70 Frugal Birthday Party Games is a collection of fun and easy games you can play at your child’s next birthday party!
Let the Games Begin!
Back to Back Balloon Pop
Arrange the children into teams of 2. Have each team stand back to back while an adult places a balloon between each of their backs. On GO, the teams try to break their balloon without dropping it. The first team to pop their balloon is the winner.
On small slips of paper write the name of a prize, and slide each piece of paper into a deflated balloon. Blow up the balloons and hang them around the party room. Let each child pick a balloon and pop it. Whatever prize is written on their slip of paper is the prize they win. This is a good game to do last, just before children go home.
Divide the children into 2 teams and stand each team in a line. Across the room place a laundry basket filled with balloons (enough for each team member to have one). The first child in each line must run across the room, take a balloon out of the basket and sit or stomp on the balloon to pop it. Once the balloon pops the child must run back and tag the second team member in line who then runs over and pops his balloon. Continue until one team has popped all of their balloons.
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Make water balloons by filling balloons up with water. Give each child a balloon. On the count of 3 the children must try to break the other children’s balloons without getting their own broken. The one left with an un-popped balloon wins.
Bean Bag Tic-Tac-Toe
This game is a variation of the game tic-tac-toe. Make a large tic-tac-toe board on the floor using masking tape. Divide the children into 2 teams. Each team is given beanbags that are marked with x’s for one team and o’s for the second team. The teams take turns tossing the beanbags into the squares. The first team to get three in a row wins.
Bean Bag Toss
Prepare different sized boxes ahead of time by decorating them. Have children stand behind a line and toss beanbags into the decorated boxes. Children can be awarded points for tossing the beanbag into the box based on difficulty. For example a small box that is farther away may be worth 5 points while a close box that is large may only be worth 2 points.
Biggest Smile Contest
Line the kids up sitting on the floor. One by one have the children smile as big as they can. Measure the length of each child’s smile with a ruler. The child with the biggest smile is the winner.
Birthday Party Wish
Arrange children in a circle. The first child begins the game by saying, “At my birthday party I wish to get _____________. “ The child fills in the sentence with a gift idea. The second child then says, “At my birthday party I wish to get (the child then repeats what the first child says then adds her own wish.) This continues all around the circle in the same order adding a new wish each time. If a child makes a mistake they are out. The last one to say the entire gift wishes in the right order wins.
Blind Man’s Bluff
Children need a lot of open space to play this game. One child who is chosen to be it is blindfolded and must count to 15. As “it” counts the other children find a place to hide in the room. When “it” gets to 15 he then yells “stop.” The other children must freeze where they are. “It” then says, “BLIND MAN’S” and the other children must each say, “BLUFF”. The frozen children may not move and “it” must try to find each of the other players blindfolded using only their voices as direction to them.
Bobbing for Apples
Fill a large tub with water and float apples on the water. Children take turns putting their face to the water trying to pick up an apple using just their teeth. Have lots of dry towels handy – the kids get really wet!
Cake Eating Contest
Arrange all of the children in a circle on the floor kneeling. They must clasp their hands behind their backs. Place in front of each child a paper plate with a piece of birthday cake on it. Call “go” and the children must eat the piece of cake as fast as possible. The first one to finish their cake is the winner!
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Divide the children into 2 teams. Decide on a start line and a finish line. The two teams line up at the start line. When the adult says, “go”, the children must wiggle their way to the finish line and back on their bellies. The first team to have all members cross the finish line wins!
Arrange the children sitting in a circle on the floor. One child begins the game by doing a motion such as touching her nose. The person sitting to her right must then copy her motion and add a new motion. The game continues with each child copying the previous motions and adding one of their own.
Select an area to be the stage. Arrange the children sitting in front of the stage. One at a time a child will come up and pick a slip of paper from a basket. These papers are made up ahead of time and contain the name of a popular movie, book, animal, character, etc. The child acts out whatever is written on the card while the other children try to guess what it is. Variation for younger children: Instead of writing the names on paper, an adult simply whispers an object or animal to the child.
Clothespin in the Bottle Drop
Use a large mouth jar and a clothespin to play this game. Set the jar on the ground. Each child stands in front of the jar and sees how many clothespins they can drop into the jar without bending over. Whoever gets the most clothespins in, wins.
The children will need lots of running space for this game. Children are given a clothespin to pin on the back of their shirt. On “go” the children must try to steal each other’s clothespins without losing their own. The player who gets the most clothespins in a given amount of time is the winner.
Doggy Doggy Where’s Your Bone?
