Active Indoor Party Games

No sunshine? No problem, with these active party games you can play inside

Active party game - Girl playing with plastic hoop
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Send young guests home tired instead of wired with these active party games that work for indoor play. Adapt them to work with your party's theme, the number of guests you have and their ages (and how many breakables in your indoor party space). Try them in your living room or in a garage, basement, or even a park shelter if your outdoor plans are foiled.

Active Indoor Party Games: Races and Competitions

Hula Hoop It Up: Give players hoops and have them spin as long as they can.

If they drop the hoop, they're out. If you don't have enough room for everyone to play at the same time, have a series of head-to-head competitions.

Shoebox Race: Tape lids securely to shoeboxes and cut slits in the top about 1 inch wide and 4 inches long. Have kids slip them on for a bigfoot race (make it a relay if you don't have enough space or shoeboxes to go around). This game can adapt to many themes, and can become a crafty activity too: For a space-themed party, paint boxes silver and call them astronaut boots. For an animal party, decorate boxes to look like hooves or paws. For a race car theme, have kids draw wheels and racing stripes on the boxes.

Gift Stacking: Before you unwrap party gifts, use them for a game (or two). Set aside any fragile packages, then challenge guests to create creative stacks of presents. To play, gather a stack of wrapped gifts of various sizes and shapes (try to have pairs of similar boxes; gift bags won't work).

The more gifts, the better. You can also play with pre-wrapped empty boxes. Divide the gifts into two groups, with similar items in each group. Two players sit back to back, each facing a stack of gifts. They work as a team. 

In front of only one of the two seated players, have a third player create a stacked arrangement with the gifts: standing them on end, piling them on top of each other.

Each gift must touch at least one other gift, and no other props are allowed. Next, the player who can see the stacked pile of gifts must describe it to the other player so he can recreate it. Use a stopwatch or timer to track how long it takes. You can also remove the competitive angle and just play for fun. Or, give each team a time limit of 3 to 5 minutes and see how many stacks they can create and recreate in that time. For yet another variation, stage a relay race by having players take turns carrying their stacks back and forth to a display table.

One If By Land, Two If By Sea: Mark a line on the ground using chalk or painter's tape. Choose one person to call out the commands "land," "sea," or "air." Have the rest of the players stand in front of the line, shoulder to shoulder. If the caller says "land," everyone jumps behind the line. If the caller says "sea," everyone jumps over the line. If the caller says "air," everyone jumps straight up. (For an extra challenge: If the caller says "land" or "sea" twice in a row, don't move on the second call.) Anyone who jumps on the line or makes a mistake is out.

Indoor Soccer: If your party has a sports or soccer theme and is forced inside, you can still play "footy." Just use crumpled paper or balloons instead of balls and you have an indoor-friendly game!

Active Indoor Party Games: Cooperative and Calmer

Bubble-icious: Give kids socks to wear on their hands. Then blow bubbles and have players try to catch them. For an extra challenge (e.g., for older kids), have players stand in a circle and try to pass a bubble from person to person. How long can they keep it going before it pops?

Follow the (Secret) Leader: This game can be played seated or standing and is good for bringing the energy down a little if things are getting rowdy! Start by designating one child as the guesser. Have him or her leave the room or face the wall for a minute while you designate another child as the leader (do it by pointing, so the guesser doesn't overhear). The leader starts by making a subtle motion, like touching her earlobe or shifting her weight to one foot. All the other players follow suit, and every few seconds, the leader switches to a new action. The guesser tries to figure out who the leader is.

Food Fight: Adapt this Cheeto Head game a bit to make it more cooperative. Give everyone a shaving cream crown (stock up on cheap shower caps or ponchos) and a bowl of Cheetos or popcorn, and sit them in a tight circle; some plastic tablecloths on the floor are a good idea too. Then let the food fly until the bowls are empty. Take a group photo of everyone with their goofy headgear.

Cup Creations: Pick up a few extra packs of plastic cups along with your party supplies, and you can play lots of games with them—or just build some cool structures.

Active Indoor Party Games: The Classics

Don't forget these old favorites. They are easy to play and endlessly variable. Make them harder or easier, competitive or not. Or modify to fit your birthday party's theme: For example, swap paper or cardboard targets for seats, and musical chairs can become musical frogs on lily pads, dogs in doghouses, butterflies on flowers, bumblebees in hives, and so on.

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