Mystery gift pass
What it is: A fun party activity, perfect for younger kids in big groups. My mom (who was room mom for at least one of her kids every year) used this for class holiday parties all the time.
Best for: Big group of about 20 players.
What you need: You’ll need several things for this activity. First, you’ll need some small, cheap gifts or party favors or candy (the kind of little cheap stuff from the Oriental Trading Company, for example, or maybe some gifts from your local dollar store). You’ll want one gift for each person expected to play. You’ll also need wrapping paper, and, depending on how many people you’re preparing for, maybe several rolls of it. Finally, some appropriately-themed music (like Christmas music, if it’s a Christmas party) to play isn’t required, but it’s nice to have.
How to play: First, you’ll have to prepare a little by wrapping the mystery gift. Before the party starts, take you first gift and wrap it in wrapping paper. It’s okay if it doesn’t look good, because by the end, nothing will look good.
After you’ve wrapped your first gift, take another, put it on top of the wrapped gift, and wrap the whole thing with another layer of wrapping paper. Repeat this for as many gifts as you have. It might be fun to use different patterns of wrapping paper for each layer. When you’re done, you should have a lumpy, squishy wrapped gift ball that looks something like this:
Then, when it comes time for the party, have everyone sit in a circle on the floor. Give the gift ball to one child and explain how the game works: You’re going to play some music, and while the music is playing, the children pass the gift around the circle. When the music stops, whoever is holding the gift gets to unwrap one layer of wrapping paper and keep whatever surprise falls out. Then that child leaves the circle and the game continues, until every child has received a gift. (My mom also always gave a little spiel with the theme “take what you get and don’t throw a fit.”)
Then let the game start! Kids love the anticipation of waiting for the music to stop, opening a layer of wrapping paper, and getting a prize. Just be sure that everyone gets one!
Considerations: Some things to keep in mind – if you’re playing with boys and girls, it’s probably best to have only non-gender-specific gifts, or to allow trading at the end so any boys stuck with something pink can trade it away. Also, you might want to explain beforehand whether trading at the end is allowed or not. Finally, depending on how mature your players are, you might want to consider having every prize very similar (maybe just different colors) so that children don’t get upset if they don’t get what they want. Have fun!