Arrange all of the children sitting in a circle. Choose one person to be the doggy first. The doggy must go in the other room or sit where he cannot see the circle of children. The adult gives a bone to one of the children sitting in the circle (the bone may be a plastic bone, a block, or any other toy that can be easily hidden in a child’s lap). The child hides the bone in her lap. Then all of the children say together, “Doggy, doggy where’s your bone? Somebody stole it from your home.” At this cue, the doggy comes over to the circle and must choose who he thinks is hiding his bone. He gets 3 guesses. The child who was hiding the bone then gets to be the doggy. Continue the game until all children have had a turn being the doggy.
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Duck Duck Goose
This game is best played outside since it requires space for the children to run. Arrange children sitting in a circle. One person is it. He will go around the circle tapping each child gently on the head. As he taps he calls the child duck. Then on one child’s tap he will say “goose”. The child who is the goose must get up and chase the child who is it around the circle a full turn. The person who is it tries to run around the circle and sit back down in the goose’s spot without being tagged. If the goose tags the child then that child is out. If the goose does not tag the child then the goose then becomes “it” and the game begins again. You may vary this game to use a word or phrase that goes with the theme of the party.
Dramatized Chinese Whispers
Three people are taken out of the room. One is returned and must act out one of the following: changing the diapers of twins, or bathing an elephant (or think up your own ideas). Before they start, a second person is brought into the room and told to watch. When the first demonstration has been completed, the first person is allowed to retake their place and the second is told that they have to do what they have just seen. Again, before they start, the third person is brought in to see the demonstration. The games ends when the last person has done the mime, and is asked what they have just done.
Egg and Spoon Race
Divide the children into 2 teams. Arrange a start and finish line 30 feet apart. The first player on each team must carry an egg on a spoon from the start line to the finish line and back again. They must then pass the egg to the second player on their team without dropping the egg. The first team to successfully relay the egg through all players wins.
Variation: Instead of using eggs try small potatoes or even ping pong balls.
Children love to play this game. This game must be played in a room that has 4 corners in which the children can stand. An adult must tell the children the number of each corner from 1-4. One child is chosen to be “it”. She sits in a chair in the middle of the room and is blindfolded. She then counts out loud to 20. The other children must run to one of the 4 corners. When “it” gets to 20, she then calls out a number from 1-4. All the children that are standing in the number corner that is called, are out. Once there are 4 or less children left, the children are not allowed to go to the same corner – they must all choose different corners. The game continues until one child wins.
Divide the children into 2 teams and arrange them in a line, shoulder to shoulder. Give the first child in each line a piece of fruit. (You may choose any type of fruit- apple, orange, grapefruit for a real challenge). Have the first person in line hold an apple between his chin and neck. The child then passes the apple to the person standing next to him. The children may not use their hands but may only pass the fruit as they hold it under their chin. The team who successfully passes the apple all the way down the line without dropping it wins!
Arrange children in a circle on the floor. Spread out within the circle pieces of candy. Give each child 2 toothpicks and a bag. On “go” the children must fill their bags with candy as fast as they can using only the toothpicks. The children get to keep their bags of candy as a treat.
Guess How Many
Fill a jar with candy, marbles, peanuts, jellybeans, pennies or any other type of object. Give each child a turn as guessing the correct number of items in the jar. The child who guesses the right number of items, or comes closest, wins.
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Hats and Shoes
Begin by dividing the children into 2 teams. This game can be played with just hats and shoes or a variety of clothes. Put an equal number of clothes, shoes & hats into 2 bags. Each team is then given a bag. Children must, on “go”, put on all the items in the bag, run to the finish line, run back and take off the items. The next player in line repeats the same procedure. The team that gets all members dressed, across the finish line and back first wins.
Hide and Seek
This is a classic game for kids of all ages. One person is “it” and must hide their eyes and count to 30. As the child is counting the other children go and hide. When the person who is it is finished counting, he must go and seek all the children who are hiding. Once the children are discovered, they are out. The last child to be found wins.
Have 2 adults each hold a side of a rope. Beginning a ground level allow the children to jump over the rope. After each child has taken a turn raise the rope higher a little bit. The one who can jump the highest wins.
Arrange the children sitting in a circle. One person is the leader and must sit outside of the circle with his back to the children. Begin by passing a potato (or any other small object) around the circle. As the potato is passed each child must take it and pass it but not hold it longer than a second or two. When the leaders calls “Hot Potato” whoever is holding the potato at that time is out. Continue to play until there is one winner!
