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Inexpensive Birthday Party Games for Dads on a Budget

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 01-04-2009

You don’t have to hire a magician or a pony to make a child’s birthday party a success. The only real expense you might have to endure is birthday cake and ice cream. Otherwise, kids just need some easy-to-create fun activities. You can go fly a kite or take a trip together to the local playground. 
If you want to be more industrious, here are some easy-to-make attractions that will keep a group of kids (4-10) busy for a few hours:

Fishing game:
What it is: Plywood 3-sided structure about 5 feet tall and 8 feet long, painted front to look like water. Fishing poles made from bamboo poles about 3’ long with string attached and clippie clothes pin tied on the other side.

Materials needed: 2 4×8’ sheets of plywood, 4 bamboo poles (6’ long and cut to 3’ each) string cut to 4’ long, spring clothes pins to clip on fishing prizes. VOLUNTEER to cut the plywood and assemble the exhibit, and paint the front. Small prizes to be “fished” for.

How to play: Volunteers sit behind exhibit. Kids come up and throw the fishing line over the “water”. Volunteers clip on prizes, small toys, stickers or candies.

Pirate Ship Walk the Plank
What it is: A balance beam with a large cut-out graphic of a pirate ship attached at one end. It sits on a blue tarp trimmed to look like water. (The school may have balance beams we can borrow)
 
Materials needed: A balance beam. A large board, about 5’x6’ cut out and painted to look like a pirate ship (maybe with a shark). A blue painter’s tarp with the edges rounded to look like a pool of water. Pirate dress-up of some sort: a pirate hat, hooked hand, eye patch and vest. Plastic gold coins.
 
How to play: Dress up like a pirate and try to walk the plank without falling off. Winners retrieve a plastic coin from the ship at the end.

Buried Treasure
What it is: Extra large plastic treasure chests filled with bird seed to conceal the prizes inside. Lids of the chests are secure in a slightly open position.

Materials needed: 2 or 3 large plastic treasure chests ($14.25 dollars each at Rhode Island Novelty) size about 20”x14x14, though larger would be better. Large bags of bird seed. Plastic coins or small wrapped candy to dig for. Bandanas for blindfolds. Something to secure the lid partially opened.

How to play: Feel through the birdseed in search of a buried prize!

Tattoos and Face Painting Booths
What it is: Parent volunteers apply press on tattoos on the kids. Tattoos are soaked for a few seconds in warm water against a sponge then applied. Other parent volunteers do face painting with glitter.

Materials needed: Plastic storage containers, kitchen sponges, warm water, tattoos, face paints, superfine glitter, guide book of face painting, paper towels, fine paint brushes, hand mirrors.

Fortune Telling Booth
What it is: Volunteer dresses as a Gypsy Fortune Teller.

Materials needed: A VOLUNTEER! Perhaps some kind of magical looking ball, a small tent, chair, table, tarot cards, flowing curtains and scarves!!!

Ring a Lolli Pop
What it is: Traditional ring toss with lolli pops as pegs.

Materials needed: A wooden board with holes drilled into it (or pegboard), and a way to angle it. Table to set it up on. Rings and lots of lollipops. This could be a mobile game that is worn as a harness and strolled through the crowd?!?

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