An old fashioned game of BINGO


There are many games that adults take for granted or as being boring or as not suitable for any occasion. Many of these overlooked games are in fact the highlight of many a kids party I have attended. I recall a couple of years ago, when my own children where 8 and 10, going to a Christmas party with a group of children their own age. At some point in the proceedings the hostess brought out this large wooden box and placed it in the middle of the dining table. The children began to gather around as the hostess opened the box to reveal a large game of Bingo (or Lotto as it is sometimes called).

The game, at the party, was not as elegant as the Victorian version pictured which includes cowrie shells to cover the numbers. What was interesting about the appearance of this game, at the Christmas party, was that about one half of the guests had played the game before and they were just as excited as the guests who had not seen this game before.

One of the attractions of this game, for the kids who knew how to play, was teaching the other kids who were unfamiliar with the game. For the younger kids, it was quite a challenge to keep up with the numbers and older children would assist (whether asked for or not!).  Apart from number recognition the game teaches (if that is the correct word) patience. In the party I attended the series of games did not end until every child had called Bingo and won a small prize. This is relatively easy to accomplish as you play until half of the guests have called Bingo, then start another game. On subsequent games you make a note of who has previously won a prize and that person cannot win another prize. Although to adults this arrangement seems condescending the kids understand and take pleasure in getting their prize after they have called Bingo for the first time, regardless of how many others are ahead of them.

The great aspect of this game is that a very large number of kids can play at the same time and the game is pure luck so kids can beat their parents (which is always entertaining to both of them).

Misfits card game for a party



The classic card game of misfits or ‘mix and match’ is an ideal party game, especially for a themed party such as the princess or nursery rhyme party. Here are some ways you can use this game to entertain a very large number of guests.

There are two basic versions of the misfits card game, one is to find the correct match and the other is to find many humorous alternatives by mixing and matching the picture parts. The game illustrated is a classical misfit game, from around 1900, that allows the player to match popular stories and songs. When played individually the game is similar to assembling many small jigsaw puzzles.

There are two basic variations of this game that make good party games. The first is to give each party guest a mixed set of cards. For example if the ‘misfit’ game has three cards in each set (as with the illustration) then each guest gets exactly 3 different cards to begin with. The idea of this version of the game is that the guests have to collect whatever “head” they have been given by going around the party and exchanging their other ‘body parts’. In this way every guest starts with one head one body and one legs (all different) and tries to exchange and match with the other party guests. In this version the guests look at each other’s cards and try to help each other find the correct matches. This is a great first game ‘ice breaker’ as most of the guests will go around the whole room before they get a complete set. Another, extended, version of this game is to start with two sets and try to match.

The other variation is to ask each guest to make a set by swapping a head, body or legs with the other players. In this way cards are swapped without being seen (although only the same body part can be swapped) by going around the room asking to swap a head or body or leg. At the end of a few rounds (or after a certain time period) the game stops and the misfits are assembled and displayed. This variation will reveal some strange combinations and may just reveal that someone has completed the correct misfit.

The hostess can make their own themed misfits ahead of time, and these can be sets of 2, 3 or more. Strange combinations of different animal heads and bodies can be tried to amuse your party as well as having your would be princesses trying to construct  ’the ideal husband/prince’ or other mythical creatures!

The Frog Prince Games – Part 2


These game ideas continue the activities suitable for The Frog Prince themed princess party games outline in part 1 of game ideas for this story.

Having lost the ball in the pond, the princesses agree to have the frog visit and eat with them, in exchange for the frog retrieving their valued possession (the golden ball) from the pond.

The frog arrives at the princesses’ home, and games of hide and seek recreate the scene in which the princess tries to avoid the attention of the frog.