Variation: Instead of having a leader, an adult can stand with her back to the circle and turn the music on and off. When the music stops whoever is holding the potato is out.
Ice Cube Melt
Divide the children into 2 teams and arrange them in a row. The first player on each team is given an ice cube. The child must rub the ice cubes in his hands for as long as he can trying to melt the cube. He then passes it to the next child on his team. This continues until one team melts their ice cube and they are the winner.
Jump the Stream
Arrange 2 jump ropes parallel to each other on the grass a couple of inches apart. The children each take a turn jumping over the stream. Once all children have jumped, move the jump ropes apart a little more. Each child again jumps over the steam. If a child misses and lands in the water, they are out.
Have 2 adults each hold a side of a rope. Beginning at children’s shoulder level, allow the children to one at a time pass under the rope by bending backward. After each child has taken a turn lower the rope. The one who can limbo the lowest wins!
Place a variety of 15 – 20 objects on a tray. Cover the tray with a cloth. Have the children all sit in a circle. Place the tray in the middle of the circle for all children to see. Remove the cover. The children have 60 seconds to look at all objects on the tray. Cover the tray and remove from circle. The children must write down as many objects as they can remember that were on the tray. The winner is the one who remembered the most items.
Mother May I (or Father may I, or whatever fits your party theme!)
Line all children up on a start line and put one child on the finish line who is “Mother”. Mother will then tell each child, one at a time, to “take one giant step forward” or “do 3 spins forward” or “take 2 baby steps forward”. That player must then say “Mother May I?” Mother then gives permission to take the steps. If a child forgets to say, “mother may I?” then that child must return to the start line. The first child to cross the finish line wins and gets to be the Mother next.
Divide the children into teams of 3 players. Give each a roll of toilet paper and a roll of Scotch tape. Two of the children must wrap their third teammate, the mummy, with the roll of toilet paper as fast as they can. The winning team is the one who has the best-wrapped mummy. Remind the children to just wrap the mummies bodies and not their faces.
Arrange chairs in a line with every chair facing a different direction than the one next to it. There should be one less chair than children. As the music starts, the children march around the chairs in a circle. When the music stops, each child should quickly find a seat. Who ever is left without a seat is out. For the next round another chair is removed. This continues with each round having one less chair than child. The child who is left sitting at the end wins!
Variation: Tape an inflated balloon to the seat of each chair. As the children sit, they must pop the balloon!
To prepare for the game, cut out of construction paper large shapes and place around the floor. This game is played just like musical chairs but instead of sitting on chairs the children must find a spot on a shape.
To play this game children are each given the name of an animal. For younger children you can whisper the name of the animal and for older children you can give a slip of paper with the animal’s name written down. Let the children know that another child has the same animal as they do. They must ask each other questions to determine who their matching animal friend is.
This game is best played outside. Set up an obstacle course in your yard. You can get very creative with the things you have on hand to design a course. Time the children running through the course and give a prize to the child with the fastest time.
Designate 2 lines about 30 feet apart. Choose one child to be the octopus. She stands in the middle of the 2 lines while the other children, the little fish, stand on one of the lines. To begin the Octopus yells, “Swim” and all the little fish must run across the ocean to the other line. The Octopus tries to tag the little fish as they swim across the ocean. Any fish that are tagged become a tentacle of the Octopus by holding hands. The game continues until the last little fish to be caught is the winner.
This game is played with 4 children at a time while the others watch. Three of the children playing are given a piece of paper on which is written a description of a person or a character from a book or movie. A fourth person is the host of the party. As the guests “enter” the party they must act like the person described on the paper. The host child must try to guess what each guest represents. Some ideas might be: Peter Pan, a stunt man, a person who has just parachuted in…
Pass the Package
Wrap a gift (such as a chocolate bar) in a layer of newspaper. Continue wrapping the gift over and over until you have about 15 layers. (or more if you have a lot of children) To finish it off wrap the final layer in pretty gift paper.
Have the children sit in a circle and begin to play music. When the music stops, the person holding the package removes one and only one layer of wrapping. Continue until the last layer of wrapping paper has been removed. The winner keeps the gift. For younger children, have a gift for everyone.
Pick up Quarters
Children are each given a bucket of various coins (or children may take turns with one bucket). Then each child must put on a pair of mittens. The child then has 30 seconds to reach into the bucket and take out as many coins, one at a time, as they are able. Whoever picks out the most money wins.
Before the party, buy a piñata and stuff it with candy or other goodies. The children take turns hitting the piñata with a stick or bat until the piñata breaks.
