Just when did children’s parties get so complicated?
And so expensive?
What happened to 10 friends round for sugar-saturated tea, a load of children’s party games compered by mum, dad or Auntie Sue and a balloon and a slice of squidgy birthday cake to go home with?
It almost feels like we’re frightened now – we don’t trust ourselves – to put on a good old fashioned kids party, with classic children’s party games.
But you know what?
Those classic kids party games we enjoyed at our birthday parties are super easy to organise. And they’re cheap. And kids love them.
Classic party games are also perfect for family parties of all ages and for both indoor and outdoor family games night fun. And you don’t even need to save these games for parties – get kids playing them in the living room or backyard or on the beach whenever they’re bored and get angsty.
So you’re sold. You’re up for putting on a party with classic kids games but what are the best simple party games out there?
Well I’ve got a big list of my favourite party games here PLUS my key tips on how to make them go off with a bang. Do check them out.
And for more simple ideas for fun with kids follow me on Pinterest and check out my other kids play & activity posts.
35 Classic Kids Party Games
I’ve organised this big list of classic kids party games into different types of games for you so it’s super easy to plan a simple party schedule with a good mixture of different games.
1. First To The Front Games
These are the games where one person stands at the front and the others want to be first to the other side, without being sent back or caught …
- What’s the time Mr Wolf?
- Grandma’s footsteps – sneak up on grandma and don’t get caught moving when she turns around, also known as Sly fox
- Mother may I? – we used to play this for ages, if you’ve forgotten how, I’ve shared the details here
- Monsters in the forest – run to the other side of the room without getting caught by the monster in the middle, if you get caught, you become a monster too
2. When The Music Stops Games
These are usually the games when we send one kid out each round. I would really recommend you don’t. Better to reward each round’s winner with a sticker or sweet unless, it’s a game like musical chairs, when someone has to go out, in which case I would save it for a smaller party or group of children …
- Musical statues
- Musical bumps
- Musical chairs
- Musical cushions – basically musical bumps but you’ve got to bump onto a cushion, remove a cushion each go.
- Musical islands – just cut out card for kids to run and stand on when music stops or you could use hoops if you’ve got space in a big hall or outside
3. Circle Games
Circle games are great for bringing kids back together, if they’re starting to drift off but they can still be quite lively when everyone’s full of beans. And sugar!
- Pass the parcel – DO NOT put a prize between each layer! This turns a quick, fun children’s party game into a complicated military operation. AND makes it boring for the kids. Keep it simple. 5 layers with one decent prize in the middle.
- Hot potato – wrap a cold potato in foil, pass it round the circle as the music plays, if you’re caught holding it when the music stops pay a simple forfeit (best for slightly older kids) e.g. pull a funny face, hop round the circle
- Duck duck goose – one person walks round the circle tapping people on head saying duck, if they tap you and say goose, you have to run after them round the circle and try and catch them before they sit in your place
- Honey bear– “Isn’t it funny, how a bear likes honey? Buzz, buzz, I wonder why he does?” Do you remember it? One person is bear in the middle who falls asleep. Someone else steals the honey. And bear has to guess who when they wake up.
- Wink murder
- Where’s the polo? – put a polo sweet, or anything else small with a hole in the middle, on a really long length of string. Tie the ends together to make a circle. And get everyone in the circle to hold the string. One person is in the middle, and has to try and spot the polo as it is secretly passed around the string by the others.
4. Tick, Tag, Dob Games
It may be known by different names, but classic tick or tag or dob is played the world over. One person is “it” and has to “catch” the others.
- Classic tag
- Stuck-in-the-mud – you stay stuck in the mud with legs part until someone else wriggles under your legs and frees you
- Toilet tag – !!! stand with your arm up if tagged, you must be “flushed” to be freed
- Submarine tag – same as toilet tag, but you lie down when tagged and your periscope has to be let down
- Off ground tag
- Tinkernelly – one of the best children’s games ever. We get the whole family playing this on holiday. It’s basically a combination of tag and hide and seek, you might know it as Forty, Forty or Relieve You. I’ve explained it in detail here.
5. Hiding Games
What little kid doesn’t like hiding?
But hiding games are also brilliant for older kids who need a bit more freedom at a party.
- Hide and seek
- Tinkernelly – as described above
- Blind Man’s Bluff
6. Singing Games
Singing games are another great way to bring kids back together when they’re drifting off and despite their claims even older kids will join in and enjoy especially if it spills out into a conga …
- Oranges and Lemons
- Hokey Cokey
7. Racing Games
If you’re outside or got the space of a big hall, you can’t beat a race for burning off some energy …
- Ladders – another of our big faves. You really need at least 12 to play. Sit down into two equal lines opposite each other with legs stretched out towards your pair. Number each pair. When a number is called. That pair jump up, race down the ladder jumping over everyone else’s legs, back up the outside and then down the remaining ladder steps to their place. First back sitting down wins for their side.
- Egg & spoon race
- Wheelbarrow race
- Sack race
- Crawling race
- Donkey derby
- Bottom shuffling race
8. Quiet Games
But there’s also points when you can use a couple of quiet games up your sleeve …
- Sleeping lions – aka pure bliss! Perfect for just before tea. Everyone lies down. And the winner is the one who is last to move.
- Kim’s game – the classic memory game.
- Pin the tail on the donkey or any other creature of your kids’ choice.
Five Key Party Game Tips
From my experience of putting on these party games for both kids birthdays and family parties the most important tips are:
- Absolutely NO games in which children go out! If you’re gonna keep this party moving the last thing you want is half the kids loitering on the side.
- NOT every kid needs a prize in every game – if at all! – this just drags the games on until they’re no fun at all.
- Mix up the games so you’ve got different types of games at different times of the party e.g. warming up games as they arrive, slow down games just before they stuff themselves full of sugar, super simple high energy games they can play – minus a few brain cells – after stuffing themselves with sugar!!
- Play each games for no more than 10 minutes. Five minutes will do for some kids. For an hour’s entertainment have at least six of these games up your sleeve ready to go.
- Recruit older kids – who are fun to grown up to join – to help run the games, until they’ve got over themselves and joined in.
And there you go. A massive list of classic children’s party games – that you don’t even have to save for parties – PLUS tips for pulling them off with aplomb at your kids party.
I do hope they help. For more simple fun activities for kids do follow me on Pinterest & check out these posts:
This is amazing and so helpful! I’d forgotten half of these from my childhood-sorts out a 6th birthday party this weekend.
You really can’t beat the golden oldies can you? So glad you found it helpful 🙂