Traditional children’s party games are a great way to get everyone in the party spirit.

Musical bumps

Get the children to dance to the music. When the music stops, all the children have to sit down as quickly as possible. The last one to sit is out. The last child left dancing is the winner.

Musical statues

The children dance around to music. When the music stops they have to stand absolutely still, like a statue. If anyone moves, they are out.

Musical chairs

Put out one less chairs than there are children. The children have to dance around the chairs and when the music stops, sit on a chair immediately. The last one left without a chair has to sit out. The last child left in is the winner. Again, you don’t necessarily have to chuck a child out each time; you can just simply play a few rounds and leave it at that.

Dressing up dancing

Choose 5 types of clothing or prop, and make sure there’s enough for each child to have one: a hat, a badge, a top, a skirt, etc. Then the children dance around. When the music stops, you call out ‘scarf!’ and they all have to grab one, put it on, then dance with it till the music stops and then they go for the next item. And so on until they’re all dressed

Pass the Parcel

Make a parcel by wrapping up a prize in several layers of paper. Sit the children in a circle, give one of them the parcel and when the music starts, get them to hand it to the next child, who hands it on, and on. When the music stops, the child who is holding the parcel opens the first layer. Then when the music starts again, they hand it on to the next child, and so on. Wrap the final present in something obvious so that you know which is the final round. You can put a sweet or a little something in each layer of wrapping. Then the last one with the prize in can be well and truly random.

Pin the tail on the donkey

Get a large piece of card, draw a donkey on it  and make a tail. Blindfold each child and get them to attach the tail (bluetak). There are all sorts of variations on this: pin the eye on the alien; pin the horn on a unicorn; pin the wand on the wizard etc.

Sleepy lions

A good one for young children. Get everyone to lie down and pretend to be sleepy lions. They musn’t make a move. You then walk around and try and disturb them by talking, or very gentle tickling. Anyone who moves is out. They can also then help wake up the other lions.

Follow My leader

Get the children to follow a leader . The children have to follow whatever the leader does as they move around. Suggestions: hopping, hands on head, jumping, running, skipping, silly walks, turning round, waving arms, being an animal, being a posh person, etc.

Grandmother’s footsteps

One person is Grandmother and they stand with their backs to everyone else who stands well back from them – between 15 and 20 feet. Everyone has to move closer to Grandmother when her head is turned. When she turns around, anyone who she sees still moving has to go back to the beginning. The person who catches up with Grandmother and taps her on the shoulder is the winner. They then become Grandmother and the game begins again.

In and out the dusty bluebells

All but one of the children stand in a circle, hold hands, and then lift them up into arches. The remaining child weaves in and out of the arches to the tune of In and out the dusty bluebells, In and out the dusty bluebells, In and out the dusty bluebells, Who shall be my partner?

The child then stops and stands behind one of the other children in the circle. While they all sing the chorus, the child behind taps on the child’s shoulder in front. Tippy tippy tappy on your shoulder, Tippy tippy tappy on your shoulder. Tippy Tippy tappy on your shoulder, You shall be my partner. The child behind then gets hold of the second child’s waist, and they weave through the arches together. They then pick a third child at the chorus, and so on, with the line getting longer and longer and hopefully more unmanageable.

Duck Duck Goose

Get all the children bar one to sit in a circle. The child left out walks around the outside of the circle, tapping on the head of each child as they pass them, and with each tap, calling out the name of an animal, – say cat. Then after a while, and without warning, they change the name of the animal (usually it’s connected – in this case dog), and start running round the circle to get back round to the vacated spot. The ‘dog’ child has to get up as quickly as possible and try and catch the other child. If the first child can get back round the circle before being caught, they sit down, and the other child does the walking around (saying a different pair of animals). If not, the same child has to go again.

Pirates obstacle course

One for the garden or a very large room or hall. Clear the space as much as possible. Then put some ‘islands’ on the floor, so that they follow some kind of natural course (or number them). You can use cushions, mats, duvets, airbeds, chairs and rows of chairs, sofas – anything like that. The children have to go around the room, without touching the floor (or falling in the river), by jumping from island to island. You’ll obviously need to test this one out beforehand, and may need to tweak things according to the size of the child each time. Whoever falls into the river the least number of times is the winner.

