Planning a birthday party can be exhausting, with the cake, presents and invitations to organize. When it comes to actually running the party, it is best to choose games that require little supervision and can eat up a bit of time. It can also be a good idea to offer party favors, but for younger crowds it works best to provide one for every attendee rather than just for winners. For slightly older school children, games should reflect the sophistication of the players in strategy or complexity.
A scavenger hunt is a great way to entertain both small and large groups alike. The key to a good scavenger hunt is choosing items that will make for a fun search for the players involved. Scavenger hunts can be done in the house, the yard, the neighborhood, and even with digital cameras or video cameras. Parents can gauge the length of the scavenger hunt based on the lists they make, including how many items are on the list and how hard they are to find. Parents can also use riddles to confuse children, but this tends to result in groups coming in constantly for clues if they don't have an older person supervising them.
Team Freeze Tag
Team Freeze Tag is best with larger groups. The game itself can be played either during the day or at night in any open field or big back yard. Divide the kids into up to four separate groups. If you play during the day, parents should have different colored T-shirts for each team, or at night you can use colored glow necklaces so teams can see each other from across the field. At the start of the game, declare one color “it,” and have them set off to freeze everyone else. If someone is frozen, he can only be unfrozen if he is tagged by another member of his team. The game is over when an entire team is frozen, or at the end of a designated time limit.
Marshmallow Tower is a game played with toothpicks and marshmallows where players try and build the largest structure before time runs out. Though this might sound like a simple feat, players will soon realize the difficulty as towers will quickly bend and fold under their own weight long before reaching any great heights. The time limit is essential to declare a winner as otherwise players could simply wait for everyone else’s structures to fall and be declared the winner by default. Since every player is racing against time and gravity, the result is an exciting game that basically runs itself. Parents should provide numerous bags of marshmallows for large groups and can optionally provide prizes as well.
Snake in the Gutter
Snake in the Gutter is a bit like freeze tag, but with its own twist. The game is played by designating a few players, depending on your group size, to be snakes. Snakes should form two lines 5 to 6 feet apart, with the gap large enough for the other children to run through the middle. At the mark, have an adult yell "snakes in the gutter," and all of the other children have to run from one side of the canal to the other without getting tagged by any of the snakes. If any of the children are tagged, they will become snakes and have to join the line. The game is over when there is only one human player left standing, or until parents declare the round winners.