My daughter loves a good party. Let’s face it, who doesn’t (apart from the parents!). However, whilst she is happy to get involved in most aspects of a party, when it comes to joining in any games, she prefers to observe from afar.

You see, she does not deal very well with losing and would, therefore, prefer to sit things out rather than deal with the stress of feeling defeated. This is a common trait at this age, however, it did make it difficult to plan party games for her ensuing fifth birthday party.

The easy option would have been to hire an entertainer, however, she really wanted to play games. So my challenge was to find activities where everyone was a winner.

So after a bit of trial and error here are my Top 10 Party games for 5-year-olds that don’t like losing. If you want to jump straight to the games that were a big hit at her ‘beach’ themed 5th birthday party then check out the fun Beach Party Games we played.

The SECRET to getting every child to participate in EVERY game…

My grand plan was to give a prize/party bag favour to every child whenever they take part in a game. So at the end of the party, each child should have exactly the same. Instead of offering party bags, the children can collect the contents of their own party bag throughout the course of the party. Perhaps the first game can be to win or design the party bag vessel (be it a bag, a bucket, box, etc.)? We did this at my daughter’s last party and it went down incredibly well. Every single child participated.

If you need some party bag ideas then check out the prizes I distributed at my daughter’s beach party. Or if these beach themed favours don’t work for you then I am sure you will find some inspiration in either my Top 10 Crafty Party Bag Fillers or my Top 10 Party Bag Filler stockists.

1. Treasure Hunt

Preparation: 10 to 20 minutes

Materials: Creating treasure and finding it

Instructions: Taking inspiration from my daughter’s excitement during Easter over an Easter Egg hunt, a treasure hunt is a great way to ensure everyone is a winner. Try and work it around your theme, for example, if it’s a Pirate party then look for coins, or if it’s a beach party then find little plastic fish. Alternatively, to keep costs down, use themed stickers stuck onto small circles of card.  At the end of the game, the kids can cash in their findings for a small prize. If you want to make it fair, then give each child a specific colour of treasure that he/she needs to find, that way they will all collect the same amount of treasure.

2. Hedgehogs

Preparation: None

Materials: A blanket

Instructions: This one sounds a bit dull but bear with me as my kids absolutely love it. Everyone runs around in a circle and on the cry of ‘Hedgehogs’ everyone kneels down and curls themselves up into a ball as small as possible with their hands over their heads and their eyes shut. Once you are sure no one is looking put a blanket over one of them. Then ask them ‘”Who is the hedgehog?’ and then they have to guess who is covered up. It’s hilarious as they tend to stare wildly around the circle shouting out any name that comes to them. Everyone wants to have a go at being the hedgehog.

Top 10 Party games for 5-year-olds - Hedgehogs

3. Musical Number bumps

Preparation: 10 minutes

Materials: Coloured card, pen, music

Instructions: A little preparation is required for this one. Cut out some large coloured circles and number them in BIG writing. You will need a circle for each child. Play some music and when the music stops each child must find a dot to plonk their bottom on. You then pull a number out of a hat and that person sitting on a number gets a prize. You then remove the dot and the child so you are left with just one child (who is effectively the winner but no one will notice as they all will have received a prize).

4. Don’t eat Tommy Smartie

Preparation: Minimal

Materials: Smarties, plate

Instructions: Ask the children to sit in a circle and take one child out of the room.  While they are out of the room pour a few Smarties onto a plate and ask one of the children to chose a Smartie to be “Tommy Smartie”. Bring the child back into the room and tell the child to start eating the Smarties one by one. When he/she lifts “Tommy Smartie” then all the kids have to shout out loudly “DON’T EAT TOMMY SMARTIE”. It’s a very simple game but the kids love it and will all want to have a go. As a result, it can take a while to play, but it’s a good way to keep them occupied.

If you want to keep the sugar consumption down then only pour a few Smarties on the plate each time. You can also change the sweets (Jelly Babies, Haribo) and change the cry of ‘Don’t eat . . .’ to fit your theme.

Top 10 Party games for 5-year-olds - Smarties

 5. Duck duck goose

Preparation: None

Materials: None

Instructions: A simple game that my daughter learnt at nursery and still enjoys playing it now. Everyone sits in a circle. The birthday girl/boy starts by being ‘it’ and walks around the circle tapping each person on the head saying either “duck” or “goose”. If they say “goose” then that person has to chase ‘it’ around the circle and try and tap him before they are able to sit down in the “goose’s” spot.

Fun games chosen specifically for young children that don't like losing | Top 10 Party Games for 5 year olds | The Parent Express
6. Pin the tail on a . . .

Preparation: 45 minutes

Materials: Large piece of card, pens, pencils, Blu Tack

Instructions: You can pin a tail on anything these days, not just donkeys. Perhaps use a character from your party theme. For example, our next door neighbour is obsessed with ‘space’ so when he celebrated his fourth birthday recently they had a ‘Pin the spaceman in his rocket’ game. Other ideas are ‘Pin the horn on a unicorn, ‘Pin the spikes on a dinosaur’, etc.

Pinning the spaceman on the rocket

For those of you that don’t know how to play, you simply draw an object (Rocket) on a large piece of paper and mount it on the wall. You then cut out lots of different spacemen (perhaps named/coloured so you can differentiate between them). Everyone takes their turn to be blindfolded and tries to pin their spacemen in the rocket. The one closest is effectively the winner but everyone gets a prize.

7. Flour mountain

Preparation: Minimal

Materials: Oil/plastic table cloth, flour, tray, bowl, Jelly Babies

Instructions: This one is a bit messy but it makes for some great photos. To keep the mess to a minimum, lay out an oil/plastic table cloth on the floor. Pack some flour into a bowl and turn it upside down onto a tray and remove the bowl. Then place a sweet on top. Each child then takes turns, kneeling with their hands behind their backs and attempts to take the sweet off with their teeth. WARNING: This game needs some careful supervision as you don’t want anyone to breathe wet flour up their nose!

8. Pass the Hula Hoop

Preparation: Minimal

Materials: Hula Hoop crisps, straws

Instructions: Ask the children to stand in a circle (or two circles if there is a big crowd) and give each child a straw. Give a Hula Hoop crisp to the birthday boy/girl and then they have to start the process of passing the Hula Hoop around the circle from straw to straw without the Hula Hoop falling off.

Another variation on this game is passing the satsuma around in the circle using only your chin.

9. Disco dancing

Preparation: 1 hour (selecting suitable songs) or less if you already have a playlist

Materials: Music system & speakers, song selection (Spotify) and disco lights (see Maplin for some good cheap options)

Instructions: Most kids love an opportunity to dance so pop on some funky tunes and watch them boogie. Make it more exciting by offering prizes/medal/badge for the best jump, funkiest move, best twirl, etc. Just make sure you have enough categories to ensure each child gets a prize.

10. Spin the bottle

Preparation: 15 minutes

Materials: Plastic bottle, paper

Instructions: No drinking or kissing I promise! This one is strictly for children. Spin an empty plastic bottle, and whoever it points to must do a simple forfeit. Perhaps have a bowl of forfeits that an adult can randomly select so that you don’t have to think on the spot.  It could be singing a nursery rhyme, doing a roly-poly, etc.


As your guests arrive give everyone a label with their name on it.  It will be useful for some of the games mentioned above plus if you do need to grab someone’s attention then at least you know who everyone is.


I hope you find this list useful. Good luck with your party. Let me know if you tried any of the games listed above and how they went down with your little guests.