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15 Free or Cheap Games for Children's Birthday Parties

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by finy (subscribe)
A retired business owner, my passions are cooking, photography and eating. I use all three of these when I write for which is on HubGarden
Published February 2nd 2018
Lots of good ideas for your child's birthday party
There are so many different things you can do nowadays to help celebrate your child's birthday and this list is just some of the activities you could get to make the party more interesting!

Most of these games are simple to prepare and involve little or no cost. I have used the term "her/she" throughout, however, games are all suitable for both boys and girls.

This is an easy and fun party game that all children will love and it can be played both inside and out, depending on your preference. It involves the children looking for things that you have hidden.

You could do this in many ways - ask them to find things beginning with a certain letter or colour, or search for small balls hidden all over the house or outside.

Image: By Harvard Law Record,

You could do face painting, washable tattoos or hand-stamps. The ideal thing would be if you know a friend or teenager who's good at this sort of thing to come and help you!

You could play simple games like "Pin the tail on the donkey"; if the weather is fine, you can have three legged races or egg and spoon races.

Image: By Michiel1972,

This one is similar to musical chairs - one person is the grandmother and stands with her back to everyone. The other children line up on the opposite side of the room.

While grandmother's back is turned, all the children creep closer and when she turns around, anyone who she sees still moving has to go back to the beginning. This requires a large room or outdoor space.

The first person to make it all the way to Grandmother and tap her on the shoulder is the winner and becomes Grandmother for the next round.

This one is great fun - the children sit in a circle and one child is picked out. This child then walks around the outside of the circle, tapping each child's head as she passes them, and calling out "duck". After a while, the child says "goose" and then runs around the circle back to the place where she was sitting. The "goose" child has to try to catch her before she gets back to her space.

If the first child gets back around the circle before being caught, she sits down, and the chaser has her turn. If not, the same child goes again.

This is another fun game where you line up all the children outside and get one or two kids or adults to pretend to be monsters in the middle of a forest.

The other children then have to run across the forest without being caught by the monster. If the monster catches them, they also become a monster and the last one left who is not a monster is the winner.

This is a bit similar to pass the parcel, or musical chairs, but is not so well known.

This can be played with any object (eg. ball or toy) for the hot potato, and something to play music with. The object of the game is not to get caught holding the hot potato when the music stops playing.

You need about 20 items such as eggcup, brush, toothbrush, fork etc, which you put on a tray. Each child gets pencil and paper, and you allow them to look at the object for a minute and then cover the tray so they cannot see the objects.

They then have to write down what was on the tray and the child who writes with the most number of correct answers is the winner.

You need a large room so that all the children can lie down and pretend to be asleep.

You pick a "leader" and whoever laughs once the game has begun is "out". The leader then moves around the room talking to the children and trying to get them to laugh, and those who are "out" can then join in and try to get the others to laugh.

The last one on the ground is the winner.

This one can be made suitable for all ages of the children. You need a bag which is not see through and some objects to put in the bag. They can be household items, toys or small fruit, and each child puts their hand in the bag and has to pick one and guess what it is by the feel. After they have guessed, they can take out the object to see if they were right.

This is an old-fashioned game that is still fun to play. One person is picked to be Simon and she tells the rest what they have to do. However, the players must only obey commands that begin with the words "Simon Says."

For example, if Simon says "touch your nose", they must not do this, and must only obey the command if it is preceded with "Simon says". If they move without "Simon says", they are out, and the last child remaining is the winner.

This is a twist on Hide and Seek. One person hides and the others must then look for the person hidden.

When each child finds the hidden child, she must also hide until there is only one child left, and all the children are packed like sardines so as not to be found! The last person is the "odd man out".

You will need some cotton wool balls, a large spoon or ladle, two large mixing bowls or buckets, two chairs and a stopwatch.

The idea of the game is to set up two chairs facing each other and on one chair put the empty bucket or bowl. On the other chair, place a bucket filled with cotton wool balls.

Blindfold the first child, spins them around a couple of times, then puts the spoon in their hand and guides them to the chair with the cotton wool balls. Give them a hand at putting the spoon on the edge of the bucket and when you signal to start, they must try to move the cotton wool balls with the spoon from one bucket to the other. They are only to use one hand and you count the score of how many they do in a certain time.

Here is a video clip to give you the basic idea of this game:

For this, you will need about 10 coins and a bowl or bucket. Each child stands back about a metre from the can, depending on their ages and they take turns in trying to get as many coins into the bucket as they can, by throwing one at a time. The winner has the highest score.

This game is great for those over about 7 years of age and you can cut out matching pictures from the internet, or buy a cheap memory game.

You hide half of the cards and divide the other half among the children and they have to find their matching picture. Each child can be rewarded with a treat, and play until everyone has found their matching pair.
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Why? For cheap or free fun at children's birthday parties
Cost: Cheap or free
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