25 kids party games ideas for indoor and outdoor parties

Kids party games, 25 ideas to keep them engaged and having fun!

kids at a birthday party playing party games
(Image credit: Getty / Future)

Kids party games are a great way to get everyone involved - we've found some of the best games to play both indoors and outdoors.

Kids party game trends come and go, but if you ask us, the traditional party games for children never go out of style. Whether it's running around outside playing sardines, bashing a piñata to reveal the stash of sweets hidden inside, or dressing up in costumes and singing their heart out on a couple of plastic microphones. We defy you to find any kids that won't get on board with at least a handful of these entertaining activities!

All of these game ideas require minimal set up. Plus, they're cheap and easy to organise. We've specifically picked them to help you throw an affordable kids' party - no matter what your child's birthday party theme is.

Best kids' party games

Here are the best cheap, easy and fun kids party game options we know. The only decision left will be whittling it down to your favourites.

1. Pass the balloon

As kids party games go this is a simple and great choice. Balloons don't have to be just for decoration at a party - you can use them to play a fun game like this.

All you need to do to get started is select a balloon to play with. The kids must then place the balloon under their chin and pass it to each other using only their necks

Top tip: Use two balloons and line up the kids in two lines and get them to race to add a competitive element.

You'll also need plenty of balloons for this game so be sure to stock up on balloons from Amazon before the party, with next-day delivery available in many parts of the UK.

2. What's the time Mr Wolf?

What's the time Mr Wolf? is a classic kids' game that gets everyone excited for the festivities by adding a bit of suspense.

Kids running around playing What's the time Mr Wolf? One of the classic kids party games

Credit: Getty

Choose one child to be Mr Wolf. They stand with their back to the rest of the kids, who should "What's the time Mr Wolf?" and then quickly creep towards Mr Wolf. The child playing Mr Wolf answers each question with a different time.

The aim of the game is to reach Mr Wolf before they respond with "dinner time!", which signals the chase. Mr Wolf runs around, chases the rest of the kids and whoever they catch first is the new Mr Wolf.

Top tip: Make Mr Wolf wear a wolf mask to make the game more fun - guaranteed shrieks from all the children!

3. Bingo

Bingo isn't just for adults, test the kids' number skills with a simple game.

You can buy a pre-made set, which is the easiest and quickest option, or make your own. Each kid has a card with a selection of numbers on. You call out numbers and the child marks their card if the number appears. The first child with all numbers crossed out in a row wins.

Child playing bingo

Bingo is great as one of the kids party games, Credit: Getty.

Top tip: You don't have to just use numbers, you can make your own cartoon character or animal bingo.

4. Find your partner

As party games go 'find your partner' is a great way of breaking the ice at the start of the party, as it gets nervous kids talking to one another.

Write down the names of famous pairs (Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Tom & Jerry etc) on individual stickers and hand them out the the children. Then instruct them to find their 'other half' whoever finds their partner fastest is the winner.

Top tip: To make it more interesting, stick the stickers to the kids' backs and get others to describe their character to them. They then have to guess who their character is.

5. Squeal piggy, squeal

Squeal piggy, squeal is a fun-filled game for all ages.

Get the kids in a circle and pick one child to play. The child is then blindfolded and placed within the middle of the circle. They then must sit on another kid's lap and say "Squeal piggy, squeal", that kid must then make a pig's squealing sound. If the blindfolded kid can guess who they are sitting on, that person replaces them, if not they must continue.

Top tip: You can use any animal and sound effect for this game.

6. Treasure hunt

Put your kids' problem-solving skills to the test with a mysterious treasure hunt.

Kids going on a treasure hunt outdoors, one of the best kids party games to play

Credit: Getty
(Image credit: Getty Images/Image Source)

Hide presents or treats around the house and write clues for the kids to find them. They don't have to be big gifts, a multipack of chocolates should do perfectly.

  • Choose a location for your treasure hunt: home/garden/street etc.
  • Choose a theme: pirates/detectives/dinosaurs etc.
  • Decide where to hide your treasure and work backward.
  • When creating your clues remember kids will get bored if they're too hard.
  • Do a dry-run, cut it down where necessary and make sure you have adults on hand to help.
  • Go treasure hunting!

Top tip: Get inventive with your clues, use rhymes or riddles to make the clues more fun. If you're not feeling too imaginative, you can also buy pre-made clues online from Etsy.

7. Simon says

As party games go, Simon Says is a simple game that needs no preparation.

Select one child to be the leader - or 'Simon' - and get them to stand in front of the rest of the children. The child must then call out actions (raise your hand, sit down etc) for the children to copy, saying 'Simon says...' before hand. Once they say an action without saying 'Simon says...' first, the children must not copy the action, anyone who does is out.

