Kids' Party Games: How to Host a Game-Themed Party for Kids

A Game-Themed Party Is Fun for Everyone

Children at birthday party
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A game-themed party is a great way for kids to have fun challenging themselves and competing with their friends. The next time you plan a kids' birthday party or other children's celebration, try centering the occasion around some great games. Here are some awesome party-game ideas that kids will love.

Ideas for Party Games

  1. Heads Up
    This popular new app for the iPhone or iPad is so much fun, your family will want to play it whenever you have some downtime, with or without a party. (There are similar apps for non-Apple devices.) The free version comes with categories including "Movies," "Accents," and "Charades" and can be played with 2 or more people. It's also perfect for teams at a kids' party.

    Why It's Fun. Kids will have a ball guessing the word on the screen or feeding the "guesser" clues in this fast-moving, think-on-your-feet game. And they'll absolutely love watching the automatically recorded videos of themselves when they're acting out words on the screen; it's virtually guaranteed to keep the kids in stitches.
  1. Outdoor Party Games
    Take the fun outside with some outdoor games. Kids will totally love games like a scavenger hunt, balloon stomp, and more. (No need to explain how those are played, right?) 

    It's Also a Good Idea Because ... Running around and getting their energy out will help make the kids ready for quieter activities toward the end of the party. And did we mention less party mess in your house?
  2. Active Party Games for Kids
    From juggling to relay races to buddy tag, these fun party games get kids moving and are always full of surprises. They're a big hit at any kids' party.
  3. Wii Sports Party
    If you are hosting a small party for your child -- say from 4 to 8 children -- you can hold a Wii sports tournament right in your living room! The Wii sports games such as tennis and bowling are perfect for grade-school-age children. They’re non-violent and not too difficult, and they can help kids sharpen their hand-eye coordination.

    Why It's Fun. Kids will love competing and cheering their teammates on. Kids can even play against adults (although odds are, the kids will have the advantage!).
  1. Board Games
    An excellent option for a small game-themed party is to get out some fun kids' board games such as Balderdash, Blokus, and Khet. And don't forget the classic kid favorites such as Monopoly and Scrabble. And consider throwing some educational games into the mix, such as Boggle and Rush Hour -- no harm in giving the kids' brains a fun workout, right?

    Different Ways to Play. Kids can form teams and work together to strategize moves on four-player games such as Scrabble. Or, break the kids into different groups and have them take turns playing different board games; that way, everyone gets a chance to play a favorite game.

    It's Also a Good Idea Because ... Besides teaching kids math, language, and reasoning skills, playing board games on teams helps kids learn the importance of working together to achieve a goal.
  1. Card Games for Kids
    Classic card games for kids like Go Fish and Spoons and family card games like Crazy Eights and Go Boom can be great for young kids' parties. 
  2. "Mad Libs" Contest
    Remember how much fun it was to do Mad Libs when you were a kid? Just in case you missed the experience, Mad Libs is a game that supplies printed pages with stories on them -- except there are blanks in the stories. One player prompts the others for words to fill in the blanks and then reads the completed story aloud, typically with hilarious results.

    Ways to Play. Get a bunch of Mad Libs books (or make a few of your own if you have the time) for your kids' Mad Libs party. Have the kids divide up into teams and work on their own Mad Libs stories. They'll have a great time then and afterward, when they share their silly stories with the other teams.

Tips for a Successful Game-Themed Party for Kids

Once you've decided which games will be the center of your party, consider buying or making party invitations, decorations, and snacks to go along with your theme.

For example, let's say you're planning a card-games party for kids. How about creating hanging decorations that look like playing card symbols? You can order or bake a cake decorated with card symbols, too. Oh, and make sure you provide plenty of card-game types of snacks, such as chips and dip.

Other tips to keep the fun going:

  • Make Sure the Teams Are Fairly Balanced. If you know that some of your child’s friends are champs at Monopoly or Wii baseball, put them on different teams. That way, every team has a good chance to win and the party is fun for everyone. 
  • Set Up "Prizes" for All the Kids, and Encourage Good Manners. As the host, you set the tone for the party. If you stress good sportsmanship, everyone will have much more fun. 

    Be sure to give small, equal-value toys or gifts to all the kids at the party, and remind them to praise each other for playing a good game, even when they don't win. It can make a big difference to a kid when teammates -- and kids on the other teams -- tell them they made a good effort, regardless of how they performed. 
  • Think Easy, Simple Food. Along with your game-themed party treats, serve some fun, easy-to-eat food such as healthy sandwiches, wraps, or pizza. For eating-while-playing snacks, choose some nibbles that are not too messy such as popcorn, pretzels, and cut-up (not too juicy) fruit.
  • Play Along! You or another parent can get the party started by demonstrating how to play a game -- and by having fun as you do. That doesn't mean you have license to hog the Wii remotes or take kids' places in the game, but seeing grownups have fun can do a lot to get the party going.

    What next? You can step back or keep playing, depending on how the party is progressing and whether or not your child wants you to play. Keep in mind that your support "on the sidelines" is important, too: Stay alert for kids who are having trouble with the game or each other, and be ready to step in with help or a diversion, such as serving a snack, if needed.

For fun ideas for kids' birthday parties, see "Great Birthday Party Ideas for Your Grade-Schooler."

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