Hosting a birthday party at home sounds so easy. Just get a cute cake and happiness will follow, right? Well, what about the remaining three hours when you have 20 kids running around your house wondering what they can do? Control the chaos with some creative games. The better prepared you are, the easier the party will be. Plan a game for every 30-45 minutes because it’s always better to be over-prepared than under.
Here are seven games to keep kids entertained at the party:
1. Herding Sheep
Designate your birthday star as the “farmer” and blindfold him. Then, whisper the names of three (or more) types of animals to the party guests and keep them mixed up. The animal friends can only make their respective animal sound (Baaaa! Oink! Mooo!). The goal is for the farmer to herd his farm friends into their respective groups. The first group to be herded together wins!
2. Bubble Wrap Races
Buy a large roll of bubble wrap and lay out a five-foot piece. Have each child cross the bubbles barefoot, trying NOT to pop any bubbles. The team that gets all its players from one side to the other with the fewest pops wins!
3. Hot Lunch
Take an empty paper lunch bag and fill it with silly tasks. You can draw them or write them, depending on the kids’ reading abilities. Make sure you have two to three tasks per child. Once the music starts, kids pass the bag. When it stops, the child holding the bag must take a task and act it out. Kids can try to guess the idea, but the goal is to just get everyone to laugh. Ideas include: a dog ice skating, a horse taking a shower, a pig eating dinner, trying to eat a sandwich without your hands, and trying to sing the ABCs but having to go potty really, really bad.
4. Mummy Wrap
Each team gets a roll of toilet paper and has to dress one friend up as a mummy. When the 10-minute timer ends, each wrapped friend gets presented and has to do a funny Mummy Walk.
5. Actors’ Studio
Separate the party into three to five groups of kids and give each a grocery bag full of props. Their job is to come up with a story and play using each prop. Then, the groups perform for everyone.
6. Photo Scavenger Hunt
Take pictures of household objects each team needs to find. On game day, each team is given a paper bag with the items they should scout for. The team that gets its objects first wins. You can even fool the birthday child by hiding all the items around the house—and not in their normal spots!
7. Freeze Dance
When all else fails, play fun music and stop it quickly. All kids have to freeze. Anyone still dancing is out! You can also have the birthday child lead the party in a dance circle. Mid-song, she can tag someone else to go in the middle to display his or her silliness.
Katie Bugbee is the senior managing editor and resident parenting expert of Care.com. A busy working mother of two, she’s an expert on many parenting dilemmas, from appeasing picky eaters to finding the perfect babysitter.