Show jumping

Oone for the garden. Set up a pony jumping course, using anything obvious to hand, boxes or flower pots with planks or bamboo poles suspended across them. Get the children to pretend to be horses, give them a badge with a number, they have to pick a name. Then get each child to run the course with knocking the poles over. One thing that they love (but you need a willing adult) is someone being a commentator as they do it – it really spurs them on.

Escape the monster 

You need a big space. Line all the children up on one side. Choose a couple of volunteers to be monsters in the middle of a forest. The children have to run across the forest, without being caught by the monster. If they’re caught, they become a monster too. The children then have to run back across the forest the other way and any that are caught then become monsters, and so on, until the last child remains.

Eat the jelly

Make individual bowls of jelly with an animal inside. Then make each child put their hands behind their backs, and get the animal out of the jelly. The first one to produce their animal is the winner. Best left to the end of the party.

Food on a string

Put loads of hula hoops (or whatever you like) on two long pieces of string. Either get adults to hold them up, or suspend them somehow. Divide the children into two teams. With their hands behind their backs, they’ve got to eat all the hula hoops. The first team to finish is the winner.

What’s On the Tray

Put some disparate and obvious items on a tray. Give each child a pen and piece of paper. Let them look at the tray for a minute, then take the tray away. The children have to write down what was on the tray. The one with the most right answers is the winner. Variations: simply take one thing away at a time, show the tray to the group, and let them call out what’s missing.

Touch and Feel

Take a box, and put a different item in it each time. Ask the children to put their hand in the box and guess what it is. Suggestions; an orange; cotton wool; shoelace; piece of Lego; a hairbrush; etc.

Chinese Puzzle

Put all but one of the children in a circle and get them to hold hands. (Tell the remaining child to shut their eyes). The children have to tie themselves into the most complicated knot possible without breaking hands (that bit’s important –you’ll need to keep an eye on it). They can turn round, step over each other’s arms, go under arms etc. When they’re ready, the remaining child has to come back and unknot them (and again, make sure the children don’t let go of each other, because that will break the puzzle, and also spoil the game because the fun comes when the children start falling over each other (yes, of course, health and safety permitting…).

Sand Treasure Hunt

Put some little pieces of ‘treasure’ (sweets, chocolate coins, little presents) on a tray, evenly spaced out. Pour sand all over the treasure, so that it’s completely concealed. Then make little flags, one for each child, with their name on. Get each child in turn to place a flag gently in the tray. When they’re all done, uncover each flag at a time to see who’s closest to the treasure, or if they’ve found any treasure within a small radius of their flag.

Picture Treasure Hunt

This really only works with a small group of children, otherwise it’ll be chaos and the clues will only last two minutes. Hide treasure in easy, safe places and draw pictures of the places (or very obvious clues which you can supplement with questions, i.e., a tap. Could be garden tap, or bathroom or kitchen sink).

Animal Treasure Hunt

Make some large animal shapes out of stiff coloured paper (make each animal out of a different colour, and make two versions, as identical as possible). Cut one of the versions into four pieces and hide the pieces all over the garden/house. Put the children into pairs, and give them one animal to find (showing them the complete example so that they know exactly what they’re looking for). The first pair to complete their animal is the winner.


Get the children to sit at the table, or if there are too many, on the floor. Give them a piece of kitchen towel on which you place a little container about 10 raisins, and a pair of chopsticks each. They have to transfer all the raisins into the container by using the chopsticks. The first one to do it is the winner.

Walking with binoculars

Mark a straight line on the floor. (with string, or tape). Then get each child, one at a time, to walk along the string, looking through the wrong end of a pair binoculars. See who can stay on the line for longest.

Happy birthday animals

Divide the children into groups of animals. Then sing Happy Birthday. When it comes to the last line, pick an animal (Happy Birthday Dear Cats) and all the cats have to meow and purr and generally be cats. Give each group of animals their go.

And of course, if you want to be a bit extra, check these wooden playhouse kits for sale online.

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