Choosing Birthday Party Games

Choosing birthday party games is often an essential part of party planning, not just for the little ones but also for older kids and adults as well. 

I admit I am a kid's party game addict and planning the games is one of my favorite bits. Give me a party and you can count on me providing the games.

Why Have Party Games 

Apart from the fun factor, I like to play games for several reasons.

Firstly party games help to draw in the quiet or shy kids.
Secondly they are a great way of calming down a boisterous crowd or for getting a party atmosphere going.
Thirdly playing games gives the kids something exciting to do and so stops you stressing about what to do with the kids. So it's a win, win situation for everyone.

Questions I am often asked when choosing birthday party games are: 'How many games should we play' and 'Which games are best for a certain age group'? If you are asking the same questions, follow my tips below whether for preschoolers or school age kids and you can't go wrong.

Choosing Birthday Party Games for Preschoolers

The preschool age group are just starting to enjoy playing games in a group. However fair play and following instructions are not necessarily something that they are very good at.  So when choosing birthday party games, keep them simple and short and let everyone feel that they have done a good job, whether they win or not.

How Many Games to Play
I would plan on playing a couple of games followed by a break for free play and then if you like play another game. 3 games maximum is plenty. 

Which Games to Play
The younger age groups generally love musical games. They lack concentration so keep the games short and with little or no rules. Avoid blindfold games as some children are frightened of them.

Be Prepared
Be prepared and have a few party games planned and ready, even if you don't necessarily play them all. You will find some games are so popular that the children will play them over and over again and don't be disappointed if they don't want to play 'YOUR' favorite game.

Get Them in the Mood
The arrival at a party can be an awkward time or even a bit scary for the shy ones or the younger kids. Have some party music going in the background but not too loud and have some toys and simple activities laid out so the little ones can get busy.

Every-one's a Winner!
I don't think you need to give out prizes to very young children. And besides it often causes tears when children don't understand why they didn't get something. However if you want to give out prizes, let everyone win something. It keeps them all happy and instills confidence. My favorite prizes for this age group are stickers.

Give them a Break
Don't feel that the children have to be continually playing party games in order to be having fun. In fact with preschoolers you really only need one or two games over a period of an hour. A bit of 'free' play is often just as enjoyable. Also don't force kids to play if they don't want to but try and involve them in other ways such as handing out any props, turning on and off the music and so on.

Fun Birthday Party Games for Preschoolers

Choosing Birthday Party Games for Ages 5-12

With this age group, the fun of birthday party games really starts. They are generally much more ready to follow rules and enjoy playing in teams. They can get pretty competitive too!

How Many Games to Play
When choosing birthday party games with this age group I generally plan on  a minimum of 3  birthday party games over a 3 hour period but maybe have an extra game or two planned just in case.  

What Games to Play
If you are not sure how boisterous or quiet the kids are going to be, when choosing birthday party games, plan on a mix of active and quieter games so that everyone will feel comfortable. Think also about how much space you have, whether you would prefer to be indoors or outdoors or in teams or play as a group. I find team games work better with kids over the age of 8 whereas the younger ones often prefer circle games.

Game Rules
It is easy to get carried away with rules and other details. However often the simplest kids party games are the most well received. Also don't force kids to play games if they don't want to but try and involve them in other ways such as handing out prizes, picking team captains and so on.

Should you Give out Prizes
Let's face it, everyone loves to win a prize whether you are an adult of a child. But we can't win all the time. However a birthday party is meant to be fun and so I feel that if you are planning on giving prizes then every child should have a fair chance of winning something. Naturally not everyone can win a game so in which case I like to hand out stickers or sweets to the kids that didn't win the top prize. Another alternative is not to hand out prizes to anyone but instead give the kids stickers for participation. Maybe the winner of the game could choose their sticker first. This way everyone is equal but the winner has been recognized.

Get them in The Mood
When the kids arrive, they may be excited or anxious and not sure what to do. I wouldn't advise playing games straight away but let them warm up first with a few party craft activities or just free play. 

Give them a Break
Playing games is fun but can be tiring and the kids may get hot and tired. Organize a bit of down time between games so the kids can eat and drink and maybe just have some free play.

Be Adaptable
If you are unsure about the weather then think about how you can adapt any of the planned games, just in case. I always like to be over prepared rather than under prepared and if that means having a couple of games planned that we never got round to playing, then that is fine. 

Be Ready
Whatever kid's party games you decide to have, make sure you have plenty of the equipment you need. I tend to put everything I need in a box (one box for each game). Kids are not very good at waiting whilst you try to find a pencil or blow up a ball etc

Fun Birthday Party Games for School Age Kids

Birthday Party Games

So now you have some advice on choosing birthday party games are you ready to choose some party games? 

1st Birthday Party Games
Preschool Party Games
School Age Party Games
Teen Party Games
Party Games for All Ages




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