Tweens and young teens may have outgrown party activities such as Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Musical Chairs, but they still enjoy group activities. Here are six creative game ideas guaranteed to entertain the guests at your next bash.
1. Pass the Bag Fill a large garbage bag with a variety of clothing items such as aprons, men’s and women’s shoes, scarves, hats, socks, ties, shirts and dresses. Have guests form a circle and pass the bag around as music plays. When the music stops, whoever is holding the bag must take something out and put it on. No searching! You must take the first thing your hand touches. Continue until the bag is empty and all the kids are dressed in ridiculous outfits. Take pictures of the funny results!
2. Eat the Donut Hang a donut on a string from a high place, such as a doorway or tree branch. The object of the game is that, one at a time, with their hands tied behind their backs, each kid must eat a donut. Have at least one donut per partygoer plus a few extra. Frosted chocolate donuts produce the messiest – and funniest – results.
3. Toilet Paper Fashion Show Give each guest a roll of toilet paper and tell them that they have 20 minutes to make an outfit for themselves. When everyone is finished, put on some music and have them “walk the runway.” Ask each kid to name their creation (for example: toga, mummy). Announce them as they strut down the catwalk. Give prizes for the silliest, most creative.
4. Round Robin Story Pass out pens or pencils and have kids sit in a circle. Copy the first line from a book onto a page in a notebook. Pass around the notebook, and each person adds a line or paragraph to advance the plot, depending on how much time you want the game to take. Then have the birthday kid or party host read the story out loud. Photocopy the results for each contributor.
5. Scavenger Hunt If the party guests have phones or other mobile devices that take photographs, put them into groups and give them a list of things to find in the house or neighborhood. Instead of collecting items, they snap a picture. This can also be done the old school way by handing out paper bags and a list of items to find – and bring back – around the house or in the neighborhood.
6. Blind Makeover Group kids into pairs and give them a few cosmetics such as blush, powder and lipstick. Blindfold one guest in each pair and have the blindfolded one apply makeup to the other’s face. Then, switch roles so that everyone gets a makeover. Be sure to have baby wipes or make-up removal cloths on hand for after the game!
Send guests home with a goodie bag filled with pictures of all the hilarious game results – either a group photo of each activity or snapshots of each individual. If you don’t have the ability to print the photos at home, upload digital pictures to an online photo storage website such as snapfish.com, and email guests the link or access code for viewing. Then, tuck in a photocopy of the round robin story for a fun memory of the party.
Turn teens loose in the kitchen with a mini-cake decorating challenge. Kids can really explore their creativity as they cut cupcakes into shapes, stick them together with frosting, or even build towers by spearing the cakes with toothpicks or skewers. Tweens have a blast doing this fun and delicious activity, so be sure to have your camera ready! Start the challenge by giving each tween six, unfrosted cupcakes and two paper plates. Kids can build their creations on one paper plate, and use the second plate for décor items. Write several different cake themes on slips of paper and place in a bowl or hat. Each participant draws a cake theme, and then must create a mini-cake based on that theme. If you have a large group, divide guests into teams.
You can make this activity as basic or as elaborate as you would like. For example, you could buy premade frosting and a minimum of toppers, or go wild with everything from fondant to homemade icing in a variety of colors. The suggested tools and toppings below are just that – suggestions. Choose toppings that work for the themes that you will use or from what you have on hand.
Two butter knives per kid, one for frosting and one to cut the cupcakes if needed.
Box of sandwich bags
Bamboo kabob skewers or toothpicks
Several bowls and spoons for tinting frosting
Small cookie cutters for fondant
Candy, such as jelly beans, gumdrops, M&Ms, red licorice, sour belts
Mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, sprinkles, canned whipped cream, flaked coconut
Premade fondant sheets. These can be purchased at stores where cake-decorating supplies are found. Cut into shapes and place on top of the frosting.
