Pass the Parcel
This is another traditional party game that I enjoyed as a youngster, growing up in England. The game is very simple and for preparation you need to wrap a small present then put another paper wrapper around that and repeat with additional wrappers a dozen or so times. Then have the kids sit in a circle, start the music and instruct the kids ‘pass the parcel’ around the circle until the music stops. When the music stops the child who is holding the parcel takes off a wrapper and if the prize is revealed they get to keep it. As the host you need to make certain the parcel is being passed, as the children will develop ‘sticky hands’ when they are holding the parcel.
Other variations of this game are played that eliminate the person holding the object being passed around the circle. A large potato can be used as the object and this will move out of the kid’s hands quickly (like a hot potato). If you don’t want to ‘eliminate’ the participants then a variation is to have the person holding the object (when the music stops) perform some activity (hopping, using one hand, standing on one leg etc.). This game ends after a certain time or when everyone is doing the activity.
All of these games can be played ‘blind folded’ with the kids holding out their hands to receive the object, but my experience is that cheating (peeping) usually takes place, but if this version is played correctly it can be a lot of fun.
Also if you are outdoors, passing a bucket of water (like the hot potato variation) is a lot of fun and, given the speed that the bucket will be passed at, will get the children soaked. A hosepipe or other method of refilling the bucket as it empties (spillage) is recommended. The fun (and water spillage) is increased if the activity variation (i.e. hopping after being caught in procession of the bucket) of this game is played.
Whatever the variation remember that as the host you can ‘control’ when the music stops, so as to give everyone a ‘turn’. But, in the case of the real “pass the parcel” you are recommended to turn away from the children as the package gets nearer to it’s end (prize) otherwise you will be criticized of playing favorites with your ever watchful quests!
Growing up in Liverpool, England in the 1960’s I can vividly remember attending children’s birthday parties on the Street that I ‘grew up’ on. The parties were always hosted by the mother and took part in the child’s home, and/or garden, with all the food, (usually sandwiches, cake and jelly) being homemade. The games we played were like rituals with hunt the thimble, Pass the Parcel, Musical chairs, London Bridge is falling down and others being played on all occasions and known by all the children. These games can be traced back to Victorian times and certainly would have been played by our grand parents.
The game ‘musical chairs’ was one of my least favorites, although I still enjoyed it. The game itself is quite simple and involves placing chairs in a circle (or oval) and having the children ‘walk’ around the chairs whilst music is playing. When the music stops (this was a parent lifting the arm off a vinyl record player) each child had to sit down. Given that there was one less chair than children one unfortunate child would not have a chair to sit on and would be eliminated. The game progresses with a child and a chair being removed at each round until two children ‘fight it out’ with one chair.
The game does need strong ‘policing’ as there is pushing and shoving so some form of rules and decorum need to be upheld. For all that it is an amusing game for the kids of today and will give them a taste of bygone days.
There are some less rambunctious versions of ‘when the music stops’ type of games that you might prefer. One such game is statues and involves the children walking (or dancing) in a circle until the music stops. When the music stops the children have to keep still (statue like), with the first child (could be more that one) to move being eliminated.
If you like the idea of the original musical chairs but don’t like the ide of a child being eliminated there is a so-called “non-competitive” version that is highly amusing. With this version a chair (but not a child) is removed after each round. This means that the children need to sit on each other if they can’t find an empty chair. One additional rule is that no feet have to touch the ground; this is to ensure that the children are indeed sitting. If you plan to host this version consider the strength of your chairs as well as the number in the party. The conclusion of this game is when someone’s feet touch the floor, or when the kids come crashing down off the chair. For practice, if you are planning this game, see how many kids you can get on one chair and if the kids fall off, without hurting themselves, before the chair breaks you are all set. As always please respect the ‘safety first’ principle whilst hosting this game.