Awesome Traditional Party Games For Kids

Traditional party games for kids like “pin the tail on the donkey” “duck, duck, goose and “Simon says” are just a few of the many great games that we all remember from our childhood. They may seem “old fashioned” or passé when compared to all the fancy electronic kid games available today. But don’t let that fool you. These traditional party games for kids have been around for generations because they fun, exciting, and kids love’m!

Still thinking they might be a little out-of-date? It’s easy to breath new life into any seemly old game. Just tweak it to your kid’s “current” birthday party theme (“Pin the tail on the Donkey” easily turns into “Pin the hat on Bob the Builder”).


15 Traditional Birthday Party Games for Kids

Here’s our list of some of the most beloved traditional party games for kids:

Simon Says Pass The Present Hot Potato
Musical Pillows Duck, Duck, Goose Musical Chairs
“Fruit Basket” Musical Chairs “Grab Bag” Musical Chairs “Animal Antics” Musical Chairs
Hot and Cold Telephone Giant Steps
Pin the Tail on the Donkey Limbo Guess How Many

Click Here For Lots More Kid Party Game Ideas

 

Simon Says

This is certainly of the the old time favorite party games for kids!

Style: Competitive

Type: Traditional Party Games for Kids

What You’ll Need:

  • Enough room for the kids to spread out.

How to Play:

  1. Choose one player to be Simon.
  2. Simon’s job is to call out, “Simon says (describe an action)”, while demonstrating the action.
  3. The players have to immediately mimic that action.
  4. If Simon calls out a command without saying “Simon says” then the kids should ignore that command. For example, if Simon says, “Put your hands on your head” any player who moves puts his hands on his head is out and must leave the game.
  5. Simon can also trick players by doing a movement without saying anything at all. Any kid who copies the movement is out.
  6. The fast Simon gives commands the more confused the players get.
  7. The last player left wins the game and becomes the next Simon.

Variations:

  • For really young kids select an adult to be Simon and make sure to give some really silly commands.
  • Change Simon’s name. Have the kid’s use their own name or a name related to your party theme like “Rubber Ducky Says”, “Captain Says”, or “Barbie Says”.
  • For larger groups have each kid get a partner and have Simon give commands that the kids and do to their partners (“Simon says mess up your partner’s hair” or “Simon says touch your teammate’s nose”).
  • Have the group line up in a straight line and have “Simon” stand about 5 feet in front of the them. Each time someone messes up the rest of the group takes a step forward.

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Pass The Present

All kids love presents. That’s why this one’s a favorite for kids!

Style: Non-competitive

Type: Traditional Party Games for Kids

What You’ll Need:

  • A present wrapped in multiple layers of paper and boxes. (Nest the boxes and wrap each box separately.) One layer for each kid so everyone gets a turn.
  • Small trinket – the innermost box should contain enough prizes for each kid.
  • Music and a music player (e.g.: CD player or tape deck).

How to play:

  1. Have the kids sit in a circle.
  2. Then start the music and have the kids pass the present around.
  3. Stop the music every now and then. The kid holding the present gets to unwrap one layer to find a small treat.
  4. Start the music again and have the kid pass the present around again.
  5. Watch where you stop the music so that each kid has a turn.
  6. Continue the game until the present is completely unwrapped.
  7. The kid who gets to open the last layer hands shares the prizes with the other kids. The winner gets the last layer with grand present inside.

Variations:

  • Prepare a present for each kid.
  • Start the music and have the kids pass a present around the circle.
  • When the music stops, the child holding the present gets to keep it, and then drop out of the game.
  • Continue the game until each kid gets a present.

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Hot Potato

This party game for kids has many variations. See “Musical Pillow” below for a new twist on this classic game.

Style: Non-competitive

Type: Traditional Party Games for Kids

What You’ll Need:

  • A bean bag or some other soft unbreakable toy for the “Hot Potato.”
  • Music and a music player (e.g.: CD player or tape deck).

