Fun Birthday Party Games for Kids

You can transform any event from ho-hum to loads of fun with indoor or outdoor party games for kids with a little preparation and a few inexpensive items. 

Indoor Party Games
You'll need to have some indoor party games ready if you are planning kids' birthday party activities or are preparing for a large group of kids in a small space. And, when in doubt, you can always go with classics like Duck-Duck-Goose and Simon Says.

What you need: soft tossing object, such as a beanbag or rolled socks

Some games can educate children without their ever knowing it. In this game, children should sit in a circle, and one child starts the game. The child holds the soft item and tosses it to another child while saying either "Earth," "Air," "Fire" or "Water." Then the child should count to 10 rapidly. The catcher must name a creature that lives in that element (for example, Air=eagle). If the child throwing the item says "Fire," the catcher must stay silent until the child finishes counting to 10. If the catcher can't respond by the time limit, places a creature in the wrong element (Earth=whale), or talks when they should stay silent, they must move out of the circle, and it closes up. The game continues until one player is left.

Quest for the Ring
What you need: a piece of yarn long enough to make a 6- to 8-foot circle; a costume jewelry ring that can fit in the palm of a child's hand, but not small enough to pose a choking hazard

Let children get in touch with their theatrical side. Thread the ring onto the yarn and tie the ends together. Children form a circle and hold the string in front of them so it is tight. One child stands in the center, ready to spot the ring. On "Go," the all the players pretend to pass the ring to their neighbor along the string, while the real ring is also being passed. They are trying to prevent the seeker from spotting it, so children should use lots of hand motion all at once and plenty of bluffing. When the ring is found, whoever was holding it goes to the center and the seeker takes their place on the string.

What you need: a balloon and piece of yarn for each child

Children should have a balloon tied to their ankle with the piece of yarn. At the signal, they stomp around and try to pop another's balloon. The last child with an un-popped balloon is the winner. However, balloon-popping games may be scary for younger kids.

Outdoor Party Games
The following children's party games help kids burn off some energy and get really messy.

Rock-A-Bye Baby
What you need: A big bowl packed full of flour; a tray; a spoon; a smallish treat, such as a mini candy bar or jumbo marshmallow

Place the tray on top of the flour bowl and carefully turn it upside down so that, when the bowl is lifted, it makes a flour mound. Carefully place the treat, which represents the baby, on top. Children must take turns removing a spoonful of flour without causing the baby to fall. Whoever causes the treat to tumble must eat the treat out of the flour without hands.

Spider and Fly
What you need: a large grassy area with boundaries already set up

One child is selected to be the "spider" while the rest are "flies." Flies should line up at one end of the area with the spider in the middle. The spider calls out, "I am the spider, and you are the fly. If you come near me, you surely will die." At that point, the flies try to run across the web and past the spider to the other side while the spider tries to tag a fly. When tagged, the fly joins the spider on the next round, and it will become harder for flies to pass through the web. The last one to be tagged becomes the new spider. You can set up this game on dry land or even in a pool.

Silly String Tag
What you need: a can of silly string

Tag is the ultimate party game. One person is "It" and is armed with the silly string. Silly String Tag is played just like Freeze Tag, only "It" must hit another player with the silly string. If a player is tagged, they take the can of string and start again.

Marshmallow Drop
What you need: ice cream cones; small marshmallows

Party games can't fail if they involve treats. Divide children into teams. Have one child stand on a chair and the other lay on the ground below them with the cone in his or her mouth. At the signal, the standing player must drop as many marshmallows into the cone as possible. After time is up, the team with the most marshmallows in the cone wins.

Divide children into two even teams and get ready for some fun.

  • Potato Pail. Have a potato for each child and a small bucket at each team's goal. With the potato between their thighs, players race one at a time to the bucket and drop it in, without hands.
  • Dizzy Balloon. Line teams up, and give the front person a balloon. At the signal, the balloon is passed over their heads. The second person must pass it between their legs, the next person over, then under and so on. At the back of the line, the last person races to the front of the line to start over. When the original first player is first again, the race is over.
  • Wet -n' Wild. One person sits on the ground holding an empty 2-liter soda bottle on their head. At the signal, team members each race with a cup full of water and try to pour it into the soda bottle. The first bottle filled to the mark is the winner.
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