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May 2000


With the warmer weather coming, you may wish to plan a backyard birthday party for your child. Here are some great tips and ideas for a super party for 8 or more children.


Grounds Crew: Clean-up
It helps to start with a mowed lawn.
Use a pet scooper if necessary.
If you're playing on a hard surface, sweep your game area.

Safety First!
Check for sprinkler heads!
If your backyard has sprinklers in the play area, you'll want to make sure that no one trips or gets hurt on one. If you have bright colored paper cups or even rags, use them as markers to make the sprinklers stand out more.
Check for other hazards – rocks, glass etc.
Clear any equipment or furniture that might be in the way.

Get positioned
Before you start, make sure your game is not directed towards windows and other breakables.

Pet Rules
If you have a backyard pet, you'll need to have every player agree to "Backyard Pet Rules" before you start your game! You'll want to make sure that your pet is out of the way and does not get hurt.

Natural Objects
Using natural obstacles can be part of the fun. For instance, there is little chance that you can do much about
a steep slope in your yard. But, why not make it part of the game?


“Bubble Trouble”

Each participant creates a bubble wand by unwrapping his or her coat hanger and making a loop at the end small enough to fit into the pie pan. Bend the excess hanger so there is no sharp end to stick anyone. Mix together a couple of tablespoons of liquid detergent and approximately 1 cup of water (experiment with the amount of water to dish detergent based on the size of your container). Use the homemade bubble wand to dip into the mixture and blow bubbles The participant who can make the biggest bubble wins.

Players stand in a circle facing each other about 1-2 feet apart. A player
on one side takes the larger ball, while a player on the opposite side starts with the smaller ball. At the same time, the players start to pass the balls to the player on their left as fast as possible. The players must try to make one ball catch up with the other ball. If a ball is dropped, play starts from the beginning. For larger groups use more balls, and every time a ball catches up with another use one less ball.

“Don’t Pop The Balloon”
Each player gets some shaving cream to lather a blown up balloon, and a plastic knife or straw. Players must attempt "to shave" the shaving cream off the balloon using the plastic knife or straw, without popping it. The player who can "shave" the balloon clean (without it popping) wins.

“Dress Down Derby”
Divide each team into two groups. Then, divide each team into two sub-groups. The two subgroups from each team should stand a short distance apart and face each other. Place a suitcase of clothes in front of
the first player in a subgroup from each team. On the caller's signal, the first person opens the suitcase and starts to put on all the clothes, being sure to tie the shoes and button any buttons. When the player is dressed, he or she closes the suitcase and runs the short distance to the first person in the other subgroup. Once there, the dressed-up player removes the clothes and places them in the suitcase. The next person who is waiting then repeats the whole procedure, getting dressed and running across to the next player in line. The winners are the team that everyone has dressed and undress first. What you need to play: 2 hats; 2 pairs of adult-size pants; 2 pairs of adult-size shoes; 2 suitcases. Add items such as socks, wigs or gloves to make it more challenging for older children.

“Balloon Race”

Divide up the group of players into teams of two each. Set up all of the players at a designated starting line. Each pair (or team) will receive one half-inflated balloon. The pairs will be working together as teams to get to the finish line -- while holding the balloon together between their two shoulders -- as quickly as possible. An observer or parent blows the whistle to start the race. The pairs race to the finish line but are not allowed to touch the balloon with their hands. Pairs MUST hold the balloon between their two shoulders using cooperation as they move toward the finish line.

“Bean Heads”

Designate a start line and an end line at opposite side of the play area. Players line up in two teams behind the start line. The first player in each line must put a bean bag on their head and run from the start to the end line and back - without using their hands. If the bean bag falls off of their head, they must return to the start line and begin again. When the player makes it back to the start line they hand off the bean bag to the next player and that player must run to the end line and back and so on until all the players on team have finished the race. The first team to get through all of their players, wins.

Here is a list of more timeless games that surely don’t need explaining:

Egg On A Spoon Relay
Pass The Orange
Tug Of War
Dodge Ball
Egg Toss
Wheelbarrow Races
Musical Chairs
Bobbing for Apples