1 Hide and seek the princess

This game is a variation of ‘hunt the thimble’, in which a small object (used to be a thimble years ago) is hidden by half the guests and the other half of the guests have to find it. The hunting guests have to leave the room first while the hiding guest hide the object. When the hunting guests return they look around the room for the object. If needed the hunting guests can be given clues in the form of hot and cold, which means that a person is ‘hot’ if they are near the object or ‘cold’ if they are further away.

The object to hide could be a small princess doll or something related to the princess (small crown etc.) as the idea of the game is to recreate the princess avoiding the frog.

At some point the frog finds the princess and the story continues.

2 Dinner with the frog.

Not really a game but if at some point a tea party or snacks are provided, as a break from the activities, then a place (seat) for the frog should be set up. If a large toy frog can be obtained then it can occupy a place at the table.

Alternatively each princess can draw a picture of their own frog and place it beside themselves at the table, make sure that each princess is attentive to their frog during the meal as this was part of the agreement the princess made to the frog for retrieving her golden ball.

As with all these fairy story themed parties, drawing and craft activities are well suited and should be timed to give a break from the more active games. These craft activities are also a great way to begin the party as the guests arrive and the object created can be incorporated into the themed games. For example, in this story, the party guests could make cardboard fish when they first arrive and these can be used in the fishing game, noted in part 1 game ideas for the frog prince themed party.

3 Kiss the frog

In the frog prince story the frog turns into the prince having spent time in the company of the princess. The game of kiss the frog, which is a variation of pin the tail on the donkey, can be played to recreate the moment when the frog turns to the prince.

This game can be purchased or made. As it is relatively inexpensive I would recommend purchasing the game, but make sure it is ordered in time for delivery on the party day.


There are many party games and activities that can be related to the classic frog prince story as this fairy tale is acted out. The above games and those in Part 1 of the game suggestions should form a good basis for a party event based on this theme.

Funny (Comical) conversations party game


This game, funny conversations, was a poplar Victorian parlor game and can be played and enjoyed today.

The idea of the game is very simple and that is generic questions are asked at random and generic answers are given as the reply to the question. The questions and answers are written on cards so that the questions may be:-

Do you believe all that men tell you?

Have you cut your wisdom teeth yet?

Do you believe in kissing on the ice?

As you can tell the above answers could be simply answered yes or no. The answer, also drawn at random, could be something like:-

You must excuse me from answering you now, although I am aware that “procrastination is the thief of time”.

I frankly answer “yes”

I cannot tell you although it is hard to feel one’s self a fool.

As you can tell from these type of questions and answers the idea of the name is that the various combinations of the questions and answers will prove amusing for your party guests.

These type of conversation cards can be made and used in many party games, as I have used them in a game of formal introductions that I devised for my Victorian Tea Party experience.

If you get the chance to purchase an old copy of this type of game and they can still be found on EBay (an earlier version of this game that dates to the 1900′s is called Komical Konversations) then the questions themselves tell us a lot about those times.

One question I have seen, that pre-dates the right of women to vote, is:-

Do you believe in Woman’s suffrage?

I often wonder if this type of question is put in for strictly amusement or maybe to stimulate a real conversation.

Whether or not you purchase an old copy of this type of game, or create one for yourself, the funny or comical conversations game will prove to be an amusing party activity for a large or small number of guests.

Waddington’s Careers board game for parties



Recently I played a game called Life which is a race baord game where the players go around a board collecting money, by earning a salary or receiving money for other services depending on their choosen occupations.

This reminded me of a similar game I used to play as a child (some 40 years ago) in the UK.

The UK version (of Life) was called Careers and I recall that at the start of the game the players (secretly) completed an ‘ambition’ , which was made up of a combination of wealth, fame or happiness objectives. The career paths each gave the players an opportunity to earn their points towards their secret ambition.

The player achieving their ambition, by gaining their appropriate points in the three categories (wealth, fame or happiness) would turn over their previously recorded ambition and declare themselves as the winner.

The aspect of this game, Careers, that I enjoyed was that each person would follow a different ‘career path’ depending on their secretly written objectives. That is the goal of the game was not preset for all, as is the case with many games such as the Life classic that I now play with my children.

