Children at outdoor party playing tug o war.

5 Party Games for Children

A little planned entertainment can go a long way at a children’s party. Games encourage children to engage one another, whether they’re cooperating or competing. There are plenty of old standbys such as Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Hot Potato, and Musical Chairs, but the kids might be looking for something new, and you’ll be the hero of the party if you can provide it.

Scavenger Hunt

The great thing about scavenger hunts is that they are easily tailored to the age range of involved children. For small children, items should be fairly obvious and available on the premises. Older kids may be able to scour the neighborhood. Teenagers might be challenged with puzzles in order to identify the intended items.

Dress Up Relay

For Dress Up Relay, divide children into two teams and line them up. At the end of the relay course, place a collection of clothing big enough for all the children to wear. The first child in line runs to the clothes and puts all of them on over their own clothes. Then, they remove the clothes and run back to their line where the second child repeats the exercise. First team to have all players complete the task wins.

two group of kids playing with colorful hoops and throw them on cones while competing with each other during a summer children's party

Greetings, O Great One

It’s always a good idea to have some indoor games on hand, even if the party is planned to be outdoors. Weather is a fickle thing. Greetings, O Great One does not take up a lot of space and does not require children to run around.
Place one child in the center of a circle, blindfold them, and spin them around three times. Then, one by one, the other children say “Greetings O great one!” in a funny voice. The child in the center needs to guess who the speaker is. If the child guesses correctly, the child who spoke now goes to the center and another child in the circle repeats the phrase.

Team Balloon Pop

For Team Balloon Pop, divide everyone into two teams and line them up. On the other end of the game space, place enough blown up balloons so there’s enough for everyone. There should also be a chair for each team near the balloons. The first child in the line runs to the balloons, places one of them on the chair, and attempts to pop it without using their hands. Then, they run back to their team and the next person in line repeats the process.

Tell Me a Story

Tell Me a Story allows children to create their own collective story. The first child gives the first four words. The second child picks up where the first left off, adding four more words. This is continued until every child has had a certain number of turns.

Children can often entertain themselves, especially when there are distractions such as toys or a playground. However, organized games keep children on their toes even when other entertainment is limited or they have lost interest in it. Most games require little to no preparation and are light on the wallet, so you can make sure everyone at a children’s party has an enjoyable experience.

Images copyright: serrnovik / 123RF Stock Photo and diego_cervo / 123RF Stock Photo.

group of happy kids on children playground

How to Throw a Playground Birthday Party

Outdoor birthday parties are great for kids born in the summer months, but the size of a backyard can seriously limit the number of guests which can be invited. One alternative is to move to a local park with a playground, which offers both space and entertainment for your birthday party.

Find the Right Location

Not every park will suit your specific needs. Consider:

  • Is the play equipment age appropriate?
  • Are there picnic tables? If not, you’ll need to bring blankets, and things are likely to get more messy.
  • Is a permit necessary? Some parks require permits for large groups of people. They generally do not cost much, but you may need to file the application several weeks in advance.
  • Are there potential dangers? For example, a park on a lake may not be the best place for a party of toddlers.
  • Does it offer grills? If it doesn’t, are you allowed to bring your own?
  • Does it offer restrooms? Many parks do not have restrooms, and those which do generally only have them open for part of the year.
  • Is there a pavilion? Certainly, you do not need a pavilion, but they offer plenty of benefits. They contain numerous benches, which might be difficult to get a hold of if you’re organizing your event outside the shelter. They also generally have drinking fountains and restrooms. Finally, they provide relief from the sun, which may be welcomed more by the adults than the kids.

Bring Enough Supervision

Since the kids are not confined to a backyard, you’ll need even more adults helping keep the children corralled. Again, this is most applicable with very small children who can easily become lost or injured.

photo of a beautiful mother and her daughter blowing soap bubbles on the playground at the park

Bring Entertainment

Kids like variety. Some may play on the play equipment the entire time, but others may want multiple distractions. Balls, sidewalk chalk and bubbles are all good distractors.

Plan Transportation

Remember that everything you want at the park has to be brought there. The cake will need to be boxed up, and nothing can be put on top of it. Helium balloons take up a ton of space. If space considerations are an issue, do a test run the day before to make sure you can fit everything (including children) into the car. If there’s too much, ask one of the other parents to swing by and transport some of it for you.

Plan for Rain

The biggest downside to planning a party at a park is the danger of rain. You can’t simply bring the party indoors. Watch the weather forecasts. You should cancel at least a day in advance to make sure you notify everyone.

