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Best Ever Children’s Party Games

Organising a children’s birthday party? Then you’re going to need a few handy party games up your sleeve. These tried-and-tested classics are some of our firm favourites.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

 Musical Chairs

Arrange two row of chairs (or cushions) back-to-back down the centre of the room. There should always be one less chair than the number of children playing. When the music starts, the children parade around the chairs, keeping constantly moving – no hovering next to seats allowed! When the music stops, each child must find a chair. The one left standing is out. Carry on taking away one chair each time until there is only one chair, and ultimately one winner left!

The Tray Game

Gather together a selection of small objects (you could use food items or small toys which could double as prizes). Display them on a tray or table. You can vary the number of objects you display to fit with the age of the children. The more objects you put out, the more tricky the game becomes. Let the children have a good look at the objects. Cover them with a towel and get the children to close their eyes, or take the tray away. Remove one of the objects. Ask the children to open their eyes and return the tray, or remove the towel. The first child to identify which object has been removed wins the prize. Repeat, adding new objects if you wish to make it tougher.

The Chocolate Game

Sit the children in a circle on the floor or around a table. Place a large bar of chocolate (it must be the type that can be broken into squares), a dinner knife and fork, a pair of gloves, a scarf and a hat, and a dice in the centre. Each child rolls the dice in turn. The first to roll a six has to put on the hat, scarf and gloves and begin trying to cut off chunks of the chocolate with the knife and fork. Any chocolate they manage to cut off is theirs to eat. Meanwhile, the child to their left is busy rolling the dice. As soon as they have a six, they must shout ‘Six!’ and the child cutting the chocolate must immediately stop, take off the hat, scarf and gloves and hand over the knife and fork. The game continues in this way until all the chocolate is gone, or everybody has had a go.


Split the children into two teams of equal numbers. Arrange the children in two rows, facing members of the opposing team, with their legs outstretched so their feet touch. Make sure there is a good amount of space between the pairs. Give each pair a number. Then call out numbers at random. When a pair’s number is called, they must stand, run up the line, stepping very carefully over the other players’ legs, then back down the side and up the remaining legs until they are back seated in their place. The first one of the pair sat back down is rewarded with a point for their team. The team with the most points at the end, wins. To make things more chaotic (if you want to do that!), instead of calling one number at a time, call two or three at a time, or give them children sums to work out. Then it becomes a race to work out the answer to the sums and so which number pair should run, as well as a straight running race.

Who Am I?

The children take it in turns to write the name of a famous person or character from a film or book onto a Post-It note, before sticking it onto the forehead of one of the other children, crucially, without showing them what it says. The person who has the Post-It on their head must try and guess who they are by asking the other children ‘Yes or ‘No’ questions. When they’ve guessed, they swap roles until all children have had a go at guessing.


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 Guess That Song

For slightly older children. Give each participant a glass of water. In turn, they have to gargle the tune to a popular song. The others must try to guess the tune.

Table-Top Racing

Split the children into teams. Pair up each person in the team with someone from the opposing team. Using a straw, each pair takes it in turn to blow a table tennis ball along a table-top race track. If the ball rolls off the table, that player must put it back to the start line. Whoever gets their ball to cross the finish line first, wins their team a point.

Wink Murder

Sit the children in a circle. Choose one person to be the detective. They must leave the room. Ask the other children to close their eyes. Walk around the circle, and tap one child on the top of their head. Explain that whoever was tapped on the head is the ‘murderer’. Get all the children to open their eyes and call the ‘detective’ back to the room. The detective sits in the centre of the circle. It is the job of the wink murderer to ‘kill’ people in the circle by winking at them surreptitiously. The job of the detective is to work out who is doing the winking. The other children, when they are winked at, may die very dramatic deaths and then lie down dead!

Balloon Passing

Divide the children into teams of equal numbers. Get them to sit – leg-space apart – in lines. When you say “go” each team must pass a balloon up the line using only their feet. If the balloon falls onto the ground, it must return to the start.

Duck, Duck, Goose.

