Old-Fashioned Party Games for Kids

Updated November 22, 2016

When planning a party for your child, keep in mind that if you don't plan something for the kids to do while they are at the party, they'll invent something. It's best to keep kids busy with a variety of games and activities. Games don't need to be fancy or contrived, and old-fashioned games, without a lot of props or extras, are both engaging and inexpensive.

Tangled Web

Children of all ages will enjoy this game, but it's especially good for very young players as it is quite simple to do. Arrange to have one goody bag per child and one very long piece of yarn for each bag. Tie one strand of yarn to each goody bag and hide them all in one room. Drape the yarn all over the place and let the strands cross each other, winding around toys and over furniture. Give each child an empty toilet paper roll and the end of one of the strands of yarn, and let him wind up his yarn on the roll until he finds the treasure at the end. This is a terrific way to hand out treats, but make sure anything breakable is safely out of the way.

Captain, May I?

This is a good action game that gives kids a chance to burn off some excess energy. Kids of all ages will enjoy trying to remember to follow the rules while also seeing if they can catch someone else making a mistake. To play, the children line up at one side of the yard, with the goal of being the first to reach the other side. One player is chosen to be the captain, and she stands to one side. She will call out a move to each child in turn, such as to take a giant step or skip twice. Before moving, the player whose turn it is must ask "Captain, May I?" and then wait for the captain to give permission. If a child moves before the captain gives permission, that child must return to the starting line. The winner is the first to reach the finish line, at which point he become the captain.

Clothespin Bottle Drop

This game gives kids a chance to test their skill in a race to get the most clothespins into a jar. To play, place a jar on the floor and have the children either stand over it or kneel on a chair placed next to the jar. Provide a bowl with lots of clothespins in it where the players can easily reach it. Let the children take turns dropping clothespins into the jar. Give them a time limit and see who can get the most clothespins into the jar before time runs out. Use a large jar for younger kids, such as a quart canning jar. For older kids, make the game more challenging by using a jar with a smaller opening. Give the winner a prize; if there is a tie, award duplicate prizes.

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