kids find a list of items in a downtown area, a shopping mall, a neighborhood or just around the house and yard. You can plant certain objects for them to find and check off a list, or you can create a list designed around specific stores and objects. If going outside, put kids in groups so no one is alone, and consider giving prizes to the first team to finish!
- Treasure Hunt - Create a treasure map where X marks the spot! First, make sure the treasure is something worth finding. Then consider having a variety of maps, so several groups of kids can hunt simultaneously.
- Water Fight - Water balloons, water tables, water fights — they're all a blast!
- Nerf Battle - Stock up on Nerf guns and a ton of ammo and let kids have their own battle in your backyard! Build forts and turn tables on their sides to build fortresses. Create your own rules or just let the kids play! Genius Tip: make sure all of the Nerf guns use the same time of ammo.
- Hanging Donuts - This hilarious game is a play on the bobbing for apples classic. Instead of apples in water, you hang donuts on strings from a tree or other high point so that the donuts hang just high enough where kids have to jump a little. Have them pick a donut and try to eat the whole thing off the string — no hands allowed!
- Sardines - Hide and seek with a twist. In this game, when you find the person hiding, you hide with them until the last one left is "it."
- Straw Race - Get a bunch of straws and cotton balls and set kids up on one side of a long table. The goal is to see who can blow their cotton ball across the table first using only their straw!
- Art Studio - Set up your own art studio and unleash the Picasso in every child. Whether you have long sheets of paper with tons of art supplies or you pick up canvases and create paint palettes for each kid, you'll love seeing what every kid creates. Bonus: their art becomes their party favor!
- Balloon Pop - Blow up a ton of balloons and put them out on a flat grassy or padded area where the ground is soft (in case they fall). Have kids run around trying to pop all of the balloons. Get your cameras ready, because this game is hilarious.
- Find the Gummy Bears - We all remember the pie-eating contest at every county fair. Well, with some gummy bears and whipped cream, you'll have your own version for today's kids. Put plates piled high with whipped cream and gummy bears at the bottom and have kids hunt for the gummy bears only using their mouths! First kid to eat all their gummy bears wins, although all kids will enjoy this fun treat.
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Pre-Teens & Teens (Ages 12-18)
Some say pre-teens and teenagers are hard to entertain when actually, you just need to think like they do! If they love technology, TV and taking pictures of themselves, you can use all of these things to create party games they will engage with and enjoy.
- TP Runway - Break the teens into small groups of 3-5 and give each group a pack of toilet paper. Tell them to designate one person as the "model" and the rest of the group has to make an outfit out of the toilet paper for the model to wear down the runway. The group that makes an outfit that is most attractive, covers the model, and survives the runway wins! You can give this a theme, too, such as all outfits need to be prom dresses or be based on a character from the party theme.
- T.V. Stars - Have groups break up and write a short sketch that they will act out. Get out all of your old Halloween costumes, wigs and any type of clothes that would work for dress-up. You can even ask some friends to bring their stash, too, to create a big pile of costumes. Make sure to have a photo op for the stars where adults act like paparazzi before they go onstage to showcase their plays.
- Selfie Scavenger Hunt - Similar to the many ways to play a scavenger hunt above, except this time, they must take a fun selfie at each location. So, if they find the restaurant with the award-winning pizza, they document it with a fun group selfie. Share all of the photos on a big TV later while having snacks and laughing.
- Capture the Flag - We all know the game and there's a reason it's a fan favorite. Capture the Flag is so much fun for teens who are starting to understand strategy. Play it at night with glow-in-the-dark flags for even more fun.
- Wink Assassin - Another big hit game (pardon the pun). In this one, have enough slips of paper for everyone in the group, but only one has an M written on it. That person becomes the murderer. Have teens roam about, keeping an eye on each other. Then, whenever the murderer winks at someone, that person has to "die" or collapse on to the ground. The group must work together to catch the wink assassin before they wink again.
- Murder Mystery - Short, free versions of murder mystery plays are easy to find online, or you can buy a more comprehensive game that will last all night. While these require a bit more planning, they are well worth the effort and turn into a memorable good time for all.
Be willing to try something new, reinvent an old classic or let your kids take the wheel and make changes as they go. The most important thing is that you create memories for their special day that will last long after the party.
Erica Jabali is a freelance writer and blogs over at ispyfabulous.com.