Category Archives: Classic outdoor party games

Hide and seek or Sardines party game ideas


Although hide and ‘go seek’ has been a popular children’s ‘street’ game for centuries there are many variations of this game that are suitable for today’s children’s parties. In the basic version one player is the ‘seeker’ and the rest of the party ‘hide’. The seeker (often called ‘it’) counts out loud for 60 or more seconds whilst the rest of the group hides. After the seeker has reached his or her ‘count’ she declares ‘coming ready or not’. The seeker then tries to find the hidden guests.  In one version of this game all the guests need to be found with the last person found being the ‘winner’ and that person becomes the new seeker (it) in the next round of the game.  In another version the game ends when the first person is found. According to tradition there are a number of calls the seeker makes to indicate to the rest of the players that this game has ended. The phrase “Ollie Ollie oxen free” is traditionally used to give the signal “All outs all in free”, which lets the remaining players know they have not been found (are free) and can return to base.

Another version of this game involves a ‘base’ and the idea is the people hiding need to return to base, without being caught (tagged). In this version the players reaching base shout out a phrase to let the seeker know they have arrived safely. One version of this style of game, originating in Massachusetts, calls the base ‘Ghouls ‘and when reaching ‘Ghouls’ the players shout out “My Ghouls 123”. If a player is caught (tagged) before getting back to base they can (optionally) assist the seeker and try to tag (catch) others. This version of the came can be incorporated into a themed party such as Halloween or Pirates. This version of the game is only suitable for outdoors, given the nature of running children and household breakables!

The game of Sardines was a Victorian favorite and is similar to hide and seek only it starts by one person hiding and the remainder of the party seeking.  When one person has found the hider they join that person’s hiding place. This continues until all the seeking players are with the hider in that one place. The term ‘Sardines’ comes from the idea of being crammed into a small place (like sardines in a can), such as a wardrobe or closet. This game is highly entertaining if played in a large house or other building.

A variation of Sardines involves the original hider (called ‘it’) chasing down the others in a game of tag, as soon as all the others are with him\her. The new person ‘tagged’ then becomes the hider (it) for the next round.

What time is it, Mr. Wolf party game


This is an outdoor game for younger children and one I remember playing at birthday parties in the UK, in the late 50′s and early 60′s (when I was but a child!). The game is a popular variation of ‘Tag’ and involves what all kids seem to enjoy, chasing down and ‘capturing’ each other.

The game What time is it Mr. Wolf? is played as follows:-

One person from the party plays the wolf and she (or he) stands about twenty yards from the others, who begin at their ‘base’.
The group asks the person playing the wolf ” What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?”, to which she or he replies two o’clock (or some other o’clock time) on hearing this type of answer the group advances as many paces as the ‘o’clock time (e.g. two o’clock is two paces). At some point in the game, when the group is quite near the person playing the wolf, the wolf will reply “Dinner time!” and then try to tag one of the group “for dinner”. The group has to run back to “base” before being tagged. The person tagged then becomes the wolf and the game continues.
Other variations of Tag, that are similar, can involve teams forming to chase down the group that “escapes”. This game involves two bases, at each end of a small area, about twenty yards apart. One person starts off in the middles and tries to “Tag” the others who run from one base to another. When a person is Tagged they join the person trying to Tag the others. The game continues until all the players have been ‘Tagged”.

There are other variations were the people trying to Tag join hands, but the basic game is the same and for centuries these type of ‘Tag’ games have always amused young children at play.