HERDING CATS. OR HOW TO THROW A KID’S PARTY – PART 3. THE GAMES.
OK, this will be my last one on parties I promise. Anyway, I’ve done the planning of the party and the all-important party cake, but I think it is necessary to cover the final essential bits of the party – namely the games. Oh, and I forgot the food – ok, maybe this is the second last.
Firstly, can I highly recommend you find a really dodgy game that involves something slightly humiliating for the compere to do? Say running around a garden holding up signs whilst wearing a train driver’s uniform trying to corral a large number of three year olds in a straight line behind them? And ensure that any husband who might not have been of huge assistance with arranging party becomes the aforementioned compere? Just a suggestion.
In other tips:
1. If they’re under 3, don’t bother, just load ‘em up on cake and watch them run round the garden hopped up on chocolate and juice.
2. After 3, obviously make the games age appropriate. Test them on your kid – I had high hopes for ‘Simon Says’ but a couple of rounds at playgroup proved that while no doubt entertaining for adults watching, it could get a little repetitive emphasising the Simon Says bit every freaking time. Clearly that isn’t a problem for MY child. He’s very gifted – we’re planning a ‘how to host a murder’ party for his fourth birthday.
3. A hunt in the garden for lollies will ALWAYS be a winner. (Seriously, we did an egg hunt at a 30th and much hilarity ensued. No, not nerdy, much fun. You’ll have to take my word for it.)
4. Pick the game then mould it to your theme. Musical chairs becomes musical pirate ships (or something, come on, as if a 4 year old will know), pin the tail on the donkey becomes pin the tiara on the princess (or something slightly less gross), musical statues becomes musical dinosaur statues, walking in a straight line becomes walking the plank. I know — genius.
5. A little DIY activity can be a winner – I saw a mighty cool dinosaur party recently where the guests made their own little terrariums. Or you decorate cookies or crowns or pirate hats…
6. An adult-led table can be a good distraction in the corner – we had a ‘tattoo parlour’ at the recent train party where a kindly grandparent administered hideous Thomas tattoos which was a winner. A gypsy party might involve fortune telling at a table, or there is always ever popular face painting of course. Keep it simple – no need for 15 minute elaborate faces, a few whiskers and noses will be gorgeous.
7. If all else fails – whack on some music and tell them it is a fairy/ dinosaur/animal/train dancing competition.
8. Pick a few noisy games and a quiet concentrating one as well. Although pick your audience – I’m not sure Sleeping Bunnies is a good one to round off a 6 year old jungle party.
9. If it’s not working – ditch it. I know it’s a blow to party host pride but give ‘em some more cake and game failure will be erased from memories.
10. I must confess to be of no help with older kids parties, but searching back in the not so distant personal memory (yes, NOT distant), I recall dress ups, obstacle courses, treasure hunts and the CHOCOLATE GAME were brilliant fun. (If you don’t know what the chocolate game is, you have had a seriously deprived childhood and need that rectified immediately.) Also, I believe asking an open question like ‘what do you want to do for your party this year dear?’ could mean you risk being badgered for an all-class party at Disneyland for the rest of the year. Much better to provide a couple of likely options and ask them to choose. I’m not sure how long this ploy will last.
That was my lengthy and yet bitingly incisive guide to kids party games. Now, here are some good sites with some actual great games…
- This site has a long list of old favourite party games – as they say – the tried and tested.
- Some cute under 5 games here on this site. And this is actually a forum discussion, but some great ideas and tips here for the younger parties.
- And here and here are some great ones for the 5-10 year olds.
- A final tip – once you have picked your theme, google ‘cowboy/zoo/alien/fairy party games’ for some more targeted inspiration. Avoid typing in ‘adult party games’. You may get more than you bargained for. I’m just saying.