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.