Liquid or gel food coloring
Frosting. Make up a large batch of white frosting, or purchase several cans of premade white frosting. Kids can then tint small amounts of frosting with food color. Spoon the tinted frosting into a sandwich bag and then cut off the bottom corner of the bag. Use as a pastry bag by squeezing frosting through the cut opening. You could also purchase ready-made tubes of colored frosting.
Buildings: the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or the Space Needle
Holidays: Independence Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or Day of the Dead
Animals: cat, dog, monkey, frog, octopus Objects: handbag, jewelry, hat, high heel shoe
Recipe for Cake Decorating Frosting
Ingredients 1/2 cup butter 1/2 cup shortening 4 cups powdered sugar 2-4 tablespoons milk 1 teaspoon vanilla
Directions Cream butter and shortening, and add vanilla. Mix in powdered sugar. Add milk by the tablespoon until icing is desired consistency.
Tiffany Doerr Guerzon is a freelance writer and the mother of three children, including a tween and a teen.
Here are ideas for games that provide at least 20 minutes each of high-energy, enthusiastic fun. And by fun, we’re talking about running around, getting messy and beating world records. Trust us – you and your party guests will have a blast!
Have the kids stand in a circle with their legs spread apart and their feet touching the feet of the person on each side. Using only their hands, and without ever losing foot contact with their neighbor, each child needs to try to hit a soccer ball (or large rubber ball) through someone’s legs. Hands can be used for blocking, but if someone lets in a goal, he has to run a lap around the circle before rejoining the game. An adult should stand in the middle to keep the ball moving and make needed commentary – “No one’s taking any shots at Logan” – to keep everyone involved. No shots can go above the knee. The first offense earns a lap; the second, a one-minute break. As a general rule for any game, adding balls never hurts. “The more balls means the less anyone cares about winning and losing,” says Steve Kramer, director of Camp West Woods in Stoughton, Mass.
Basketball Keep Away
Divide your guests into two teams near an outdoor basketball hoop. Have the “offense” team try to make 30 clear passes between teammates. If the “defense” team touches the ball, it takes over on offense. No dribbling allowed. When a team reaches 30, it has to execute a bounce pass and layup in order to win. If it doesn’t, the game continues until it happens. This game keeps everyone running and constantly involved, says Sarah Behn, president of the Sarah Behn Basketball Camp.
Use a fat Wiffle® ball bat to maximize fence-clearing potential. Have an adult toss a maximum of three easy-to-hit pitches to each batter. After a ball is hit, the entire defensive team has to line up behind the initial fielder and pass the ball backwards in an over-the-head, between-the-legs alternating fashion. The batter continues to run around the bases as this happens. The last kid in line has to deliver the ball to the mound, and once it’s there, the runner stops and his team gets one run for every base that he has touched. Then the rest of the team bats in the inning, Kramer says.
Hot Shot Contest
Set up five spots with point values on the basketball court – baskets made from the top of the key, 5 points; each end of the foul line, 3 points; short from the corner, 2; layup, 1. Each child gets 45 seconds, must rebound and dribble alone, and is allowed only two lay-ups. Trying from every spot earns a 5-point bonus, so regardless of ability, any child can earn at least that much, Behn says.The game will move fast, but have the kids who are waiting count the points to stay involved.
Homemade Obstacle Course
Use whatever objects you have on hand or in your yard to create a course: Have kids run around a tree. Space out two pieces of rope parallel to each other and instruct children to jump over the “river.” Hurdle or vault a bench. Jump in and out of a Hula Hoop. Bounce a ball five times. Crawl through a nylon tunnel. As you’re setting it up, ask a volunteer to test out the course. Then tell the kids that the neighborhood record is, say, 3 minutes, and see who wants to beat it. Follow it with “the world record,” and, because of the summer games, “the Olympic record,” throwing in the name of an Olympic sprinter and his “time.” “It’s all about setting it up,” Kramer says. Have one child begin the course, and start another child every 10 seconds.
– Steve Calechman