Playground parties are an affordable way to entertain sizable numbers of kids. Planning is pretty minimal, but it is important. Make sure you know your location: the amenities it offers, possible dangers, and rules and regulations. This can make for a great summer birthday for the kids without overly taxing the adults.

Images copyright: dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo and ximagination / 123RF Stock Photo.

Little boy pointing at goal

Hunting for the Perfect Party

Scavenger Hunt parties are infinitely customizable. For very small children, you can plant items in a backyard or park and let them seek them out. As participants get older, the game can expand around the neighborhood, then around town as cars become available.

And scavenger hunts don’t have to involve picking up objects. If you can trust players with cameras, they can simply photograph the desired object. This means targets can be buildings, monuments, places of interest and anywhere else.

You can also require actions to be performed and photographed, such as cracking an egg over a teammate’s head, doing a head stand in an elevator, or sitting with police officers in a donut shop.

Different goals can have point values as well. The harder it is to accomplish, the more points are rewarded on completion.

Scavenger Hunt Themes

A boy and girl search for objects to collectScavenger hunts certainly don’t require a theme. You can grab a bunch of things that amuse you, give them point values, and send everyone on their way.

But themes can really turn the game into an adventure, especially for children. You can focus on historic landmarks and have them collect information from information plaques. For small children, you can use plastic dinosaurs or other coveted items and hide them around the game space.

The mall can become a great location for a scavenger hunt. Just make sure it’s clear what items need to be photographed and what items need to be brought back in person. The latter are generally things you can get for free, like a restaurant menu, not a new sweater.

You can be as general or specific as you want. Make them search for neon blue athletic shoes. Have them photograph the ugliest prom dress, with you awarding points based on hideousness. Make them return with a free sample of cologne.

Or get the kids out into nature. They can search for different colored plants, different shapes of leaves, kinds of trees, animals, bugs, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Preparation and Rules

Before you put together your list, scope out the area of play so you know what’s available. It’s no fun to look for acorns in a forest with no oak trees. Make sure what you want is available, and gauge how difficult it will be for players to find it.

Before handing out lists, make sure everyone understands the rules. The can include:

  • When everyone has to return to submit their finds
  • The boundaries of the game area, if there is one
  • Rules regarding children’s relationship with an adult supervisor, such as how far they can wander from the adult
  • Whether teams can divide up, or whether they are required to work together
  • Respecting other people’s property. No trespassing, no damaging of items to reach a goal, no taking of objects that are meant to be photographed.
  • Safety first. If you cannot find a safe way of reaching an objective, move on to another one.

There’s a million things you can do with scavenger hunts, and they’re super scalable. Small groups and big groups, young kids, teens and adults, this is an adventure which can entertain all of them.

Kids having fun in the kitchen baking

Sweet Treat Baking Parties

Looking for a non-traditional party idea for kids? Want to make it educational, even if the children don’t realize it? Consider a baking party, where kids can build their own treats and be entertained while doing it.

First, prep the work area. This is going to get messy. Also, this is likely a birthday party, so let’s dress it up to celebrate! For your own sanity, cover work areas with plastic table cloths or butcher paper, then decorate with strips of colorful wrapping paper.

Second, prepare all of the needed tools. Make sure you have enough bowls, spatulas, sprinkles, cookie cutters, whatever is appropriate for your project. You’d hate to discover something is missing halfway through preparations, forcing things to stop or limiting how many children can participate.

Once the kids arrive, get them dressed for the part. Buy paper chef hats and cheap aprons, then get out the markers, glue, glitter, even scrapbooking materials. Every child gets a keepsake that just might encourage them to continue cooking long after the party’s over.

Father cooking with two children

Make sure your project is age appropriate. Younger children are going to be more messy, have shorter attention spans and need more supervision. Older children, on the other hand, will want a challenge. Plan your project accordingly. Possibilities include:

  • Cookies. Cookies are a great project for all ages. For younger children, buy store bought dough, then let kids roll it out, cut it up with cookie cutters and decorate with sprinkles. Older kids can make dough from scratch. And, of course, there will be enough for kids to bring a few home.
  • Cupcakes. Cupcake projects can also be adjusted by age. Buy a mix or make from scratch, prep some of the ingredients beforehand or let the kids do all the work.
  • Personal pizzas. Pizza is the ultimate is baking party personalization. Kids can decide which ingredients to add and how much. You might want to ask parents what toppings their kids like so you’re prepared. You’ll want to use store-bought dough: making your own is extremely time consuming.

If you have a sizable number of children, break them into small groups when each group having its own project. These projects might all be the same, or they can differ from one another, so that every group makes a different kid of cookie, for example. Small groups allow every child to be actively involved in their project rather than being relegated to observation. You may want an adult assisting each group, depending on the complexity of the project and the ages of the children.

