There’s nothing to say you have to stick to traditional party games. In fact, some of my most popular party activities are not games at all. For example:
Crafts & Colouring
Lay out craft supples on a table and let the kid create something that they can then take home. For small children, a sticker craft is nice and easy, using self sticking gemstones and foam shapes that don’t require glue or scissors. For older children, add washi tape, feathers, shells, etc, with PVA (Elmer’s) glue. Have the kid decorate blank cards, or paper mache items such as door hangers and treasure chests, photo frames, fairy wings, masks, wands, etc. Or perhaps they can tackle a simple sewing project. I often add colouring pages to my craft table, as some children will finish their craft early (or not want to make it) and will be looking for something else to do. You can provide a bit of structure to these activities, but in my experience, kids just love to be let loose with their own imagination, so don’t over plan things.
One of my most popular party themes is ‘Mad Science‘, and it’s just perfect for active primary school kids. You can run a great science party by setting up a table outside and helping the kids conduct simple experiments using household products. You can find plenty of experiment instructions on youtube. Or take a shortcut and download one of my party guides, where I provide everything you need to know. I highly recommend this theme, as in my experience, science parties are an absolute blast (haw haw). Here’s my guides to help you: The Complete Science Party Plan – including decoration, experiments, menu and printable decorations. Science Party Experiment Pack – experiment instructions only. (Or if you’re in Melbourne, Australia, I can run a Science party for you).
As kids get older, many children (and their parents) prefer to head out to a venue for their party, such as a movie, ice skating rink or pool. This is a great way to keep everyone occupied without having to run actual games.
If your kids are into Lego, Meccano or similar, gather some supplies and let them build away. Provide some ideas of what to create (you can print out Lego instructions or make a prototype), or set particular team tasks. But also allow lots of time for the kids to make their own creations. You’ll find loads of activity ideas on my Lego Party Pinterest Board. Providing Lego for everyone can be expensive, so check second hand shops for bags of cheap bricks, or you may be able to hire from a toy library.
For younger kids, you can lay out playdoh activities. Some ideas include:
- Providing pipe cleaners, googly eyes and dried pasta, to create playdoh monsters
- Used playdoh mats for inspiration – search on Pinterest for free printable mats
- Lay out muffin trays, sillicone cake cups, rolling pins and cookie cutters to make playdoh cakes.
Once again, be sure to allow plenty of time for free expression.
Change The Aim Of The Game
You don’t have to completely discount your favourite competitive party games, just have a re-think on how to play them. Here’s some examples of how I’ve done this in the past:
- Pin the tail on the donkey – I created a non-competitive version of Pin The Nose On Olaf (from Frozen), by cutting out Olaf body pieces and dividing them amongst the children. Everyone then takes a turn sticking their piece to the wall to collectively put Olaf back together. It’s fun to do this blindfolded so he looks all wonky and melted, and then again ‘properly’ with everyone able to see.
- Treasure hunt – This is by far one of the most popular activities I run. Instead of allowing the children to keep only the treasure they find, I will ask the children to find as many items as they can and place them all in a tub at my feet. That way, I can divide the treasures evenly amongst the party bags.
- Bowling – I’ve had kids decorate plastic bottles as characters at the start of a party (such as Minions), then we’ve played a game of bowls with them. But instead of a bowling game where each child competes to get the most points, I’ve made it the aim for the whole group to knock over a total of 50 pins, and get everyone to take turns while I add up their collective score.
- Other goal-less activities – Kid’s will also enjoy activities for which there’s apparently no point at all! At a Minions party, I had the kids take turns throwing handfuls of red jelly at a giant purple minion poster. That’s all they had to do, take turns and throw jelly. And for a Frozen party, I froze small figurines in ice cubes, doled them out to the kids and had them ‘rescue’ the people by melting the ice.
Make Everyone A Winner
You might like to run an activity where everyone who achieves a certain goal gets a reward (such as making it through an obstacle course). Just make sure you pitch the level of the activity so that it’s achievable by all, and offer extra help where needed. I’ve also noticed that putting the kids into teams to achieve a goal can ease the pressure of competition. For a game like pass the parcel, which involves chance, include small identical prizes in each layer. Use your own judgement on whether to include an extra special prize in the centre of the parcel. I’ve always found that, as long as everyone has received a small prize first, the children are happy for one lucky child to receive an additional central prize. (PS – here’s my hints on how to wrap a pass-the-parcel without going nuts).
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