What did you enjoy about parties as a child?
I consider myself lucky to have had Birthdays with party games, party food, party rings and jelly! While other class mates invited the whole class to the soft play or bowling parties, I was allowed to choose ten friends to come to my party where we would play games, have party food, laugh (lots!) and be silly in my own house.
Yes, it was tough to choose 10 friends. Yes it was hard to send the invites knowing that they were ‘just’ coming to my house. But actually, really truly, they were great and I have such fond memories of those parties. My mum always pulled the stops out. She made the cake and would organise all the games - some were serious, some competitive and some messy. And when I had children, I experienced all of this from the ‘other side’ as an adult.
There I was in the playground talking to the mums and dads about the next child’s party. They would start at MacDonalds or a local pub chain and then progress -inviting magicians, discos, football parties, bowling parties, princess parties, fire engine parties, limousines, the list is endless. Don’t get me wrong, they were brilliant and I take my hat off to the parents who did organise these and the money they invested each year. But me personally? I found it difficult enough to organise my children’s daily routine let alone anything like that.
But traditional parties with games and party food in the house? As I type, I feel like I’m wrapping myself in a blanket of fun times and special moments that were simple to create and in their manner allowed for improvisation and adaptability, which is an essential tool when dealing with children.
"I feel like I’m wrapping myself in a blanket of fun times"
At these parties you got to play games with your friends and family. Games that you could all take part in whatever your age or ability. Even that annoying little brother or sister or the older sibling who could enjoy taking a lead role in some of the games. And more often than not they were simple, quick, often funny and also with music.
And for a parent, the party games were so easy to arrange and play. I remember other parents looking at me in horror and saying but ‘you have to lead the games’. Children naturally play. Children live in their own little worlds most of the time. Give them an idea and permission to explore, have a go and they are off.
Run up to Christmas
Exciting and fun, but often a lot to do and arrange on top of all of your daily routine. You may feel you don’t have as much time to spend with the children, and it’s possible they can feel this. The busier you become, the more demanding they become. And in addition, their excitement is cranking up as they open advent calendar windows, practise Christmas shows at school, see all the decorations and lights and feel the magic of Christmas in the air. They want the attention you want to give, but you can’t see how you can find the time.
So I say to you, why not try taking five minutes out to play a party game? With a little effort, you are transported back to your own childhood and find yourself laughing and playing with all the family. And that five minutes can trigger your child’s imagination. Afterwards they might disappear and explore their own games and ideas and start to play together. And another time they can share their new games with you. This is the beautiful magic of play.
"Children naturally play"
It is true. Parties can require a lot of preparation, buying and cooking food, buying the presents for party bags, deciding on the guest list, sending invitations and following them up, wondering what to wear, the decorations…I could go on…
Impromptu ‘parties’ i.e the games themselves, the spirit of the party, the fun, the music, the laughter, the singing. These can happen whenever and wherever you like. They can require little or no prep. Just some music, from a speaker or your own voice , maybe a few things from around the house, and as little or as much time as you can spare.
Right then, enough chit chat let’s get down to the games you can play. Here are some simple ideas to get you started:
Ideas for Children's Party Games at Home
This is a version of musical chairs without having to move the furniture. Throw cushions or hats on the floor and when the music stops you have to sit on a cushion or put on a hat. Each round take away one of the cushions / hats.
Never played musical chairs? Find out how to play!
PASS THE BAG
This does require a small bag, pillow case or something to put some things in. The game is like pass the parcel without having to do layers of wrapping. When the music stops, you look in the bag. If you have some percussion instruments from the toy-box great. If not here’s some alternatives you could use (basically anything that can make a bit of noise) :
- 2 saucepan lids for cymbals
- A lid or saucepan
- a wooden spoon for a drum
- 2 wooden spoons rhythm sticks
- jar of rice/salt/coffee to shake for maracas
- keys to jangle for bells.
Don’t have time to look for these things? Make finding these items part of the game and involve the children by challenging them to find 2 things each that make a noise.
Once you have your items, put them in the bag. Pass the bag around the circle and when the music stops, whoever has the bag, takes out an instrument and stands up to play their instrument while everyone claps. When the music stops, pass the bag again and off you go!
There are many variations to this, one includes putting in objects and when the music stops, the person with the bag has to close their eyes and put their hand in the bag. Ask them to describe what they are feeling and try to guess what it is.
Turn on the music and start to dance. When the music stops, you all freeze and count to 10. Nobody needs to be out unless you want to make it competitive. Have someone take turns to do the music. You could also have the first one to move has to do a forfeit (see below for forfeit ideas!).
Looking for good music to play for your game? Find it here!
Variation of Musical statues:
When the music stops, freeze into the shape which relates to the word the leader calls out e.g Square, Circle, Tall, Small, Tiny, Monster, Spiky, Ball, Star, Curvy, Short, Long. Depending on how many people are playing, these shapes could be made on your own or you have to find a partner to make the shape together.
When the music stops sit on the ground. First one down gets to be in charge of the music. Or you can use the forfeits. If you have treats - chocolate buttons/healthy snacks in the house one can be given to the first one to sit down.
ONLY TWO OF YOU TO PLAY?
You can both play musical statues together, making shapes when the music stops. Dance around the kitchen with your baby and make a shape when the the music stops or tickle/cuddle/kiss/swing/spin round with your baby when the music stops.
Each grab an instrument e.g. pots, pans, kitchen roll tubes as a trumpet and march around the house while playing and singing along to your favourite songs. Whoever is the leader can choose how to move. You could start by marching, then you could shuffle, tiptoe, dance ...
Choose your favourite song and turn it into a clapping game (you can find out clapping games for World Nursery Rhyme Week HERE) Teach your child to clap and pat - pat a cake and off you go! You can clap and pat as you sing, then introduce different actions as you sing. You'll be amazed how quickly those games in the playground come flooding back!
TEN FORFEITS - a few to get you started!
- Touch your nose with your toe
- Tap your elbows together
- Lie on your back and pretend you are riding a bike to be tickled
- To run upstairs and bring back something of a given shape or colour
- Pull a funny face
- Recite the alphabet
- Sing a song
- Count backwards from 10
- Sing/say something while gargling water
I hope you have lots of laughter and fun playing these games and that they encourage you to adapt them and come up with your own ideas! I'll be back soon with some more Christmas ideas soon and until then... Happy playing!