You’ve booked the date, invited the kids, planned the menu and sorted out the cake but how are you going to entertain the kids? If you are looking for age appropriate activities to organise for the kids, Sara Keli has the lowdown on the best activities for each age group from babies through to tweens.

Toddlers (1-3)

At this age stay away from structured games and opt instead to provide play opportunities. I mean, what self respecting two-year-old is going to hand over a parcel that they know has goodies wrapped inside?? A party at a park for this age is ideal because they can play on the equipment, run around and burn off some energy and then head home for a sleep!

If you want to organise some party activities, bubbles are always a winner, as is a ball pit, dancing games or even a parachute with balls on it that you can bounce up and down. Avoid anything that requires them to sit still and pay attention for too long or anything that involves queuing and waiting for a turn. Activities that they can do on their own are also ideal such as drawing, balancing games or dress ups.

Preschoolers (3-5)

This age is when you can start bringing out all the classic games. Pass the parcel (or parcel parcel as my daughter calls it), pin the tail on the donkey, egg and spoon race, musical chairs, Simon says, What’s the time Mr Wolf, limbo and the like. Other activities that encourage play and movement are also going to be a hit such as a treasure hunt, hiring a jumping castle, running races etc.

At this preschool age, party entertainers are also a great idea as they can keep the kids engaged with a mix of play and activities like face painting, balloon animals and perhaps even magic tricks. A good party entertainer will know how to cater age appropriate activities.

Younger Kids (5-8)

By the time kids start school, they are more able to sit and focus on an activity. Cupcake decorating, plaster painting, mask making, craft and other organised activities can work well.

All the classic games are also great for this age as well as games like donuts on a string (tie a donut to one end of a piece of string, tie the other end to the clothesline and the kids have to try and eat the donut with no hands – fastest wins), charades, celebrity heads or even a dress up relay race (divide the kids into two teams and give each team a selection of dress ups and see which team can all try on the dress ups the fastest).

Tweens (8-11)

This age is a tricky one. They like to think they are much older than they are and want party activities to match! The chocolate game is always a hit and craft or other creative activities are often good options for this age.

Photo booths are a fun idea for any party but particularly suited to this age when they know they way around a camera. If you are really into it you can have a portable photo printer (such as an HP Sprocket) there for them to print out their photos.

Pamper parties are increasing in popularity and are perfect for tweens. There are salons that will run a pamper party for you or you can also quite easily do a DIY at home. All you need is some nail polish, a bit of glitter, some lip-gloss and you are set.

If your kids are into gaming, mobile video game parties are a huge hit. The kids will love them, of course, and it is play that they are very familiar with. If you want this type of party but want them to move around a bit more, look into a location like Timezone, which will also suit a variety of interests.

The most important thing is that the kids have fun. If you know they will have fun by drawing or running around the backyard then do that. If you know they need some more structure with a few party games then organise those. And don’t forget to give yourself some time to sit back and enjoy the laughter and fun of your kid celebrating their birthday with all their friends.

About Sara

Sara Keli is the Editor of Kid Magazine. When she isn’t writing, designing or creating, you can find her enjoying the sunshine on her back deck with her two daughters or escaping into a good book.

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Image: Elise Garner, lecoco.com.au