How to play:

  1. Have the kids stand or sit in a circle and give the birthday kid the Hot Potato.
  2. Turn on the music and have the kids pass the hot potato around the circle.
  3. When the music stops the kid holding the potato has to do a simple task (hop on one foot, run around the circle, sit down and stand up 3 times).
  4. Continue playing until every kid has perform a task.

Variations:

  • Easily adapts to any party theme. Just make the potato any soft theme related object. Stuffed toys work get. (e.g. For a firefighter theme party you could use a stuffed Dalmatian and call the game “Hot Dalmatian”.)
  • Have the task include something related to your party theme (e.g. For a train party theme each kid could make the sound of a train while running around the circle.)

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Musical Pillows

For the traditional version of this great party game for kids see “Hot Potato” above.

Style: Competitive

Type: Traditional Party Games for Kids

What You’ll Need:

  • A pillow or cushion.
  • Music and a music player (e.g.: CD player or tape deck).

How to play:

  1. Have the kids stand or sit in a circle and give one of them the pillow.
  2. As the music plays, they must throw the pillow to someone who must hold it for one second before throwing it to someone else.
  3. When the music stops the kid holding the pillow is out.
  4. The game continues like this until there is only one player left. That player is the winner.

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Duck, Duck, Goose

To put a new face on this classic party game for kids just change the name (see below).

Style: Non-competitive

Type: Traditional Party Games for Kids

What You’ll Need:

  • Enough room for the kids to sit in a circle and run around it.

How to play:

  1. Have the kids sit in a circle on the floor.
  2. The kid that’s “It” walks around the outside of the circle.
  3. “It” taps each kid lightly on the head and says, “Duck.”
  4. At any time, “It” may tap a kid and call out “Goose” instead of “Duck.”
  5. Then “Goose” must jump up and chase “It” around the circle.
  6. “Goose” must try to tag “It” before “It” sits in “Goose’s” empty place.
  7. If “It” is tagged, he is “It” again. If not then “Goose” becomes “It.”
  8. Continue until all players have been “It.”

Variations:

  • Play “Big Duck, Big Duck, Little Goose”, “Happy, Happy, Birthday, “Train, Train, Caboose.” You can use any words that match your party theme. (e.g. For a Veggie Tales theme you could call this birthday game “Carrot, Carrot, Squash!”)

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Hot and Cold

It’s really easy to adapt this classic party game for kids to any birthday party theme. Just choose an item to hide that’s related to your kid’s party theme.

Style: Non-competitive

Type: Traditional Party Games for Kids

What You’ll Need:

  • One small object like a kid’s toy.

How to play:

  1. Chose one kid to be “It.”
  2. Have “It” leave the room while the other kids hide the object.
  3. Call “It” into the room to look for the object.
  4. When “It” gets close, the other kids say, “You’re getting warm (warmer…hot!).”
  5. When “It” moves away from the object, the kids say, “You’re getting cold (colder…freezing!).”
  6. The kids keep helping until “It” finds the object.
  7. Chose another kid to be “It” and the game begins again.

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Musical Chairs

Since this is one of the most popular party games for kids we’ve included three different alternatives (see alternative games below).

Style: Competitive

Type: Traditional Party Games for Kids

What You’ll Need:

  • Chairs for all but one player.
  • Music and a music player (e.g.: CD player or tape deck).

How to play:

  1. Arrange the chairs in a line with every other chair facing in the opposite direction.
  2. Have the kids stand by the chair all facing in the same direction.
  3. When you start the music the kids walk, march or dance around the chairs.
  4. As soon as the music stops, each kid scrambles for an empty chair and sits down quickly.
  5. The kid left without a chair is out and leaves the game.
  6. One chair is removed and the game continues until to kids are left to battle over one chair.
  7. When the music stops the kid to sit down first is the winner.