Variations for older children: Blindfold the children so they aren’t able to see the piñata they are trying to hit. You can also tie the piñata so that it can be raised or lowered as the children attempt to hit it.
Pin the Tail on the Donkey
A large picture of a donkey (who is missing a tail) is attached to a wall. Give each child a tail with tape on one side. Blindfold the children, spin and let them try to pin the tail on the donkey. Who ever pins the tail closest to the correct place wins. You may vary this traditional and well-loved game to fit the theme of your party. For example you may want to pin the spots on the Dalmatian, or pin the nose on the clown.
Red Light Green light
All children all lined up on a starting line. One child who is chosen to be “it” stands on the finish line. “It” shuts his eyes and calls out “green light”. At this signal, the other children begin to run towards the finish line. Then “it” calls “red light” and opens his eyes. The other players, when they hear “red light” must freeze. The first child to reach the finish line wins and gets to be “it” next time.
Divide the children into 2 teams. Each teams makes a line by holding hands and stretching the line out. The two teams are arranged facing each other about 20 feet apart. One team begins by saying, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send (child’s name on other team) over.” The child whose name was called runs from his line and tries to break through the hands of the children on the other team. If he successfully breaks through he then chooses one opponent to take back to his team with him. If he does not break through he must stay on the opposing team. The team to get the most players wins.
Younger children: Prepare by decorating 2 big boxes. Divide children into 2 teams and line them up a short distance from the boxes. Using a hula hoop the children toss the hoop around the box. Allow each child three tries to toss the hoop around the box. The team that gets the most hoops around the boxes wins!
Older children: Make a rings by cutting the center our of paper plates. Fill 2 liter soda bottles with water. Divide the children into 2 teams and have each child take turns ringing the bottles. The team that gets the most rings wins!
For this race, use kitchen trash bags. Line up the children with each standing in a trash bag. Make a finish line about 20-25 feet away. When the kids are ready, yell go and have the children jump in their bags towards the finish line. The first child to cross the finish line wins.
Divide the kids into teams. You can vary the amount of teams and players on a team according to how many kids you have. Make a list of 25 – 30 items. The teams must go and collect all the items on the list and report back in one hour. The winning team is the one that returns with everything on the list.
Prior to the party you must prepare your scoops by cutting the bottom out of gallon milk containers. To play the game, pair the children up and each pair stands facing each other about a foot apart. Using the scoop, the child tosses the bean bag to his partner. The partner must catch it with her scoop. All teams that successfully catch the beanbag must then take a step backward to separate themselves farther apart. The game continues until you have one team that hasn’t missed!
This is a great game for toddlers and preschoolers. The children each remove one of their shoes and put them in a big pile. The children are then taken to another room and told to sit quietly. An adult then hides each of the shoes around the room. The children then come in the room and find their own shoe.
This is a classic game that children love. One person is chosen to be Simon. Simon stands in front of the children and gives directions. When Simon says, “Simon says (jump up and down)”, the children must do what Simon says. But when Simon just says, “Jump up and down” (without saying “Simon Says”) the children should not do it. Whoever makes a mistake is out. The winner is the last one left.
Arrange the children on the floor sitting in a circle. Choose one child to be the bear. The bear sits in the middle of the circle. A small cup is placed in front of the bear and the bear is blindfolded. One child is selected to sneak up and steal the bear’s honey pot. The child must then hide the cup in her lap. The bear gets 3 guesses to figure out which child stole her honey. The children then change places and the honey stealer becomes the bear. Repeat until all children have a turn to be the bear.
Arrange children sitting in chairs in a circle. Give each child a card with a station name on it. One child, the conductor, stands in the middle of the circle with a list of all the stations. The conductor then calls off two station names from the list. The children who are the called out stations have to change places quickly, before the conductor can get to one of their chairs. Who ever is left without a chair is the conductor for the next game.
Begin by having the children dance to music. When the music stops the children must freeze like statues. Anyone who moves is out. The last statue left is the winner.
Divide the children into 2 teams. Team 1 stands in front of team 2 for 1 minute so that team 2 can carefully look at how team 1 is dressed. Team 1 then goes into a different room and each person on the team switches various articles of clothing or accessories with each other. Team 1 then returns to team 2 and team 2 must guess all of the switches, which have been made. The game is repeated with team 2. The team that guessed the most switches is the winner.
Sit the children down in a circle. To begin, whisper a long phrase to one person. They, in turn, whisper what they heard to the next person, and so on. The last person announces what they heard.
