So you have done all the work of deciding on a guest list, sorting out invitations, buying food and making the birthday cake. But how do you actually keep the children entertained while they are there? It is very easy to stick on a film that they will all enjoy and give you a moment of peace, but most children will enjoy spending time with each other and playing games.
When deciding what games to play, it is wise including your child or children in the decision process and see what they will enjoy. Not only this, but your child will have a good idea of what games their friends will enjoy playing. Try to choose a variety of games so that if one game does not appear to go down well, you have several others up your sleeve. It is also a good idea to try to give everyone a small reward for taking part rather than just one child per game. The last thing a party needs is an upset child who is not able to win a game for whatever reason. A variety of games will hopefully prevent just one child winning all the games.
A lot of traditional games will appeal to children. Most children will know them, and they promote more of a party atmosphere than sitting them all down in front of the computer or the playstation. One of the most well known party games is pin the tail on the donkey. For this game you will need to draw a large donkey and pin this to the wall. You will also need to create a donkey tail for each of the guests. To play, blindfold each child before their turn, and spin them around on the spot three times. Keeping the blindfold on, the child will need to locate the poster of the donkey and pin the tail to where they think it should go. If your child has a particular theme of party, this game can be adapted. For example, the children could pin the pot of honey into Winnie the Pooh’s arms.
Pass the Parcel is a good game for giving everyone the chance to win. To prepare buy a small gift to place in the middle of the parcel, for example a small toy. Wrap this present in numerous layers of wrapping paper, roughly as many as there are guests. In each layer place a small sweet. Ask the children to sit in a ring, and play some music as they pass the parcel around. When the music stops (controlled by you), the child who is holding the parcel opens a layer of the wrapping paper. This continues until the last child unwraps the main present. As the parcel passes round, try to ensure that all guests get a chance to unwrap the present.
For guests who do not mind getting a little wet, apple bobbing can be a fun game. This simply sees children trying to catch apples floating in a large bowl of water with their teeth. If you are feeling brave, a water fight can be a fun game for children to play, especially if they have water guns or water bombs they can use. If you play this game, make sure that children come with a spare change of clothes.
A treasure hunt around your house or garden can be fun for children, especially if they are searching for sweets or small toys. Before the guests arrive hide your prizes around the areas you are happy the children to look in, and keep one to show the children, just so they are aware what they are looking for. If possible, make sure there is a limit on how many the children need to find, just so all children stand a chance of finding something.
For those who would like a little bit of quiet, Dead Lions is a good game to play. In this game the children lie down as still as they can and pretend to be dead. The one child left attempts to get them to move or make a noise. This can be done by tickling them or trying to make them laugh.
As children grow a little older, a good game to play is twenty questions. For this game each child has a well-known celebrity or personality pinned to their forehead so that they are unable to see who they have but others can. Each child is able to ask twenty questions to the other guests to work out who they "are", while guests are only able to answer with "yes" or "no". This can be a good game if you have a theme for the party, such as football or Disney films.