Perfect party games for all ages

Oct 15, 2009 at 3:16 p.m. ET

At your child's next birthday party, keep the kiddos happy with an array of fun party games.

Pin the tail on the donkey

You've picked a date, sent the initiations and ordered a cake. But at some point, you realize that you're going to have to figure out what these kids are going to do for the two hours you're hosting them. And that's where we come in. We've got party game ideas that will work for kids of all ages. Take a gander.

Musical chairs

The classic game works well for kids of varying ages with a few tweaks.

For younger children, our party planners recommend this no-lose version of the game: When the music stops, a child who can't find a chair sits on a friend's lap. Keep the game going until all the kids are piled onto a single chair.

Early elementary kids can play the game a little more competitively, but keep them moving by tossing handfuls of wrapped chocolates each time you stop the music. Kids have to have a chocolate AND a chair to stay in the game.

For late elementary kids, try this twist: Tape an envelope to the back of each chair. In each envelope place tasks such as, "Sing The Star Spangled Banner," or "Give a 1-minute speech in favor of raising your allowance." Instead of removing chairs, when the music stops, each child grabs a chair, chooses a card and performs.

Pass the parcel

Keep this game fun for all ages by including small, age-appropriate gifts in each layer of the wrapping. For younger kids, TV character figurines are a nice choice. Early elementary girls love lip gloss and nail polish; boys enjoy Matchbox cars. For older elementary children, try books of mad libs or brain teasers.

Pin the tail on the donkey

This game is easily adapted to meet kids' changing interests. Try Pin the Pawprint on Blue, Pin the Crown on the Princess or Pin the Steering Wheel on the Car. Small children may also enjoy helping their friends — by calling out instructions, for example. Slightly older children are a little more competitive but you can award a prize for the farthest tail to keep kids happy.

For older kids, have them try to complete an activity — such as making an ice cream sundae or decorating a cookie — while blindfolded. They may get a little messy, but that's half the fun.

Dress-up relay race

This is another activity you can easily adapt to different ages and stages. For small children, limit the dress up clothes to a hat and a prop of some sort. Older kids can have more complex costumes that involve buttons, ties and more — or include tasks to complete as part of the race, such as taking a picture, painting nail polish, steering a remote controlled car around a cone or other fun activities.

With a little creativity, just about any party game can work for a variety of ages. Do you have a favorite we didn't mention here? Share your ideas in the comments!