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.