Trying to wrap a pass-the-parcel can drive you mad! Here’s my steps for wrapping easily, neatly and maintaining your sanity.

Until I became a party planner, I thought that pass-the-parcel was a nice little game that was easy to prepare and devoid of political pitfalls. Erm…that was a little bit naive. My first parcel took over an hour of solid labour to wrap, and looked terrible. All those layers of paper and awkward shapes to manage.

And I had no idea of the potential politics! Should one have a layer for each child to unwrap? And a prize within? When do you stop the music, and who should win the main prize? So many choices, and so many worries about doing ‘the wrong thing’! If you have a party with 25 kids, is it even possible to wrap a parcel that many times?

So, with a bit more experience now under my belt, here’s what I do, and here’s how I wrap, to create a (relatively) stress-free pass-the-parcel that passes all the logistical and political tests.

How many prizes / layers / parcels?

  • One layer for each child I know will be attending the party, with a small trinket or candy inside each layer. PLUS one extra layer with a central prize.
  • Keep a few extra prizes on hand in case there’s unexpected guests.
  • If there’s more than 15 kids, make two parcels.
  • Ideally, make the central prize something small and an easy shape to wrap. Remember the wrapping is only going to get bigger

Under these rules, no one misses out, and the winner still gets something special. And by having one extra layer, everyone will have taken a turn at unwrapping before you get to the middle prize, so it won’t be obvious who is going to win that prize (if you don’t have that extra layer, there will be one kid at the end who hasn’t had a turn, and it’s somewhat obvious and expected that you’re going to let them win the prize!).

With larger numbers of kids, handing around more than one parcel at a time means the game doesn’t take so long that kids start getting bored.

How to wrap the parcel

Firstly, gather your supplies. Here are my tips:

  • Use two types of contrasting paper, one tissue paper and the other wrapping paper. You want each child to rip off only one layer, and this is much easier when the papers are contrasting. Also, tissue paper creates less volume, while wrapping paper gives a neater finish. Using both ensures your parcel ends up both neat and not too massive. I like to use theme-coloured paper.
  • I use stickers to stick together each layer. I find stickers easier to manage than sticky tape, and less tape makes it easier for the kids to open the layers. I often use the 2 inch circles contained in many printable party packages, printed onto label sheets. They’re a perfect way to incorporate your party theme.
  • Count out your candies/trinkets and stickers. I do this in order to know how many layers I’ve wrapped. I’ve tried making a note after each layer is wrapped, but I inevitably still lose count. Counting out everything in advance works so much better!

Wrap your main prize. If you’ve got an even number of kids, start with the wrapping paper layer. You are going to be wrapping an odd number of layers, and the wrapping paper will end up as your outermost layer.

How to wrap pass the parcel 1

Next, cut a square/rectangle and lay your present on it at an angle, as shown in the photo marked (1). Note that the corners of the present don’t touch the edges of the paper. Try not to have too much excess paper, or the parcel will become messy.

Place your trinket under the present (that way it won’t escape as you wrap).

Now fold one corner of the paper up over the bottom of the present (2). Next, fold in one side (3).

Fold in the opposite side (4). If needed, use sticky tape to secure, but be sure to tape the paper to itself, not to the other layers. This is so multiple layers don’t inadvertently get ripped off all together.

How to wrap pass the parcel 2

And finally, fold closed the last corner, and seal with a sticker (5). Then do that umpteen more times until you go slightly mad! Don’t forget to include your trinket in each layer (6).

How to play the game

Of course, you probably know the basic rules of pass the parcel – play some music, while the kids pass the parcel around in a circle, and when the music stops, whoever is holding the parcel gets to unwrap a layer. Here’s a few extra tips to help things run smoothly:

  • Seat everyone in a circle. This is not so easy with little children! Get them to stand in a circle holding hands, then drop their hands and sit down.
  • If you have a large group and are using two parcels, have both parcels going around the circle in the same direction, at the same time.
  • Keep an eye on the game and try to stop the parcel at each child once. This isn’t always possible, so if the child with the parcel already has a prize, get them to pass it along to the next child.
  • You can get the children to all wear a party hat for the game. When they’ve had a turn, get them to remove their party hat. It makes keeping track much easier!
  • Remind the children to only remove one layer at a time.
  • Get the kids to put the used paper in the middle of the circle, then ask them to scrunch it up and put it in the bin at the end of the game. This is a task they’ll enjoy!

Want the low-down on how to make your kid’s party a huge success? You’ll get all my pro tips in The Essential Kid’s Party Planning Guide. No fake parties, no fluff, just top tips that really work – I promise 🙂 

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