7 Low Cost (or No Cost!) Party Games for Kids

7 Low Cost or No Cost Party Games for Kids

Remember when we used to go to a birthday party and play Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey? Like most kids, I was just antsy waiting for my turn but also loved watching others wobble blindfolded!

The other day, I game across a book titled “Popular Party Games.” It’s an 80-page softcover book, published in 1976 and it cost …. $1.00! I couldn’t help but become nostalgic for the days when birthday parties were held at home with a few simple games, cake and treat bags.

Here are 7 of my favorite games from the book. I hope you enjoy them and find them helpful! They can be used at youth groups, scouting troops, homeschool co-op ice breakers and, a-hem, birthday parties!


This game is best played in round of three or four players with a final for the winners.

You will need four spools of thread. Tie a teaspoon securely to the end of the thread of each spool. Place the teaspoons on the floor at one end of the room and unwind the spools to reach the other end. Four players stand on chairs, each holding a spool. On the word “Go!” they start winding the spools by turning them in their fingers (no overhand winding is allowed!). In this way they draw the teaspoons toward them. The first to draw up a “fish” is the winner of the round.


This game is as amusing for the onlookers as for those taking part.

Cut brown paper or wallpaper into squares of about two feet, and fasten the squares to the wall with tacks or tape.

The players are blindfolded. Each is given a piece of chalk. They stand in front of their papers, and one of the onlookers chooses a subject for them to draw – such as a house, bicycle, ship, pig, etc., – within a time limit of one minute. The players are allowed to feel the edge of the paper before beginning their drawings.

When time is up, the players remove their blindfolds, and the onlookers vote for the best drawing.

Wool Gathering

Cut up some wool or other yarn into fifty or so three-inch lengths, using four different colors – say, red, greed, blue and brown. Distribute these around the room on furniture, ornaments, curtains, etc. At a given signal the players go “wool gathering.” On the word “Stop,” they count their pieces, and are told that the brown pieces score 4 points each, the blue 3, the red 2, and the green 1. (Give the highest points to the color that is the hardest to see) The player with the highest total wins the game.

Tilting the Orange

A boisterous game, played in pairs. If there are enough players, it is a good idea to have about three pairs taking part at once.

Each player has in his right hand a tablespoon with an orange (or tennis ball) on it. In his left hand he has another spoon. His aim is to knock off his opponent’s orange while keeping his own on the spoon.

Have several heats and then let the winners compete against each other.

Hurry Waiter!

Two teams of eight players stand facing one another, with a good space between the players as well as between the lines.

The first player in each team holds a plate with a ping-pong ball on it. At the word “go” this player runs in and out down the line and back again, saying to each member, “Here is your breakfast madam (or sir).” When he returns to his place, he hands the plate to the second player, who runs around the first player and then down the line, weaving in and out as before. If any player drops the ping-pong ball, he must return to his place and start again.

Family Reunion

For this game you will need to prepare beforehand the same number of cards as there are players. On each card write the name of a member of a family. There should be three members to each family, e.g., Mr. Brown, Mrs. Brown, Baby Brown.

Place the cards on the table. Around the table arrange a circle of chairs, well spaced out. The players are grouped in threes around the chairs, two standing and one seated.

When the music starts, the players begin walking around the outside of the circle. When it stops, they run to the table and each takes a card. They call out the names on their cards and re-group around the chairs in families of three.

The last three to form a family group are out of the game, and their cards are taken away. The other players return their cards to the table, the music starts again, and the game continues as before until the contest is between two groups. The first of these groups to form a family around a chair wins.

Farmyard Frolic

This is an amusing but extremely noisy game for a small party of up to ten children. When they are all sitting quietly, go up to each one and whisper the name of a farmyard animal (dog, cat, hen, cow, etc.). AT the word “Go,” each child then makes the sound of the animal he has been given. When the noise becomes unbearable, ring a bell and shout, “All quiet!” Then the children must write down as many of the animal sounds as they remember hearing.

Aren’t those fun?!? What were your favorite childhood party games? Do you know of any others? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!

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