Variations:

  • If you’re tight on space put the chairs back to back or in a circle.
  • Instead of chairs you can use pillows. The works well with toddlers.
  • For an additional challenge tape a balloon to each chair. Now they not only have to sit in the chair they also have to pop the balloon. This can actually help settle any disputes about who’s actually sitting in the chair. Just determine who is sitting on top of the popped balloon.
  • Choose one kid to be the leader and put her in charge of the music. This works well with older kid.

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“Grab Bag” Musical Chairs

Here’s a new twist on a “Musical Chairs” – one of the all time great party games for kids. It’s a non-competitive variation!

Style: Non-competitive

Type: Traditional Party Games for Kids

What You’ll Need:

  • Chairs for all but one player.
  • Music and a music player (e.g.: CD player or tape deck).
  • A grab bag gift for each player.

How to play:

  1. At the beginning of each round take one gift from the grab bag and place it on the table for all the kids to see.
  2. At the end of the round the kid that ends up without a chair gets that grab bag gift. The grab bag prizes get slightly better as the game continues, but this way everybody wins!

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“Animal Antics” Musical Chairs

This fun variation of one of the beloved party games for kids is set up just like the traditional “Musical Chairs” but with some additional antics thrown in just for the fun of it!

Style: Non-competitive

Type: Traditional Party Games for Kids

What You’ll Need:

  • Chairs for all but one player.
  • Music and a music player (e.g.: CD player or tape deck).
  • Animals names written on pieces of paper.
  • A hat or a bag.

How to play:

  1. Start the music and have the children walk in a circle around the chairs, until you stop the music. When the music stops, each participant tries to sit in one of the chairs.
  2. The kid left standing must pull the name of an animal out of a hat. Then, they must act it out while the other guests try to guess what the animal is.
  3. Start the music again and repeat the game until all the animals in the hat have been acted out.

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“Fruit Basket” Musical Chairs

Here’s a “fruit-full” variation the of that old favorite party game for kids. This games works well with large groups of 10 or more.

Style: Competitive

Type: Traditional Party Games for Kids

What You’ll Need:

  • Chairs for all players.
  • Music and a music player (e.g.: CD player or tape deck).
  • Labels with names of fruit written on them.
  • A hat or a bag.

How to play:

  1. Get a group of people to put their chairs in a ring. Just like musical chairs.
  2. Assign each kid a fruit group (e.g.: bananas, apples, oranges, etc.) Each fruit group should have about four or five kids in it. Add more fruit groups if needed.
  3. Give each kid in each group a label with their group fruit name to wear so everyone will know what group he or she belongs in.
  4. Then everyone sits in their chairs and you call out a fruit group (i.e. bananas). Only the bananas have to stand up and walk around the circle.
  5. While they are walking you remove one chair and at some point you call out bananas again and all the bananas scramble for a chair. The fruit left standing is out of the game.
  6. Then next you call out another fruit group (i.e.: apples or oranges).
  7. But if you say “upset the fruit basket” then everyone has to get up and walk around the circle.
  8. The winner of course is the last fruit in the basket.

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Telephone

Here’s one of the simplest party games for kids that demonstrates just how easy it is (and let’s not forget funny!) for the channels of communication to break down.

Style: Non-competitive

Type: Traditional Party Games for Kids

What You’ll Need:

  • A few phrases or sentences.

How to play:

  1. Get the kids all together in a circle.
  2. Have an adult whisper a phrase or sentence in the first kid’s ear.
  3. That kid whispers what he heard to the next kid and so on.
  4. The last kid says out loud what he heard. It will be very different from the original phrase or sentence that started the game.

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Giant Steps

Also know as “May I” or “Mother, May I”, this party game for kids will keep them alert and on their “tippy toes!”

Style: Competitive

Type: Traditional Party Games for Kids

What You’ll Need:

  • A large open play area.

