12 Old Fashioned Birthday Party Games for Kids

I'm currently planning my son's next birthday party. It's a Davey Crockett theme - and while I usually try to tailor the party games to go with the theme, this time around, I'm finding that at little tricky. But after some thought, I realized good old fashioned party games really fit any birthday theme. Plus, they are classics for a reason. Namely, they are lots of fun! Here are some of our favorites:

1. Musical Chairs. This game is easy to customize by the music you choose. I usually just select something off YouTube (it's free!) and play it on my laptop. (For example, this time around, we'll use "The Ballad of Davey Crockett." For our scarecrow party, I found a children's song about scarecrows. For our Little House on the Prairie party, I found fiddle music.) To play, put as many chairs as you have children - minus one - in a circle. Turn on some music and let the kids walk around the chairs. When you stop the music, they all try to get their own seat. The child who can't get a seat is out of the game. Remove another chair and play again. Continue until only one child is left.
12 Old Fashioned Birthday Party Games for Kids
Musical Chairs.

2. Bean Bag Toss. Bean bags are super easy to make. Just cut some squares from felt, sew (or hot glue) three edges, fill with dry beans, and sew (or hot glue) the fourth edge. You can toss these bags into cups, bowls, muffin tins, or homemade bean bag toss boxes made from cardboard. If you want the toss game to tie into a theme, you can easily get a picture onto poster board and paste it onto the cardboard box. (I'm not an artist; if I can do it, you can, too! For an example of how I did this for our horse party, click here. Incidentally, for that party, I substituted crab apples for bean bags; when the game was over, we fed the bruised apples to our chickens. For our upcoming Davey Crockett party, we're tossing bean bags into my son's dress up "coonskin" hat.)
Bean Bag Toss.
3. Pin the Tail. My kids always want to play this game at their parties. Again, it's easy to customize. I just Google a drawing or coloring page of something related to the party theme, enlarge it for free over at Block Posters, print it out, have a child color it, and paste it onto cardboard or poster board. To play, blindfold a child and give her whatever she should pin on to the poster. (For example, at our princess and knight party, the children pinned the tail on the dragon. That year, my mother - an artist - painted the game onto poster board, shown below.) We use double sided tape on the back of the tails. Once the child gets the tail on the poster, remove her blindfold and have another child give it a try. The one who comes closest to pinning the tail in the correct location, wins.

Pin the Tail.

4. Apple Bobbing. Another huge favorite here. To play, fill a large tub or pot with apples. The game is easier if the apples have stems. If you can't find apples with stems, choose smaller apples (sometimes sold in bags as "kid sized"). Each child tries to grab an apple with his teeth only, and pull it out of the tub. If you don't like the idea of kids biting into an apple someone else's mouth may have been on, do a modern variation and tie stemmed apples (or firm donuts) onto strings and hang them. In this variation, the child who eats the most of the apple or donut (without having most of it fall to the ground) wins.

Apple Bobbing.
5. Sack Race. So much fun! I bought inexpensive "potato" sacks online a few years ago, and we've used them for several parties now. To play, each child puts her feet and legs inside the sack and lines up. When a signal is given, the children hop to the finish line.
Sack Race.
6. Tug of War. Get a fat rope and tie knots at each end. Mark the center of the rope with paint, a colored rubber band, or a kerchief. Divide the kids into two groups; each group grabs one end of rope and tries to pull the center mark over a line on the ground. If you have kids of different ages, be sure to put the bigger/stronger ones at the ends of the rope and the littler ones closer to the middle. And play the game on grass, not concrete!

7. Spitting Contest. A few years back, we used this one for a Little House on the Prairie party. You can use any kind of larger seed - though I think watermelon seeds or cherry pits work best. Give the kids seeds or pits and have each one try to spit it as far as she can. (I recommend having them eat the watermelon or cherries first; it's part of the fun...and saves you some work!) It's helpful to use cheap plastic tablecloths on the ground. you can mark where each person's pit landed by using a Sharpie.
Spitting Contest.
8. Eating Contest. Again, you can use almost anything: Watermelon, cake, you name it. Give each child one piece and see who can finish it first!

9. Blind Man's Bluff. Blindfold one child and spin him around a few times. The other children must walk around making noise while the blindfolded child tries to catch them. Once the "blind man" catches someone, he guesses who it is. If he's right, another child gets blindfolded and the game begins anew.

10. Spoon Relay. Again, this is pretty easy to customize. One year, we used plastic Easter eggs (which we called "dinosaur eggs"). Another year, when kitties were the theme, we used Goldfish crackers. Give each child a teaspoon. Set an egg in the spoon (or have the children scoop up something - like crackers - into their spoon). They must balance it carefully as they walk a course. If they drop the egg (or whatever you're using), they must start over. Whoever gets across the finish line first, wins. To make the game more challenging, divide kids up into teams and have the first child pass over their egg to another child who must complete the relay.
Spoon Relay.
11. Peanut Roll. I don't think I've ever seen everyone laugh so hard as when we played this game. Place a peanut in it's shell in front of every child, on the floor. The children must roll it across the room with their noses only. The first one to get theirs over the finish line wins. You can get creative with this one, too. For example, at our kitty party, we used balls of yarn instead of peanuts.
Peanut Roll.
12. Pinata. There's no doubt about it. Kids love pinatas. I usually buy ours online for $20 or so, but you can also make them (a fun project for the kids!). You can also easily convert a traditional pinata into a pull string pinata suitable for younger kids or indoor use.

Some Kid's Birthday Parties Mentioned in This Post:

* Knight & Princess Party
* Horse Party - with Cowgirls & Cowboys
* Little House on the Prairie Birthday Party
* Dinosaur Party

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