When it comes to planning a celebration for your little one, Pinterest would have you believe that the theme, decorations, and cake are top priority. And they are important, but none of that means anything if your child's friends are bored the whole time. Planning some birthday party games for kids that are age appropriate and fun is probably the most important part of the event. Not to mention, you don't want to be stuck with a large group of children who are full of sugar and have no way to get that energy out.
These games are definitely going to be what your kid's friends talk about after the party, so the more fun, the better! Whether your child's birthday is during the hot muggy summer or the dead of winter, there are plenty of outdoor and indoor games to keep the momentum going.
As you're planning out the party, remember to pick games that will appeal to your guests (fifth graders probably won't be into anything Baby Shark-themed). You also want to have enough games to fill up the time, and maybe have a couple extra in your back pocket in case you find yourself out of fun things to do before the party is over. These 25 games should get you started, and then some.
1. Ice Cream Cone "Catch"
Break the kids up into teams of two and have one partner lie on the ground with an empty ice cream cone in their mouth (opening side up) and the other on a chair or sofa with a cup full of mini marshmallows. Then, have them start tossing the marshmallows at their partner so they can catch them in their cone. Set a timer for 60 seconds and whoever catches the most wins!
2. Themed Egg Hunt
Egg hunts are always a hit at Easter, so you can take the same concept and change it around based on your party's theme. Get a pack of gold eggs to be "unicorn eggs" (or some green eggs to serve as "dinosaur eggs"), then fill them up with prizes and let the hunt begin!
3. Dance & Freeze
Little kids love to dance, and will be thrilled to have a game that involves dancing. Turn on some music and have them start dancing, then any time you stop the music and yell "freeze," they have to stop. Whoever stops last (or whoever you catch moving) is out. As kids are called out of the game, they get to help you with judging.
4. Pinko (But With Kid Prizes Instead Of Money)
Whether or not the kids know what Plinko is is irrelevant, because it's a fun game regardless. Set up a homemade Plinko board with some fun prizes at the bottom, and let the kids play just like they do on The Price is Right.
5. Outdoor Twister
Twister is a classic birthday party game, but the mat is small and can get slippery. So, instead of the regular game, make a big one outside in the grass using paint. The kids will love the chance to play outside and you won't have to worry about someone losing their balance and knocking over something breakable in the house.
6. Cupcake Decorating Contest
What's a party without cake or cupcakes? Make a game out of decorating cupcakes, but have some stakes in it. After everyone is finished, let the guest of honor judge them all and pick a winner. No matter what, every kid will end up with something yummy to eat, so no one is empty handed.
7. Hidden Objects
Before the party, hide a bunch of colorful clothespins around the house. Tell the kids at the beginning to be on the lookout for them, because if they see one they can grab it and whoever finds the most by the end of the party gets a prize.
8. Painting With Feet
Have you ever played one of those games where you have to try to recreate a picture? Imagine having to do it with your feet! Put up a fun picture or character for the kids to try to draw with a paintbrush or marker between their toes. It will be hilarious and fun.
9. "Fishing" For Prizes
This is a great game for smaller kids, because it doesn't have to be competitive. Cut some fish shapes out of construction paper, write a prize on each one, and add a little magnet. Then, make a fishing pole with the opposite side of the magnet at the end. Toss the fish in a bucket or kiddie pool and let the kids fish for prizes!
10. The Floor Is Lava Obstacle Course
Set up an obstacle course where the goal is not to touch the ground (or lava). You can do this inside or outside, but just be sure the course isn't too hard so you don't end up with a bunch of injuries.
11. Who Knows The Birthday Kid Best
Older kids will love this game, which gives them the chance to showcase their strong friendship with the guest of honor. Before the party, ask your child some questions about them and write down the answers. Then, have party guests answer the same questions. Whoever gets the most correct answers wins.
12. Themed Bingo
Print up a few bingo cards before the party with things each guest should look for, like like "pink balloon," "a present with a green bow," or anything that aligns with the party's theme. Kids can check off squares when they see the item and try to get a Bingo.
13. DIY Car Races
Have all the makings for some fun DIY cars. Let the kids get really creative (and innovative) with their cars, and then set up a race track to see which is the fastest or can go the furthest. Everyone can keep their car at the end of the party, but one person gets some special bragging rights.
14. Squirt Gun Painting
Pick up some small canvases, basic white tee shirts, washable paint, and squirt guns. At the party, have the kids change into the shirts and use their squirt guns to shoot paint on their canvases. Once they've created their master piece, they can have a paint squirt gun fight and go home with a cool new shirt.
15. Who Can Build The Tallest Tower
Split the kids up into teams and have them build towers using spaghetti sticks and mini marshmallows. Whoever can build the tallest (standing) tower at the end of time allotted wins!
16. Riding Toy Race Track
Collect some non-motorized riding toys (Cozy Coupes, tricycles, etc.) and create a little race track. Have the kids compete to see who can go the fastest. If they're not quite old enough to cope with "losing" just have them complete the little course and call them all winners.
17. Cereal Stacking
Get some round cereal, like Cheerios or Froot Loops, and some wood skewers. Have the kids put the skewers in their mouth and try to stack as many individual cereal pieces on it as they can in a timed competition.
18. Homemade "Claw" Machine
Let them play a claw machine they can actually win. Get a big box and cut out a window on the front (you can cover it with some plastic wrap) and fill it with some toys. Then, let them use a grabber stick as the claw to pick a toy. You can make it more challenging for older kids by having them do it blindfolded.
19. Soap Boat Races
This is a super easy and fun outdoor game. Set up some inclined "race tracks" that are wide enough for a bar of soap to fit. Have each kid decorate a little race flag on a toothpick to sick in a bar of soap which will serve as their boat. Then, pour some water on the tracks and have the kids race their boats.
20. No Smiling Game
Remember when your mom had you play the "quiet game" (or remember when you had your kids play it... last week)? This game is similar, but the kids aren't allowed to smile. It's surprisingly hard, because as soon as one person breaks, the smile seems to become contagious and the kids will try to hold back their smiles, which is then all the funnier. Whoever can last the longest will win.
21. Challenge Dice
Build two dice out of cardboard, then on one of them write a challenge to do with your body on each side (dance, walk like a penguin, hop on one foot) and challenges to do with your voice on the other. Then have kids roll the dice and follow the corresponding directions, like "hold a yoga pose" and "sing 'Let It Go'" at the same time. There are no winners or losers, just a lot of laughter.
22. Colorful Snowman Building Contest
Kids with summer birthdays shouldn't be the only ones who get to play outside at their party! If you live somewhere cold and there's snow on the ground, get some squirt bottles and fill them with water and food coloring. Then, have the kids build snowmen and use the squirt bottles to decorate it. You can make this a contest to see who does best, or just let the kids have fun outside for a bit.
23. Gummy Worm Dig & An Ice Cream Reward
For a pre-dessert game, have a baking pan full of crushed up brownies or chocolate cake, sprinkles, and gummy worms. Give the kids tongs to "dig" and find as many worms as they can. After the game, let them use the worms as an ice cream garnish, and let them spoon on some "mud" (cake/sprinkle mix) for extra topping.
24. Escape Room Challenge
You can either create your own on-theme escape room challenge for the kids to play, or have them create their own at the party. Just remember to make sure any challenges are age-appropriate (no one wants to play an impossible game).
25. Name That Movie/Book/Song
Have each kid write down five movies, songs, and/or books on little pieces of paper and toss them into a bowl. Then, let them try to either act out the title (like Charades, but with words) or describe it without actually using the word (like Taboo). They'll love flexing their pop-culture knowledge.