How to play:

  1. Have the kids stand in a line against wall at one end of the room.
  2. The leader stands at the other end and call out a kids name, the number and type of steps she can take. The number and type of steps can vary each time. For example the leader will say “Mary, you may take three baby steps.”
  3. Mary must say, “May I?”. If she doesn’t she loses her turn.
  4. If the leader says, “Yes, you may”, then Mary takes three baby steps toward the leader.
  5. If the leader says, “No, you may not”, Mary must stay put. The leader may also change the number or type of step: “No, you may not. You may take two giant steps.”
  6. Mary must remember to say “May I?” again. If she doesn’t, she must go back to the wall.
  7. The first kid to reach the leader is the winner.

Variations:

  • Typical step: giant, baby, hops, jumps, backward, tiptoes. You can also make up funny ones to fit your party theme.

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Pin the Tail on the Donkey

This is definitely one of the great classics! And it’s pretty easy and fun to adapted this game to any birthday theme.

Style: Non-competitive

Type: Traditional Party Games for Kids

What You’ll Need:

  • Large picture of a donkey (without a tail).
  • Heavy paper to make tails.
  • Pen, pencil or marker to write each kid’s name on each.
  • Tape for each tail (double sided or tape loops – no pins needed!).
  • Blindfold (a scarf or bandana will do).

How to play:

  1. Blindfold the first kid.
  2. Slowly turn him around 1-3 times.
  3. Give him a tail with tape on the top end.
  4. Point him in the right direction.
  5. Then repeat with each kid.
  6. When all the kids have “pinned” their tails on clap for all the funny places they landed

Variations:

  • Cut tails out of fabric or felt and let the kids decorate them before the game with glitter, paint, buttons and other craft materials.
  • Play “Put the Hat on the Witch”, “Pin the treasure on the Map”, “Pin the Tail on the T-Rex”, and so on. You can use any picture that matches your party theme.

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Limbo

We all know the big question the this famous party game for kids asks. That’s right — How low can you go!

Style: Competitive

Type: Traditional Party Games for Kids

What You’ll Need:

  • long pole, mop or broomstick.
  • Music and a music player (i.e.: CD player or tape deck with some Caribbean music is a good choice or any lively music that fits your theme).

How to play:

  1. Two adult hold the pole at kid height.
  2. When you start the music the kids must walk under the pole without touching it.
  3. After each round, the adults lower the pole an inch or two.
  4. The lower to pole gets the funnier it gets as the player must bend backwards and shimmy under (really young children may crawl).
  5. When a player touches the bar, she’s out.
  6. The last player left wins

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Guess How Many

You may know this party game for kids as “Guess how many ____ are in the jar!”

Style: Competitive

Type: Traditional Party Games for Kids

What You’ll Need:

  • A clear jar or container.
  • Candy or other small theme related items (you’ll have to count out enough to fill the size jar that you selected.
  • Prizes for closest guess (optional – prizes for the 2nd & 3rd closest best guest.

How to play:

  1. Fill the jar or container the items that you selected and write the number on the inside of the lid. For example your could use Gold Fish crackers for an Under the Sea Party and call it “Guess the Fish in the Sea”.
  2. Have each kid guess how many pieces are in the jar.
  3. The closest guess wins the grand prize, which could be the jar and it’s contents, or another predetermined prize.
  4. You could also give prizes for the second and third closest guess.

Personalized and Printable Party Games for Kids

Here are lots of fun printable birthday party games for kids. Guess How Many, Birthday Bingo, “pin the” games just to name a few and many of these games can be personalized with your birthday kid’s name.


Didn’t find what your were looking for? Click Here For Lots More Kid Party Game Ideas

What’s the #1 way to assure your party will be a great success?

Have a well thought out games and activities program!

Check out our Awesome Birthday Games & Activities Party-Saver Tips.

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark

Great ideas and great list of games.

Reply

emma

They are very good birthday party tips!

Reply

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