Top tip: Change the game from 'Simon says' and replace with the birthday girl or boys' name - it'll make them feel extra special!

8. Egg and spoon race

It's not just for sports days, egg and spoon races are easy to do at home.

Girl holding a plastic egg on a spoon as part of an egg and spoon race

You could even buy plastic eggs online if you don't want to waste real eggs, Credit: Getty

Get a large spoon and a pack of eggs (make sure the eggs rest comfortably on the spoons). Then get the children to race while holding the egg on the spoon. The first child to make it over the finish line without dropping their egg is the winner.

Top top: Hard boil the eggs first to save on mess and get the kids to decorate them with felt tips before the race.

9. Three-legged race

A three-legged race is a great way of getting kids to understand teamwork.

Pair up the kids and tie one leg of one to one leg of the other child. To do this, you could use pieces of ribbon or string. Then get the kids to race from a start to a finish point. Their legs that are tied must stay together the whole way throughout the race.

Top tip: Always use soft material to tie the legs together and make sure you don't tie it too tight. Always race on soft ground as they may fall over during the race.

10. Musical chairs

Musical chairs is a great way to keep overactive kids happy.

Children playing musical chairs in the back garden

Credit: Getty
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Set up chairs in a circle and play music. While the music is playing get the children to circle the chairs, as soon as you stop the music the children must find a chair to sit on. Each time you stop the music remove one chair. If a child is not on a chair when the music stops, that child is out.

Top tip: Create two circles of chairs so the kids have to do a figure of eight round them. The added dimension (and possibility for collision) will up the excitement levels!

11. Karaoke

Kids love performing and what better way than karaoke?

There are many karaoke consoles on the market from Singstar to iSing. For a simple machine that's going to do the job, we recommend the RockJam RJSC01-BK Singcube. At just under £40 and with two microphones, it's a relatively inexpensive way to give hours of fun to kids at the party. It's an additional treat for your child too as they can use it when everyone has gone home. Hook it up to your TV and get singing.

Young girl with karaoke microphone

Karaoke is a great activity to do at a kids' party, Credit: Getty

Top tip: You don't have to splash out to do karaoke. Print off the lyrics to your favourite songs and sing along to the CD.

12. Sardines

Sardines is like hide and seek - with an added twist!

Get one child to hide. The others then must go find them. If they find the person hiding they must join them in their hiding place. The aim is to get as many kids as possible in the space leaving one or two children looking.

Top tip: Play in one large room and turn the lights off to make the game harder - make sure any obstacles are removed and hard edges covered.

13. Bobbing for apples

Bobbing for apples doesn't have to be restricted to Halloween, although it is one of the most popular Halloween party games.

Child bobbing for apples

Credit: Getty
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Get a large bucket and fill it with water then add apples - simple! Blindfold the kids and get them to try to pick up the apples using only their mouths.

Top tip: Add other (large) objects to the bucket of water to make it more challenging.

14. Row the boat

While you may not think of this as one of the more conventional kids party games, row the boat really tests kids' imaginations.

Get children into pairs and sit them on the floor facing each other, with legs outstretched, holding hands. Get them to rock back and forth while you play the song Row The Boat.

Top tip: Get inventive with the scenario and add props to make the scene more interesting e.g. stuffed toys and toy boats.

15. Skittles

Skittles is small scale bowling - perfect for at-home fun.

Mother and daughter playing skittles

Credit: Getty
(Image credit: James Pauls / eyecrave LLC www.eyecrave.com)

You can pick up colourful skittle sets in most kids' stores or online with next-day delivery from Amazon. Set up a bowling alley-style space and get playing!

Top tip: Make your own skittles using old plastic drink bottles.

16. Pin the tail on the donkey

Pin the tail on the donkey is a simple game that will keep the kids entertained for hours.

You can buy a ready made pin the tail on the donkey set or get creative and make your own. You blindfold one child at a time and get them to place a cut-out tail onto a picture of a (tail-less) donkey. After every child goes, the closest tail wins.

Top tip: Who said it has to be a donkey? Use any picture of an animal or even choose your child's favourite cartoon character and remove its prize possession - like Woody's hat from Toy Story.

Kids in garden playing pin the tail on the donkey

Credit: Getty
(Image credit: Getty Images/Westend61)

Also, if you doing a seasonal party for Christmas or Halloween, you can buy a matching seasonal set. For example, Etsy has a cute Halloween-inspired pin the nose on the wicked witch set and a pin the nose on Rudolph set for Christmas.

