Party games for big groups

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When it comes to birthday party games for big groups, some of the best games you can find are classroom games.

Made for big groups, classroom games can be jazzed up for a party, and your child (and their guests) will already know the rules!

You can easily adapt the basic versions to suit your party theme, and adding treats or prizes will make them a lot different to how they are played at school.

If you’re hosting a party for lots of kids, ask your child for their favourite classroom games, or check out some of these ideas to get you started.

Hot Potato

For this game you could easily use something that suits your party theme, or simply use a pair of socks rolled into a ball. This is your ‘hot potato’.

Have all your guests sit in a circle, and give the birthday child the ‘hot potato’ to start with. When the music starts, guests must pass the hot potato from one person to the next, and whoever is holding the potato when the music stops, is out. The circle gets smaller and smaller, until eventually there are only two people passing the potato backwards and forwards. The person who is left at the end – wins!

If you have a particularly large group, you could have two hot potatoes being passed at once.

Duck Duck Goose

This game is an absolute favourite with younger school aged children. While it can be played indoors, I suggest you take it outside where there is plenty of room.

Have all your guests sit in a circle, and choose one person to be the tagger. The tagger then walks around the circle, tapping each person on the head saying ‘Duck, duck, duck, duck…’ as they go. At any moment the tagger can change the tag word from ‘Duck’ to ‘Goose’, and the goose must jump up and chase the tagger around the circle. The tagger must try to get back to the empty spot before the goose catches him from behind.

If the tagger is caught, the goose becomes the tagger. However if the tagger gets back to the empty spot, he survives for another round.

Static Scavenger Hunt

This game can turn out to be quite hilarious, especially with teens and pre-teens.

Split your group into two or more teams, and ask each team to select a ‘runner’. You then call out an item that your guests are likely to find either in their pockets, or on their being somewhere. It may be something like a cell phone, a watch, or a 50c piece.

Teams must find the item amongst themselves (without leaving the group), and give it to their runner to deliver to you. The first team to deliver the item receives a point, and the team with the most points at the end of the game – wins.

To make it even more fun, try calling out things like ‘a person with blonde hair’. That person can not simply run to the front, they must be delivered to you via their runner.

Head Down Thumbs Up

This game works best with a group of at least 15 people, but it is possible to play with smaller numbers as well.

Choose 3 or 4 people to be taggers, and have everybody else crouch in a ball with their heads down, eyes closed, and their thumbs above their head. The taggers then walk around the room, and choose a thumb each to push down. Once everybody has finished, those who have had their thumbs pushed down, must try to guess which one of the taggers tagged them.

If a tagger gets caught, the person who guessed correctly takes their place. If a tagger does not get caught, they can stay ‘it’ for another round.

Creep Up

You can play this game inside or out, but the longer the run-up, the longer you can make the game last!

One person is ‘it’ and stands at the end of the back yard (or family room), facing away from the group. The rest of the guests have to try and creep up behind the player, and tag them without getting caught. At any time the player can spin around, and all the guests must freeze. If he/she sees anyone still moving, they are sent back to the beginning to start again. The first person to tag ‘it’ – wins!

This game is a balance between speed and skill, and it’s often the slow and cautious ones who make it without getting caught.

Captain’s Coming

You will need a bit of space to play this game, so move the trampoline, clear away the barbeque table, and make some space. It’s also a great game to play if you’re having your party at the park or the beach.

You (or the birthday child) are the captain of a ship, and all your guests must follow your orders. The last person to successfully follow your instructions – is out.

The basic version involves having 4 corners of the ship which your guests must run to – Port, Starboard, Stern, Bow. As your guests are running in one direction, you can call out another order to send them in the opposite way. After a few orders, let them run it out, and the last person over the line must sit down.

Other orders which are fun to introduce are:

  • Scrub the Decks – guests must get on hands and knees.
  • Man Overboard – guests have to find a partner, and sit hands together rowing a boat.
  • Captain’s Coming – guests hold their hand in a salute position.
  • Sharks – guests find a partner to piggy back.
  • Hit the Deck – guests lay face down on the floor.

Eventually it comes down to just two sailors who you get to run ragged!

1,2,3 Bust

This is actually a Maths game and involves a little bit of strategy, but the kids love it.

Have all your guests stand in a circle, and the first person begins counting one number at a time – 1, 2 ….They can choose to count up to three numbers, but no more. The second person then continues where the first left off – 3, 4, 5. Again, they can add up to three numbers to the sequence, but no more. The next person continues and so on. The person who is forced to say 10 goes BUST, and must sit down. The next person in the circle then starts counting again, until eventually there are only two people left playing the game.

Note: Players do not have to add three numbers to the sequence, they can add just one or two, and that’s where the strategy comes in.

Simon Says

This is an oldie but a goodie…

One person stands at the front of the group and becomes ‘Simon’. They must give instructions to the rest of the party guests such as ‘Put your hands on your head’, ‘Jump up and down’, or ‘Clap your hands’, while at the same time doing the action themself.

If Simon begins the instruction with the words, ‘Simon Says’, all your guests must copy the action. If however he/she gives the instruction without ‘Simon Says’ in front, your guests must continue with the action they are already doing.

The object of the game is for Simon to trick players into following an instruction that should have been ignored. Anyone who does is out of the game, and can help spot others who make a mistake.

Simon Says…have fun!

For more great party game ideas, check out Traditional party games for kids, and Party games for preschoolers.

The Kiwi Families Team

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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