Get the children sitting in a circle. Choose one child to go around the outside of the circle tapping the other children on the head and saying “duck” as s/he passes. When they pick someone they want to race with, they say “goose”. The goose then jumps up and races the tapper around the circle and back to their place. Whoever gets back first can stay sitting, and the person remaining standing becomes the tapper.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

 Pin the tail on the donkey

Draw an appropriation of a donkey – minus its tail – onto a large piece of card. Pin the drawing to a corkboard, or blu-tac it to the wall. Separately, cut out a tail and attach a drawing pin or blu-tac. One by one, blindfold the children and get them to stick the tail where they think it ought to go. The child closest to the mark, wins the prize. There are other variations of this game – pin the horn on the unicorn; the eyepatch on the pirate; the crown on the princess, for example – which make it fit any party theme.

Sleeping Lions

A really good one for young children, especially when you need to quieten things down a bit! Ask all the children to lie on the floor. Explain that if they move at all they are out. The adults walk around keeping a check on the lions. If they spot anyone moving, talking or giggling, they’re out. Personally, I like to keep this going as long as possible, but if you want to be really mischievous (and raise the energy levels again!) then you can try to wake the lions by tickling them!

Follow My leader

This is great for small children and has the added bonus of not having any winners, which gives you a break from consoling disappointed losers. Form a line with someone at the front designated the leader. The children behind the leader must copy everything the leader does. You can have lots of fun with this one, hopping, skipping, jumping like a kangaroo, running, making train noises, dancing the conga, being a monkey etc. Alternate the leaders.

In And Out The Dusty Bluebells

Remember this one? For the tune to go with the words, look on YouTube, but if it was anything like as popular at your school as it was at mine growing up, it’ll be etched into your memory forever anyway.

Have all but one of the children stand in a circle and hold hands. Ask them to then lift their arms up high to form arches. The remaining child weaves in and out of the arches as the other children sing;

In and out the dusty bluebells,
In and out the dusty bluebells,
In and out the dusty bluebells,
Who shall be my partner?

When the singing stops, the child doing the weaving goes and stands behind whomever s/he is nearest to. The weaver places their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them, taps their hands on the shoulders, and everyone sings;

Tippy tippy tappy on your shoulder,
Tippy tippy tappy on your shoulder.
Tippy Tippy tappy on your shoulder,
You shall be my partner.

The child behind then gets hold of the second child’s waist, and they weave through the arches together. Where the gap in the circle was, the other children link hands to make a new arch, and a smaller circle.

The song carries on, with a third child being picked, then a fourth, and so until the line becomes so long and unwieldy, it can no longer fit through the arches and everyone descends into fits of giggles.

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Pass the Parcel

What party would be complete without a game of good-old pass-the-parcel? It just wouldn’t be a party without it, but while the modern, everyone-gets-a-prize version of the game results in happy children all round, beware its organisational complications!

Wrap up a prize in one layer of newspaper or tissue. This is your big ‘bonus’ prize. Continue to wrap the parcel in however many more layers of paper there needs to be to ensure every child in the circle gets a go. (For this reason, I tend to leave wrapping the parcel until we are at the venue as you just never know what your final numbers will be.) Inside each layer put a small prize, commonly a sweet, or small pack of sweets. Sit the children in a circle, give one of them the parcel. When the music starts, the children pass the parcel around the ring. When the music stops, whoever is holding the parcel gets to open the top layer and keep the prize they find inside. Once upon a time, this game was played completely randomly, meaning that some lucky children ended up with six packets of sweets, and others none. But parents got tired of the crying that then ensued, so now it’s generally played with fairness in mind. This, however, requires some eagle-eyed observation and a good memory on the part of the person in charge of the music to make sure everybody gets a prize, or good communication between the adult in the ring with notepad and the person at the music player. If you have got your numbers right (and there’s always a hairy moment when you panic that you haven’t), every child should end up with one small prize each, leaving the last bigger prize as good old pot luck! For cases of unexpected additional children you hadn’t calculated on wanting to join in the fun, have a bowl of emergency extra sweets ready at the end to placate the howls of ‘it’s not fair!’


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