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Traditional party games

Party games make some wonderful, fun memories for kids.  There are some games that are always popular.  Here are some of the favourites.

Apple bobbing 

Fill a tub or bucket with water and float a bunch of apples in it.  Make sure you remove the stalks. Next, get ready for the giggles, splashes and fun.  Players need to lean over the bucket and remove an apple with only their mouth. Not as easy as it sounds. Having fewer apples in the bucket will make the game a little tricker. The first person able to take an apple out of the bucket wins. Alternatively, one apple could be specially marked and the first person to retrieve this one is the winner.

Tips: Make sure you have plenty of towels ready for guests to dry off with. Don't play this on carpet! An alternative to this game is to hang apples on the clothes line using the stalks and some string.  Players need to eat the apple without using their hands.

Chinese whispers

The players line up in a row. The first player whispers a phrase or sentence to the next player being careful not to let the other players hear it. The phrase is not to be repeated if the next player in the line didn't hear it properly.  Instead the next player should attempt to convey what they thought they heard.

The second player whispers to the third player being careful to repeat exactly what they heard. This is repeated all the way along the row until the last player says the phrase or  sentence out allowed so everyone can hear.  It is amazing just how different the end result is from the original words. Usually it is quite funny!

Note: Other names for this game include: telephone, grapevine, broken telephone, whisper down the lane, gossip, Russian scandal.

Egg and spoon race

A game of thrills, skills and plenty of spills.  This is a race where players line up on the starting line balancing an egg on a spoon.  When the signal is given, players need to race to the finish line with the egg still in tact, balanced on the spoon.  If the egg rolls off the spoon, the player is either out or has to start again with a new egg.  The first across the line wins.

Tips: Definitely an outdoor game as things can get very messy.  If playing with young children, you can substitute eggs with ping pong or other small balls.  In this case the ball must not be dropped from the spoon.

Hula hoop competition

A hula hoop is a large hoop that is spun around the body by the person wiggling their hips, arms, necks, legs or wherever they are spinning the hoop from. Traditional hoops can be made with willow, grasses and vines but moderns ones are usually made with plastic tubing.  Some even come with lights and unbuilt in them.  They also come in different sizes. Smaller ones are best for kids.

Hula hoop competitions are lots of fun. You can time people to see who can last the longest, you can see who can do the most tricks with the hoop or perhaps even who can spin the most number of hoops at one time. It's up to you!

Limbo dancing


Using a wooden rod held between two points (usually two volunteers hold one end each) you have your players line up and go under the rod without touching it.

Start with the rod being held quite high (say the neck level of most players) making it easy for everyone to duck under it. After everyone has gone under the rod once, it is lowered, increasing the difficulty slightly. As the rod gets lower, more people touch it  accidentally. Touching the rod immediately disqualifies the person that touched it. The process is repeated with the rod getting lower and lower each time until there is only one person left. They are the winner.

Note: broom sticks can be used if you done have a wooden rod.  Even a length of rope or string. If using rope or string, you can tie it at one end so you only need one volunteer to hold it.  You just need to retie it at each level).

Quoits (the fun, social version)

 The aim of the game is have players stand a reasonable distance away from a peg and throw six quoits (usually rope circles) one at a time onto a peg without missing. The person that gets all six in one go without missing is the winner. If you have more than one winner, you can have a play off until one winner is decided.

It is important to ensure the peg is a suitable distance from the line where people toss from. Suitable being that the organisers need to take into consideration the abilities of their players, young children might need to be closer to the peg and have a different tossing line to adults.


Sack race

The players get into sacks or pillow cases that come up to their waist.  Holding the sides, the players have to jump, wriggle and giggle from the starter line all the way across to the finish line.  The fist person to cross the finish line wins.

Simon says

One player is nominated as 'Simon'. Simon issues instructions to the other players in the group always starting with the words "Simon says...". The players need to follow the instructions as quickly as they can. The instructions can be anything like "Simon says stand one one leg", "Simon says do a twirl", "Simon says put your finger on your nose".

Simon must try to get the other players out by issuing an instruction without beginning with the words "Simon says...".  Those players that follow the instruction are out and have to sit down.  The last player left standing is the winner. The winner then becomes Simon if the game is to be played again.

Note: It can happen that the last few players get out at the same time resulting in no winner.  It is up to you if you want to retry the last group to get one player standing. Alternatively you can give all the last group a prize or start a new game.

Three legged race

This game is played in pairs.  Using an old stocking or piece of elastic the pair are to stand next to each other and tie the inside leg of each player together making three legs between them.  Players then line up at the starting line and when the signal is given, the first pair across the finish line wins.  Get ready for plenty of hilarity as the players try to find their stride.

Tips: Using elastic or something that provides a little give allow movement should there be any falls. 

Tombola Jars

Tombola jars are often used as a fund raising activity but they also make a fun game for a kids party - particularly a circus party.

Want ideas on what to put in your Tombola Jar and how to decorate them...

Treasure hunt / scavenger hunt

This is a great game for any party as the 'hunt' or 'scavenge' can be for anything that suits a particular theme.  Pirates can look for treasure; mermaids can hunt for shells and starfish and fairies can look for wishing stones, butterflies and fairy wands. 

Tips: Ensure you hide a few easy things to get the hunters quickly absorbed in the game.  Put things up high on walls, hanging from clothes lines or down low even on the ground. If hiding things outside consider the safety of those looking.  Make sure hunters can reach things without climbing and that objects are not among places where creepy crawlies might hide.

Tug of war (also known as Tug o' War) (ages 4yrs +)

Two teams, as equally matched as possible in strength and ability, are pitted against each other at different ends of a long rope.  A centre line is marked in the middle of the rope.   The game starts with the two teams lined up at equal distance on either side of the rope with the centre line over a middle marker.

When the game starts, the object of the game is to pull the other team over the centre line or alternatively topple them other side.  Depending on the age and ability of your plays and how strict you want to be, you can introduce the following rules.  Players are not allowed to:

sit down or drop to their knees to get extra pull

elbow other players

Tip: A double length skipping rope can be used as a rope if need be.  Alternatively, longer thinner ropes can be doubled over or platted to make one thicker rope.

What's the time Mr Wolf

One player is the wolf and he/she stands about 20 paces away from the other players with their back turned to them.

The players call to the wolf, "Whats the time Mr. Wolf" and the wolf turns to face the others as they call out a time. If the wolf says it is 2 o'clock, the players take two steps towards the wolf. If the wolf says it is 7 o'clock, the other players would take 7 steps toward the wolf.  Each time the wolf turns around to call out a new time, other players get closer and closer to the wolf.

When the players are close enough to the wolf so the wold might surprise them and the next time the players ask "Whats the time Mr Wolf" the wolf will say 'DINNER TIME!' the wolf then runs after the group hoping to catch someone before they are back safely over the start line again.  If the wolf does catch someone, they become the wolf and the wolf becomes one of the group. 

Note: The tricky wolf will tease the other players getting the closer and closer with just a few steps at a time towards the end.

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