Pass the parcel is one of those classic kids party games that works just as well today as it did when I played it at my birthday parties back when I was a child. I added my version of “danger pass the parcel” to my children's birthday show a good few years ago and having played pass the parcel hundreds of times since, I am pleased to share some tips that you can use that I feel spice up this classic party game.
Watch below video for a walkthrough of what, where, when and why.
You should get a good 5 to 8 minutes from my version of pass the parcel and if you wish to make the party game slightly longer, simply add a layer or two. I have found the layering as it is outlined below to be the sweet-spot between getting enough engagement without overstretching the game so as not to bore the children.
Stuff you will need for your pass the parcel
- A prize
- Wrapping paper
- Forfeits – printed or written pieces of paper
- Appropriate music
Firstly the prize is important, it should reflect the age range of the children and be small enough to wrap yet large enough to look exciting. I have used many prizes over the years and I find puzzle and colouring books work well. These books are cheap and you can pick them up from a pound store usually in multi packs for a pound.
The wrapping should be colourful and exciting and I advise not wrapping your pass the parcel in newspaper as it is messy and not very appealing. A good idea is to get some plain parcel paper or brown paper and have the birthday child paint it or colour it in in the run-up to the birthday party. This is a fun activity and when the game is played on the day it makes it all the more special.
This is what makes the game fun. Hidden in most of the layers are interactive action forfeits that the children do. The kids love this and it gets great reactions and adds to the enjoyment. To get the most out of this game, do the actions with the children and make comments about how well they are doing using their names.
The actions I use in my pass the parcel are in the following order:
- Jump on one leg
- Act like a monkey
- Pull a funny face and make the birthday child laugh
Wrapping your pass the parcel
It's best to not wrap the parcel too well as little hands can struggle to get the wrapping off; I suggest lose wrapping using minimal cellotape to allow little gaps that hands can fit into. I wrap the prize and put the “funny face” action on this first covering. The next wrap has the "monkey action" stuck on it and the wrap after that has nothing. The next to final wrap has the "jump on one leg action" which is found after the first wrapping is removed and the last wrap is to make the whole present look appealing.
Children do not like baby songs and nursery rhyme music so avoid using this when playing the game. Use up-tempo modern music with few to little words to set the pace and mood of the game. I personally use the crazy frog version of popcorn for my pass the parcel party game and it works a treat.
Tips on making it memorable and interactive (see the video for a live demo of how I do it)
The secret of a good children’s entertainer is not in what they do but in how they do it. If you want to get the kids fully engaged then interact at their level, make yourself part of the game and do it with them.
Don’t speak is a sing song voice when you talk to children, speak as if you were speaking to an adult but in language they can relate to and use facial expression to let the children know you are being funny. Children often read body language of adults so integrate your body into the fun, get down on the floor with them and have some fun. Drop the barriers we develop as adults and become a child again, it is the most freeing and amazing gift you could ever give yourself let alone your child.
I hope you like my version of pass the parcel and I hope you are able to use it to bring smiles to children. I make children smile and laugh for a living and it is the best and most rewarding job in the world.