Variation: The first player draws an object on a piece of paper. The second player is allowed to view it for 10 seconds, and then draws the similar object on his sheet of paper, shows it to the third etc. The players then compare the first drawing with the last.
Three Legged Race
Divide the children into teams. Arrange each team side by side on the starting line and designate a finishing line 25 feet or so away. As the teams stand side by side holding hands, their adjacent ankles are tied together. When the whistle blows, the teams make their way to the finish line. The first to cross wins!
Children love to collect things making this game a favorite at parties. Give children their own bag or basket. A scavenger hunt works much like an Easter egg hunt. The children go in search of the hidden treasures. Some ideas are: coins, candy, or prizes.
One child is it. They must try to tag the other children. If a child is tagged, they must freeze, standing up, with their feet apart. The only way that they can become free is if someone crawls through their legs. The game is over when all of the children have been tagged and there is no one left to tunnel through. The first person tagged is then it.
Tug of War
This is a classic game. Divide the children into 2 evenly matched teams. Using a rope the children grab hold and must as a team try to pull the other team across a designated line.
One child is chosen to be “it”. “It” must think of an animal, vegetable, mineral, etc. and write it down on a piece of paper. The children then one at a time can ask 20 questions to find out what “it” wrote down. The children are only allowed to ask yes or no questions. Whoever correctly guesses the answer gets to be “it”.
Unwrap the Gum
Give each child a pair of mittens and a piece of individually wrapped Bazooka bubble gum. At “go” the children must unwrap their piece of gum while wearing the mittens and chew it quickly. The first child to blow a bubble wins.
Water Balloon Toss
Have water balloons prepared ahead of time. Pair the children up. If you have an uneven number of children then an adult will have to stand in. To begin, the children stand facing their partner with one of them holding a balloon. They all toss their balloons to their partner. If they catch the balloon then they each must take one step backwards making the distance between them greater. If the balloon pops the team is out. The game continues until there is a winning team.
Water Relay Race #1
The object of this game is to fill a glass of water. Line up children in two even rows (four players on each side). The first child in line dips a cup in the bucket of water and then carefully runs to an empty bucket 10 feet away. He then runs back and gives the empty cup to the next child in line. This child then dips the cup in the bucket of water and then carefully runs to the bucket. The first team who finishes with the most water in the bucket wins!
Variation for older children: Instead of using a cup, use a spoon.
Water Relay Race #2
Divide the children into 2 teams and arrange them in a line. Place a bucket of water in front of the first child in line on each team and a bucket in front of the last child on each team. Give each child in line a small cup. The object is to transfer the water from the first bucket to the last bucket by passing from cup to cup. The first player in line dips his cup into the water bucket then pours the water from his cup into the next child in line’s cup. The last child in line then dumps his water into the last bucket. The first team to finish emptying the first bucket into the last bucket with the most water wins!
Variation for older children: Instead of giving each child a cup to transfer water, give each child a spoon.
What’s my Line
One child is chosen to leave the room while all other children sit on the floor in a circle. While the one child is away the other children must decide what she should be when she returns. Then when the child returns she will ask of the group, “what do I have to buy for myself” For example, if they decide that she should be a ballerina the first person may answer, “ballet shoes” or a “tutu”. This continues all the way around the circle with each child naming something different the “ballerina” should buy. When all children have had a turn, she must then try to guess who she is.
What is It?
Arrange the children in a circle. Put several small items into a brown paper sack. Pass the sack around the circle and let each child take turns feeling the objects. Once all children have felt the objects they must either write down or whisper to the leader what the objects were. Whoever gets the most objects right, wins.
What’s that Smell
Fill paper bags with various smelly items. Some ideas are coffee beans, oranges, cheese, etc. Pass the bags around the circle and let the kids smell without looking inside the bag. Whoever gets the most smells right, wins.
Pair up the children and line the pairs up at the starting line. The goal is to race the wheelbarrow to the finish line which is designated 30 feet or so away. To make a wheelbarrow, one child gets down on all fours while her partner stands in back of her and carefully lifts up her legs while the first child supports herself with her hands.
Give each child 3 saltine crackers. When you say go, the children must eat the crackers as fast as they can. The first one who is able to whistle wins!
Who am I
This is a good game to play as children arrive to a party. A piece of paper is pinned to the back of each child. On the paper is the name of a character or famous person. The child will then go around to other guests and ask them questions to find out the name of their character or person. The questions must only be questions that can be answered with a yes or no answer. At the end of the allotted time, the children must each guess who they are.
Variation with you
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