17. Duck, duck, goose

Duck, duck, goose is a school-playground favourite and a sure-fire winner for kids party games.

Get the kids to sit in a circle and pick one child to start. They then walk round the circle tapping every kids' head saying 'Duck'. When they tap a child's head and say 'Goose' the chosen child must chase the other round the circle and back to their spare space in the circle. Whoever doesn't make it to the space must then continue with the tapping.

Top tip: You don't have to stick to ducks and geese, mix it up with some new characters and include sound effects to get everyone giggling - how about oink, oink moo?

18. Piñata

Piñata is a Mexican treat that includes kids' two favourite things: chocolate and games.

Boy playing pinata in garden

You can make your own for the party or buy one online, Credit: Getty.

You can buy fun pre-made piñatas very easily or if you're feeling particularly crafty and have lots of time on your hands, make your own. They are traditionally filled with sweets and chocolates. The children are then blindfolded (one by one) and take turns hitting the piñata with a stick. When it breaks the kids are showered in sweet treats.

Top tip: If you're making your own piñata make sure you fill it with small soft things as they may hit the kids on the head on their way down.

19. Red, blue, green

Red, blue, green is a great way to get the kids moving and is one of our favourite kids party games.

Red means fast, blue is normal speed and green is slow motion. Call out actions for the kids to copy (skipping, jumping etc) then call out a colour to dictate the speed. Anyone doing the wrong speed is eliminated.

Top tip: The colours don't have to equal speeds, you can mix it up and make the colours different actions.

20. British bulldog

British bulldog gets the kids exercising.

Boy and a girl playing in a garden

Credit: Getty
(Image credit: Getty Images/Onoky)

Choose one kid to be the bulldog. Find a large open space and get the kids to stand at one end. They the must take it in turns to cross the space to the other side without being tagged (touched) by the bulldog. If they are tagged, they join the bulldog in trying to tag the remaining kids. The winner is the last kid to be tagged.

Top tip: Tuck strips of material onto the kids' waists to be removed by the bulldog instead of tagging to avoid the risk of things getting too rough!

21. Musical statues

All you need is a clear space and some music to make musical statues work.

Get all the kids onto your makeshift dance floor. Turn on the music to get the kids dancing. As soon as you stop the music the kids must freeze into a statue position. Each time you stop the music the last child to finish moving is out.

Top tip: Make it trickier by shouting out different actions for the kids to do to the music before freezing. Trying to stay still mid-hop will create hours of fun!

22. Dressing up

Dressing up is a hilarious and fun thing to do for kids at parties - providing you've got the props.

Two young friends playing at sword fighting with foam swords and shields, in a garden with a castle play tent.

Credit: Getty
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're running a little low, check out the dressing up clothes on Amazon for girls and for boys. Then, create a pile of dressing up clothes and get the kids to rummage to create their own outfit. Give prizes for the best costume.

Top tip: Charity shops and jumble sales are a great place to pick up clothes for a dressing up selection.

23. Musical bumps

Another musical treat - this time with a little added bump.

This game follows the same principles as the other musical games. Once the music stops they must fall to the floor and curl up in a ball. The last to make it to the floor is out.

Top tip: Bring your mattresses downstairs to make the bumps a little more comfortable.

24. Score a goal

Score a goal is a house-friendly game of football or rounders.

Child boy playing football at home

Credit: Getty
(Image credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Get one balloon to act as a ball and use either your foot/hand or another balloon as a bat to get the balloon into a designated goal. You can even buy cool football-coloured balloons!

Top tip: Make sure the balloons aren't filled with helium as they will float away.

25. Pass-the-parcel

Pass the parcel is a classic and an old kids party games favourite.

Wrap a present in several layers, sit the kids in a circle, play some music and get the kids to pass the parcel. When you stop the music, the child holding the package removes one layer. Repeat until the present is revealed.

To gather the presents to go in the parcel, you could speed round your local supermarket or shop online. Amazon even has a whole section dedicated to kids' pass the parcel presents so you can get what you need for the game without spending an arm and a leg.

Top tip: Tape mini presents, such as sweets or chocolate, to each layer so every child is a winner and shout out rules throughout the game like 'change direction' or 'across the circle' to mix things up a bit.

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Stephanie Lowe
Family Editor

Stephanie Lowe is Family Editor at GoodTo covering all things parenting, pregnancy and more. She has over 13 years' experience as a digital journalist with a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to all things family and lifestyle. Stephanie lives in Kent with her husband and son, Ted. With his love of choo-choos, Hey Duggee and finger painting he keeps her on her toes.