Musical Chairs or Cushions (5 upwards).
Set up chairs or cushions in 2 rows back to back. Put out one less chair/cushion than there are children. Start playing the music and ask the children to walk all around the chairs/cushions until the music stops. When the music stops, the children must each sit on a chair/cushion. The child without a chair/cushion is 'out'. You might like to have a bowl of sweets to offer to each child that is 'out' so they don't feel too humiliated - but don't make it so tempting that everybody wants to be 'out'! Then remove another chair/cushion. If there is ever a tie, don't spend ages making a decision, just replay that round.
Animal Musical Chairs.
The player left standing must pull the name of an animal, written on a piece of paper, out of a hat. Then, they must act it out while the other guests try to guess what the animal is. Start the music again and repeat the game until there's only one chair left.
Musical Statues (5 upwards)
Play some music, and watch the children dance and jump about. Without notice, turn off the music and the children need to freeze. If any body moves they are 'out'. As with musical chairs, you might like to have a bowl of sweets to give to this child so they don't feel too humiliated - but don't make it so tempting that everybody wants to be 'out'! Repeat until there is just one person left.
Hot Potato (5 upwards)
Sit the children in a circle and choose one to sit out wearing a blindfold. Begin by passing a potato around the circle, while the 'blind' child stands to one side. Everyone must accept the potato, and may not hold it longer than a second. At any point the 'blind' child can yell, 'Hot Potato', and whoever has the potato is out (Think about using that invaluable bowl of sweets again!) Continue to play until there is only one person left, and they are the winner. A really good variation is to follow the theme of your party. Use an appropriate item to pass around the circle instead of a potato. .
Duck, Duck, Goose (5 upwards)
This classic children's game is perfect for any party. Gather your guests to sit in a circle and let the birthday child begin as the 'Goose'. They walk around the circle tapping each child on the head, saying 'duck' with each tap. When they are ready to choose the next person to be Goose, they say 'goose' when tapping that person on the head. That child gets up and chases the birthday child around the circle. If the new Goose does not tag the birthday child before they make it all the way around the circle and sit in the open spot, then the new Goose becomes 'it'. If the new Goose tags the birthday child, then the birthday child remains 'it' for the next round and the game continues.
Decorate a Birthday Banner (5 upwards)
Unroll a roll of unwanted wallpaper and mount it plain side up on a wall within easy reach of your guests. At the top of the 'banner', write 'Happy Birthday (your child's name)'. You could lay the paper on the floor if you're worried some of the artists may mistake your wall for their canvas!
Provide a variety of crayons and felt pens and let the children create their own masterpieces. Don't forget to ask each artist to write their name and age beside their drawing. You can even encourage them to write a special message to the birthday child. After the party, fold it up and save it, or if you'd prefer, take a close-up picture so you can tuck it inside your photo album later.
Chinese Whispers (5 upwards)
Sit the children in a circle on the floor. Sit with them and begin by whispering a phrase into the ear of the person next to you. One by one, each person whispers the sentence (as they hear it) to the person next to them. It makes its way around the circle and when the last person receives the message they repeat it out loud - usually with very amusing consequences! By this time the children will have got the hang of it so you can extricate yourself from the circle and leave the children to take turns starting with their chosen sentence.
Fishing Game (5 upwards) - wonderful for a sea life themed party
You will need a helper for this activity. Tie a string across the room and hang a sheet over it so no-one can see what is on the other side. Use an old fishing pole, or make one using a stick and some string. Attach a clothes peg to the end of the fishing pole's string. Let each guest take a turn 'casting' their line over the sheet. Get your helper to stand on the other side of the sheet and attach small fishy gifts to the clothes peg, giving the line a slight tug on the line when they're attached. When the children reel in their lines, they'll be delighted to see what they've caught!
Jelly Eating Contest (6 and upwards) (probably a better game for a smallish party!)
Make one bowl of jelly for each child (plus have a few extra on hand). Line the bowls along the ground. It's a good idea to place a tablecloth or other protective covering on the ground for easy clean up. Each player places their hands on the ground beside their bowl and must keep them there throughout the game. When the command is given to start, all the contestants begin eating their jelly. The first one to clean their bowl completely, wins. Be sure to have a camera ready to capture the memorable moments! Great pictures to attach to your thank you letters after the party!
Freeze Tag (6 and upwards)
For this popular game, guests need to spread out in the party area (or better still, outside where there's room to run). Let the birthday child be the first 'tagger'. The 'tagger' tries to tag all the other guests. If a player is tagged, he or she must freeze. Players who are not frozen can 'melt' frozen players by touching them. The first player to be frozen three times becomes the next 'tagger'. You need to keep a close eye on who's being 'frozen' - with large groups this isn't so easy.
Edible Jewellery (6 and upwards - any younger and it takes forever!)
You will need at least 60cm of string for each guest, sweets and cereal with holes, and small bowls to put them in. Before the party, fill the small bowls with the sweets and cereal and place them within easy reach of your guests at the party table. Give each child a length of string with the first sweet or piece of cereal tied on the end - otherwise anything the child threads on will fall off! Let them create a necklace, bracelet, anklet, etc. They'll have lots of fun creating their own yummy, edible jewellery!