The invites have been sent and now you’re hosting a party for a crowd of children. Don’t panic! This foolproof guide is packed full of low-cost ideas that are suitable for children aged 3, 4, 5 or 6 years. They require little or no prep and are guaranteed to keep a crowd of kids happy.
Plan around 4 activities per hour. 2 hours is about right for a party of children aged 4-6. For 3 and under, 1-and-a-half-hours is plenty.
ACTIVE GAMES: improvise with what you have at home for these games that help kids to let off steam…
1) MOON ON A SPOON
Put kids into two teams and get them to race keeping a ball of tin foil on a wooden spoon. The foil can also be a dinosaur egg, a magic ball or a pirate’s treasure.
2) MONSTER RACES
Split kids into two teams to race against each other with tissue boxes on their feet. Each team gets one pair of tissue boxes – they have to pass them to the next team member before they can go.
3) MUSICAL CHAIRS WITH A TWIST
As with the traditional game, you remove a chair each round and when the music stops the children have to sit down. But in this version, no one is out. All the kids have to pile on to the chairs that are left. Ideal for younger children.
4) SPACE BOOTS & DINOSAUR FEET
Challenge teams to walk on mini-stilts and tell them they’re space boots, dinosaur feet or magic slippers. Adapt for what you have at home: skip over a rope (dragon’s tail) or jump on a space hopper (between planets).
5) JUST DANCE!
Put on some music and let kids take to the dance floor to dance like monkeys, fairies, spacemen and birds.
Themes make games and activities come to life. Children aged 6 and under will love:
Princesses and Knights
GROUP GAMES: involve everyone in these easy crowdpleasers
6) NO-PREP PASS-THE-PARCEL
GIVE Kids a balloon to pass around a circle and give a little present from a bag when the music stops. Prizes can range from sweets to bubbles or these little toys.
7) BALLOON CHALLENGE
Create two teams and get them to stand in a line. They have to pass a balloon from the front person to the back, but they’re only allowed to pass the balloon through their legs.
8) SCAVENGER HUNT
Hide sweets or toys and see how quickly everyone can find them.
9) SILLY FACE COMPETITION
Everyone sits in a circle and takes it in turns to pull their funniest face.
10) SLEEPING LIONS
Create a bit of quiet time by asking everyone to lie down and be still. Get helpers to walk around to see who opens their eyes or giggles first.
Kids under 6 are likely to get bored if they go out in a game. If you’re planning traditional party games like Musical Bumps or Musical Statues, give the children who are out a sticker and tell them they’re your helpers.
CRAFT ACTIVITIES: create a bit of quiet time with these fun things to make and do…
11) PARTY CROWNS
Set up an area with strips of orange paper, sequins and glue to make party crowns. You (or a helper) will just need to tape them to the size of the child’s head.
Pop a chalkboard and chalk on a table to provide a drawing area without the fear of crayon or felt-tip stains.
13) GOOGLY FUN
To make the easiest ever monsters, give kids paper to cut into funny shapes and add googly eyes to.
Invest in some cheap stickers, cover a table with coloured paper, and let kids create amazing scenes. These Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures packs are perfect for dinosaur-themed parties and they’re on special offer now!
15) FUN WITH PLATES
Give each child a paper plate and crayons so they can personalise their own plate before it’s time for food.
Set up independent activity stations that kids can visit in their own time. Great for keeping kids busy while you chat to the other mums and dads.
INDEPENDENT ACTIVITIES: give each child a checklist to tick off these activities and a certificate when they finish. These ideas are for space training – adapt them for your chosen theme.
16) TREASURE HUNT
Wrap mini toys and/or sweets in foil and hide in a sand pit. Tell the kids to find one piece of space treasure.
17) PRACTISE YOUR SPACE CRAFT ESCAPE!
Make use of a piece of garden furniture. Tell kids to slide down a slide to escape a spaceship, moon walk on a trampoline or orbit the earth (run around a chair).
18) DRIVE A MOON BUGGY
Dig out a scooter/ bikes/car/wheely bug and let kids take it for a spin.
19) FIND AN ALIEN
Hide pictures of aliens and tell children to find one.
20) WISH UPON A STAR
Create a crafting station with card stars for kids to decorate with sequins. They can take their star home – and make a wish on it.