How to Host a Game-Themed Party for Kids

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A game-themed party is a great way for kids to have fun challenging themselves and competing with their friends. Games can include healthy physical activity or stimulating mental challenges. They also can help children practice cooperation, leadership, and sportsmanship skills. The next time you plan a kids' birthday party or other children's celebration, try centering the occasion around games.

Party Game Ideas for Kids

Here are some awesome party game ideas that kids will love.

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. Many of them can be played indoors if you have enough space. Channel their energy into some physical activity that will do their bodies good.

Outdoor Party Games

Take the fun outside with outdoor games. Games like a scavenger hunt, balloon stomp, and more will keep them running, jumping, moving, and achieving healthy physical activity. Running around and letting their energy out will help make the kids ready for quieter activities toward the end of the party. Not to mention there will be less party mess in your house when you keep the activity outside.

Wii Sports Party

If you are hosting a small party for your child—say from four to eight 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 can help kids sharpen their hand-eye coordination. Kids will love competing and cheering for their teammates. Kids can even play against adults (although odds are, the kids will have the advantage).

Heads Up

This popular app for both iOS and Android is so much fun, your family will want to play it whenever you have some downtime, with or without a party. The free version comes with categories including "Movies," "Accents," and "Charades" and can be played with two or more people. It's also perfect for teams at a kids' party. 

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.

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 educational games such as Boggle and Rush Hour. Their brains will get a fun workout. 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. 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.

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.

Mad Libs Contest

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.

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 Party

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. Provide plenty of card-game types of snacks, such as chips and dip.

Other tips to keep the fun going:

  • Make the Teams 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. 
  • 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 a license to hog the Wii remotes or take kids' places in the game. Once the game is underway, 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.
  • 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 and manners, 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 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.

By Katherine Lee
Katherine Lee is a parenting writer and a former editor at Parenting and Working Mother magazines.