Play it Old School with 9 Classic Party Games

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It’s 1985, you’ve got on a paper crown and a delicious artificially-flavored treat in your hand—waiting for your chance to be blindfolded and twirled. Yup, it’s the classic summer birthday party. Easy for all and always a blast, we dug up 9 ideas to help bring back simple games from the days when you partied with your pals.

1. Pass the Parcel
A dressed-up version of Hot Potato, kids toss the mega-wrapped “gift” from hand to hand—when the music stops, a layer gets unwrapped. Choose to put a surprise in every layer or wait until the end! For a clever take on this classic (one without tunes) check out the version from Frog Goose and Bear.

passtheparcel_darren_classicgames_summerbday_national_redtricyclePhoto: Darren via flickr creative commons

2. Clothespin Drop
Remember when people actually used clothespins to hang up clothes? We do too. These days, all that hand-eye coordination you’ve been working on will come in handy during a round or two of Clothespin Drop. Kiddos stand above the jar, touch the clothespin to their nose and drop away. It’s up to you how many chances each player will get!

clothespindrop_michelle_classicgames_summerbday_national_redtricyclePhoto: Michelle C via flickr creative commons

3. Balloon Bust
Doesn’t take much to get the ball rolling on this classic party game. Add a little surprise to each balloon for an added bonus, then pass em’ out and watch em’ get popped. Kids can use any means necessary…except their hands.

balloonbust_johnkoetsier_classicgames_summerbday_national_redtricyclePhoto: John Koetsier via flickr creative commons

4. Bucket Toss
You can’t go wrong with carnival games and the bucket toss is an all-time favorite. Line up the prize-filled buckets in a row. Each kid who power-slings a ball into a bucket is the proud owner of the goodie waiting to be plucked up. Opt for three turns each, otherwise, there could be a lot of standing (or wiggling) happening!

buckettoss_midadlanticcenterforartshumanities_classicgames_summerbday_national_redtricyclePhoto: Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities via flickr creative commons

5. What’s the Time, Mr. Wolf
If this classic game doesn’t ring any bells for you parents, think Red Light, Green Light with a lot more shrieking and mad dashing. A total blast, even for young kids, this is a must-try at your next kiddie-bash. Want to know how to play? We love the simple instructions offered up by Childhood 101.

mrwolf_mikegifford_classicgames_summerbday_national_RedtricyclePhoto: Mike Gifford via flickr creative commons

6. Bobbing for Apples
It’s an original—and still hilarious. Cold water, slippery fruit and no hands allowed…bring on the giggle-fest!

bobbingforapples_robswyston_classicpartygames_summerbday_national_redtricyclePhoto: Rob Swyston via flickr creative commons

7. Blind Man’s Bluff
You knew the blindfold would come in handy, even without a piñata swinging in the trees. Playing this version of tag is easy but rules vary, so opt to either have everyone play each round and keep going or have the “tagged” person sit out until everyone is out. It’s up to you!

blindfold_eden_janine_jeff_classicgames_summerbday_national_redtricyclePhoto: Eden, Janine, and Jim via flickr creative commons

8. Peanut Hunt
It’s like an egg hunt without the mass amounts of sugar. Spread out enough peanuts so each kid will be able to fill a cup. Got kiddos dealing with allergies? Swap out the nuts for tootsie rolls, instead.

peanuthunt_rebeccasiegel_classicgames_summerbday_national_redtricyclePhoto: Rebecca Siegel via flickr creative commons

9. Button, Button: Who’s Got the Button?
Getting hotter, hotter, boiling hot! It’s a old-fashioned guessing game of the simplest design, which makes it perfect for parties. The seeker gets hints from those sitting around as to the top-secret location of the button.

buttonbutton_brent_classicgames_summerbday_national_redtricyclePhoto: b r e n t via flickr creative commons

What is your favorite birthday party game? Tell us about it in the Comments!

—Gabby Cullen

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