Another aspect of this kind of game, that is enjoyable to younger players is an  kind of ‘role playing’ concept under which the player could choose, for example,  an astronauts career path (if fame was the main objectives on his or her secret ambition card).

The dice is used in this game, so lady luck plays a big part, but that said the setting of objectives and career choices to match those objectives make this a fascinating and enjoyable game for around 4 people of ages 8 and over.

I would strongly recommend anyone that has played (and enjoyed) the board game Life to get hold of an old copy of this Waddington’s classic, which is still available on

Waddington’s Buccaneer board game for parties


Here is another great board game, from the UK game manufacturer Waddington’s, this game is still available on EBay (in particular the UK site

I spent many a happy hour playing this game with my family, which conveniently consisted of 6. If you enjoy board games then add this to your collection, with the other recommendations I write about. Also let me know, in the comments, if you have played this or similar board games.

Waddington’s version of buccaneer is so much superior to the modern Pirates of the Caribbean type of race games that you will see today. The original Buccaneer game from Waddington was first produced in the 1930′s. I used to play, as a child, with a 1970′s version although the game is basically the same no matter which version is used. That said I would always check that the version supports up to 6 players (some only had 4 ships) and all the pieces are present in the game as buying replacement game parts is extremely difficult.

The game can be played with 2 to 6 players and from ages 8 to adult.

What I like about this game is the freedom of movement, in that the player points his or her ship in the direction they want to go and sets off.  The destination can be treasure island or a trading port or to battle with another pirate ship. The number of moves (squares) a player can make is determined by the players sailing strength and the players fighting strength determines the outcome of battling another pirate ship. Both sailing strength and fighting strength are calculated from cards that are given out at the start but can be changed during the game.

This game allows for multiple strategies, collecting treasure as well adding to fighting or sailing strength. The basic idea is to collect a certain amount of treasure but there are various ways this can be done, including taking it from other pirates during a battle, which of course is the most satisfying way to get your bounty.

Overall this is one of the most enjoyable board games I played growing up and I would recommend it, especially for 4 to 6 players. The game can be played in around an hour.

Hunt the thimble party game


Hunt the thimble

This game is simple to play and involves your quests trying to find an object. The version of Hunt the thimble that I remember was played indoors and the party was split into teams (4 people in each team works well but smaller or larger teams can be formed). One team (the hunters) goes out of the room whilst the other team hides the thimble (or other small object). When the ‘hunters’ reenter the room they begin to search for the thimble.

Hot and cold clues (hints) can be given to the hunters if they have not found the thimble after a few minutes. The way this works is that the team that have hidden the thimble tell each of the hunters that they are hot, warm or cold. Being hot means the person is close to the thimble, cold means they are not close and warm is in between. For example if 4 people are hunting then: Susan is hot, Jenny and Simon are warm and David is cold. The hunters then look at their position (and the others) in the room and adjust their area of search accordingly. When a person is very close other terms could be used, extremely hot, white hot etc.

If the game is played outside then it could be played using the same guidelines as hunt the thimble (using the clues hot and cold) and the object could be slightly bigger. Eastern egg hunts are based on this theme and placing many similar items to be found is another way to play this game.

I remember attending a birthday party (many years ago) and the hostess had prepared individually wrapped small presents with each of the guests’ names on them and hidden them around the garden. The children then proceeded to find their own present as well as help each other during the search. With this particular game I recall the hostess (my friend’s mother) had to guide me as to where my present was. The presents were all small walking toys that would move down an inclined ramp, so that after we all had found our toys we started playing with them as a group activity.

For older kids a game of treasure hunt might be more suitable with written clues and maps being given out to teams. This activity, which I will describe in a later post, is ideal for a pirate’s themed party.


Pass the parcel party game


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!


A classic party game of musical chairs

Musical chairs

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.