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Indoor/Outdoor Party Games

There's one thing you can't predict: the weather. The following indoor party games are suitable for either inside or out, making planning your party a lot less stressful.

Musical Chairs

For this game you will need several chairs. If you plan to play the game, you may need to borrow chairs from your neighbors or rent some from a local party rental supply. You'll need one less chair than children. For example, if there are 10 children at the party, you will need nine chairs.

The chairs should be set up in a circle with the seats facing into the circle. The children should also be inside the circle. The chairs should be set up far enough apart so that the children can parade in front of them.

Three Strikes

I never liked Musical Chairs because it made me anxious if I knew I wasn't going to make it to a chair in time. It gave me the same kind of anxiety as getting stuck with the hot potato. To soften the blow for more sensitive children, you might want to give them a parting gift, like a lollipop or a little toy. You may have an upset child on your hands—be prepared!

You will need a CD player or radio to play this game. The children start to parade in front of the chairs when the music starts. When you stop the music, the children have to scramble quickly onto the seat of a chair—only one child per chair. One child will be out because there won't be enough chairs.

Each time a child goes out, you have to remove a chair to equalize the child-chair ratio. There should always be one less chair than child. Eventually you will have two children and just one chair. Those last two kids will have to parade around the one chair until the music is stopped. The first one to make it onto the seat of the chair is the winner. This child should be given a dig in the grab bag or handed a slightly larger toy than you give to the kids who go out.

The one thing I remember about this game is that an argument almost always broke out when two kids tried to squeeze onto one chair. Rather than pick one child over another as the victorious seated party, you should just play the music again and make them go around a second time. The odds of the same two kids fighting over the same chair again are pretty slim. You will have to use your best conflict-solving abilities if you want to include this game in your party. If the same kids do keep fighting over the same chair, change their position in the parade of children.

Mother May I?

This is a game that can be played indoors or outdoors. There is no running involved.

One child stands with his or her back to the others. This person is called “Mother.” (If the child is a boy, you can change it to “Father.”) The children ask: “Mother/Father, may I take a step?” Each child must make the request one by one.

In response to each question, the Mother may respond in one of the following ways: “no” or “yes, you may take [number and size] steps.” The Mother fills the blanks with the number and size step he or she wants each child to take.

High Score

In some versions of Mother May I? people make up their own steps. You can try “ballet steps,” for example, where the child will have to try and do some fancy turn or “pee wee steps” where the child can only move the tiniest possible step.

For example, the Mother can say: “Yes, you may take three giant steps,” or “Yes, you make two baby steps,” or “Yes, you may take four medium steps.” If the Mother senses someone is just a little too close, she can say “no.”

If the child forgets to say “Mother, may I?” he or she has to go all the way back to the starting line.

The goal is for the players to try and sneak up on the Mother and touch her.

Use one of the “It” choosing methods to start the game. The person who goes first might be placed on the far left and the turns can then move to the right. It's up to you how you want to organize it, but the key is to be as fair as possible.

Hot Potato

This game, like Musical Chairs, is one that builds anticipation as the music starts and stops. You'll see such concentration on the faces of the kids as they pass that potato from one to another. Wait for the shrieks when the music stops. This game is fun for the kids to play and sometimes even more fun for the adults to watch. Here's how to play.

All the children either stand or sit in a circle. You can use any object as the potato. Some people really use a potato while others use a beanbag. You will need a CD player, tape deck, or radio for this game.

Turn on the music and hand the hot potato to one of the children. This child must pass the hot potato either to his or her left or right. Each child must continue to pass the potato until the music stops. When you stop the music the child left holding the potato is out and must leave the circle. Again I recommend some sort of “booby prizes” so that the children don't feel bad. The children will shriek with laughter and fear when the music stops. The anticipation on their faces during this game is worth the noise.

I was at a party where the family used a store-bought hot potato that looked like one of those cartoon canon balls with a built-in ticker. It was quite intimidating to hear that ticker just humming away as the black plastic ball was passed quickly from child to child. If you can't find such a manufactured hot potato, you can try using an egg timer and place it in a soft black sock. The kids will hear the timer but they won't be able to see how much time is left.

More on: Games

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Family Games © 2002 by BookEnds, LLC. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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