We all know that feeling of being invited for or hosting a kids’ party, the kids’ excitement in the run up to it (including countless counting of how many sleeps left), only for half of them to end up crying inconsolably on the day.
What a downer. Chances are, the reason for crying is the games – someone won, someone lost, and off to a corner they go, crying and yelling It’s. Not. Fair. We’ve all been there.
To help you avoid some of the stress of kids’ parties, we’ve compiled a list of tried and tested party games for 3 – 6 year olds that are both fun and end amiably.
Pin the tail on the donkey
This game remains a party favourite, especially as it can be easily tweaked to fit the theme. We’ve had Pin the Carrot on Olaf the Snowman with some hilarious results, Pin the Necklace on Moana, as well as Pin the Scarf on Hey Duggee in recent years.
All you need is a large print out of your little one’s favourite character, with a separate cutout for whatever you’d like to pin. Blindfold the kids one by one and who gets the pin closest to its proper place wins. Winning is fair and square!
Pass the parcel
We tried this one for the first time at my daughter’s 6th birthday party, mainly because it was my favourite game at parties when I was a kid (no shame there).
You’ll need to buy some sweets, inexpensive toys or stationery (there are plenty of options in shops such as Mumoso, Flying Tiger and Tal-Lira). Layer them up with wrapping paper and have the kids pass the parcel around with music playing in the background. Once the music stops, the child who has the package can unwrap one layer and keep the gift!
To avoid crying over who has what and to get it right age-wise, we decided to ‘fix’ the game beforehand. I made a list of who gets what when, and whoever was managing the music made sure to keep an eye on the package and stop the music according to the list. All’s fair in love and war.
Duck, Duck, Goose
Seat the children in a spacious circle. The birthday boy or girl starts first, going round the circle, tapping on each child’s head and saying Duck as they go along. The child who gets Goose instead of Duck has to run around the circle and try to catch the birthday girl/boy. The goal is to catch the other kid before they take their place in the circle.
You can personalise the game by choosing names that go with your theme instead. Peppa, Peppa, George is one example for a toddler party.
A definite parent-favourite, Sleeping Lions is the game to play when the party-goers get out of hand. Ask the kids to lay motionless on the floor. An adult walks around telling jokes or making funny faces, whoever moves loses, and the child who stays motionless the longest wins.
No shame whatsoever if you decide to go for ten rounds of this game. We get it.
Scavenger Hunts provide a mix of adventure and good fun and are a great addition to any party, but especially outdoor ones. Prepare a list of items the kids must find, with a checkbox they can tick off every time they spot something.
You can divide the kids in teams, too, and whoever collects the most items in the shortest time wins.
Need inspiration? Check out these great lists for indoor and outdoor scavenger hunts.
Freeze (also known as Musical Statues)
Similar to Sleeping Lions, this game provides the adults in the room with some minutes of peace and quiet, while still allowing the kids to burn off some energy.
Put music on, and let the kids dance, jump and show all their moves. Once the music stops, they must ‘freeze’ into position.
An adult or older child can go around and try to make them laugh or move – the one still standing in a frozen position wins.
Egg and Spoon race
The official version is to give an egg and a spoon to each child and the first one to reach the finish line without dropping either wins. Since I don’t know anyone who’d trust eggs in the hands of 3-6 year olds, you can opt for little balls instead.
Make sure there’s enough space between each participant – you don’t want fights over a fallen egg/ball because, “He bumped into me!”
Prepare some cards with pictures of animals, objects and actions. You can adapt this to your theme, too. As an example, if it’s a jungle-themed party, you can have different jungle animals on the cards.
The kids then take turns taking a card and acting it out to the rest of the group without speaking. The child who guesses what’s on the card, takes the next round.
There’s plenty of party game ideas for 3-6 year olds, and we hope our list helps inspire you! Most games can be a tear-free affair if you tweak them here and there. But of course… what’s a kids party without a child or two crying?
After just a few years of parenting, it’s a fact of life we’ve come to accept.