Whether you're planning a birthday party with all of your youngster’s best friends or a family reunion with kids that might not have seen each other in a while, you can organize a variety of games to keep the group entertained. Through all of the play and excitement, the kids will get more familiar with one another and be cheering on their teammates in no time at all.
You can help your group of party or reunion goers get caught up with each other and the events of the past year with a simple beach ball game. Before the guests arrive, write a variety of questions on a beach ball, such as “What was your favorite school moment this year?" and “What was your favorite extracurricular activity?" Have the kids sit in a circle and toss the ball around. As each child catches the ball, he must answer the question written on the ball beneath his right thumb. Alternatively, play a game of "Who has ever..." so the kids can learn a few interesting things about each other. Print out one sheet for each guest, filled with statements, such as "been to the Caribbean," "learned how to ski" and "had an interesting pet." Make sure you do a little research to make sure the statements are applicable to the kids at your event. Print off a sheet for each youngster, have them mingle to find kids who fit the criteria and write their names beside the statements on the sheet.
Send the youngsters at your special event on a scavenger hunt to get them working together in teams and using their thinking skills. You can organize a hometown hunt to introduce your local area to out-of-town family members. Assign an adult or two to each group, give each group a camera and have the kids photograph items on your scavenger hunt list. If you’re hosting the party or reunion at a large park or conservation area, turn the scavenger hunt into a nature hunt and have the kids search for items, such as leaves, flowers and pine cones. If the children at your event are older, you can take the group on a scavenger hunt around the local shopping mall. Divide up the group and present each one with a list of free items to find at the mall, such as store receipts, napkins, clothes hangers and shopping bags. Alternatively, give each group a little bit of money and have them try to purchase as many items as possible without purchasing multiples of any one item.
Transform your party or reunion venue into a carnival for the kids -- even if you’re party planning on a tight budget. You can rent carnival games from an event rental business or make the games yourself for an eventful, but inexpensive, afternoon. Inflate balloons for a young kids’ balloon stomp game, or tape the balloons to a piece of plywood to make a balloon dart game for older kids. Make a ring toss game from old coat hooks, a beanbag toss game from plywood and set up a few laundry baskets and have the kids take turns trying to get as many balls into the baskets as they can. You can hang an old tire from a tree and have the youngsters throw footballs through it, or create a game of chance from an old door with a locking handle. Decorate the door, fill a bowl with keys -- one or two of which will open the lock -- and have the kids pick two or three keys from the bowl to try on the lock.
Relays, Races and Obstacles
Get your group of young party-goers working together in teams as they race to become champions of your event’s games. You can have the groups compete in teams of two as they pair off for a three-legged race, or divide the kids into two teams for a water and sponge relay race on a hot day. Just place a bucket full of water at one end, an empty one at the other and have the team members take turns using a sponge to fill the empty bucket with water from the full one. You can have the kids crabwalk race across a field, or set up an obstacle course for them to compete in teams. If you’d like to help them work on teamwork, have one team member navigate the obstacle course blindfolded while the others give him directions. If you don’t have the time -- or the energy -- to set up an obstacle course after all your party planning, rent a giant inflatable obstacle course instead.