Baking parties are great year-round activities that teach kids to love a skill they’ll need for the rest of their lives. They’re affordable and scalable, able to be tailored to any number of kids and their ages. Just remember this is one of the more messy options for a party, so plan accordingly, prepping the space and potentially employing other adults for assistance.

sisters playing Pokemon Go

Turn Pokemon Go Into a Great Party

Pokemon Go is already a phenomena. If your friends or kids have a love of the game, why not turn it into an enjoyable event?

First, you’ll need someplace worth playing. Some areas are loaded with Pokemon, others hardly at all. Good places are generally high traffic locations like downtown areas or locations of cultural significance. You can use PokeVision (when it’s running) to see how many creatures are spawning at a specific place. Then check it out in person. You may find Pokemon there are spread more or less far apart than they looked on-screen.

If this is for children, safety is an issue. Are the children old enough to not wander into the street while looking at their cell phones? Consider how much supervision these children will need in public and make arrangements with some of the other parents.

One drawback of Pokemon Go is it’s difficult to eat or drink while playing. At the very least, you should plan breaks where players can get drinks. You may also want to plan for a meal. This gives everyone time to recuperate and regain energy to keep playing. If it’s particularly hot out, it also gives everyone a respite from the heat.

Adults sometimes turn Pokemon parties into pub crawls. Players will wander the streets catching Pokemon and duck into bars for a drink. Besides merging two things many people love, there’s also a good possibility of meeting like-minded individuals. Just be safe about it. Pub crawls generally happen at night, and that offers complications. And public intoxication is a crime even if you are playing Pokemon.

Children playing Pokemon Go at a PokeStop
Group of smiling children posing at urban street with mobile devices

There are a few benefits of planning a group outing. One, people can coordinate to find more desirable Pokemon. Two, it’s a social outing like any other. Three, lures are amazing,

Free lures are rare, but you can buy them for less than a dollar. Drop one on a Pokestop, and Pokemon are attracted to the location for the next 30 minutes. It gets really fun if two or three Pokestops are close together, and you can drop lures on all of them. People just sit down, hang out, and gobble up Pokemon.

Active lures are visible in the game from some distance, so a great way of motivating people to keep moving is to keep dropping lures ahead of the group.

Critics have complained that Pokemon Go interferes with socialization. Instead, players obsess over a game on their phones. In fact, people can do both. Plenty of people, adults and children, play the game in groups, and there’s lots of goofing around in between Pokemon catches. It’s a hobby like any other, and lots of people plan parties around common interests. So why not Pokemon?

Older Kids Jumping with Pool Toys

5 Ways To Keep Your Pool Party Safe

Summer is here, and what better way for the kids to enjoy the sun than with a pool party? But let’s keep everyone safe around the water. Here’s 5 ways to keep everyone safe at your next pool party.

1. Require Parent Attendance

Parents should not be dropping their children off at a pool party. Make it clear on the invitations that parent attendance in required. There is no way you can safely supervise numerous small children all at once.

For children who cannot swim, a parent needs to be with them in the pool at all times, even if they are supposed to remain in the shallow end where they can stand. It’s easy for a small child to slip and not be able to stand up once fully underwater. They can also easily wander into deeper water or be pushed by other children.

For parents of older children who can swim, it may be fine for them to lounge at the side of the pool and socialize. The just need to remember to keep an eye on their kid.

2. Designate a Lifeguard

Even with parents in attendance, it’s a good idea to have someone acting as lifeguard, watching the entire pool rather than being focused on a single kid. This should also be someone who is a strong swimmer who can perform a rescue if necessary.

3. Clear the Area of Non-Swimmers

Children should be kept well away from the pool area if they are not getting into or out of the pool. This avoids the potential for slip and falls. The area should also be kept free of toys, drinks and other objects which are tripping hazards.

Little kid at the pool in inflatable ring

4. Require Parent Permission to Get in the Water

It’s vitally important for children to approach the pool only when an adult knows they are going to be there. There may come a time when everyone expected to get out of the pool, such as for food. Children sneaking back to the pool without supervision creates a dangerous situation. This reinforces the need for parents to keep an eye on their children even when they are not expected to be in the pool.

5. Cover Pool Rules at the Beginning of the Party

Before anyone goes into the water, review all rules with the children. They can’t be expected to know them if no one tells them, and you shouldn’t presume they’ve been taught by other sources. Besides things already mentioned here, rules might include:

  • No running near the pool
  • No jumping into the pool, or only jumping in designated areas
  • No pushing people underwater
  • No pushing people into the pool
  • No drinks in or near the pool