Pass the parcel is one of those fun kids’ games that’s always a hit at parties. It can also be a great learning game for the classroom.
All you need is a little imagination, music and some kind of wrapping paper and you’re good to go.
Here are some pass the parcel ideas. There are some gift ideas, different ways to play the game, and a few soundtracks.
How to Play Pass the Parcel
The basic rules of the pass the parcel game are simple:
- The children sit in a circle.
- They pass around a parcel that is wrapped in multiple layers, while music is playing.
- When the music stops, the child who is holding the parcel must unwrap one layer and take their prize, or perform the action (forfeit).
- Continue until the last person unwraps the last layer to reveal what’s inside.
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Pass the Parcel Gift Ideas
You can play this game with or without gifts. If you choose to use gifts, find small, inexpensive items that can be concealed in the layers.
Here are a few ideas:
- Packs of stickers
- Small notebooks
- Fun pens or pencils
- Boxes of crayons
- Bouncing balls
- Slinky spring toys
- Squishy toys
- Fidget toys
- Slap bracelets
- Sticky hands
- Small puzzles (here are some printable puzzles)
- Small books
- Pencil erasers
You can find lots of small sets of party favours online. Find some here.
10 Pass the Parcel Ideas for Kids
Here are some simple pass the parcel game ideas to try with kids. Change them to suit the age and maturity of your kids.
Remember, for young children, it’s best if everyone receives a turn and a gift. There are also fun ways to play this game without gifts.
1. Classic Pass the Parcel
To play the classic version of this carpet game, wrap a gift, then keep adding layers, leaving a gift in each layer.
Make sure there are as many gifts as there are children.
Play some fun music in the background. There are some examples of suitable music tracks at the end of this article.
2. Guess the Animal
For this version of pass the parcel with a difference, place a picture of an animal inside each layer.
When a child opens the wrapping paper, they must act out the animal in the picture and see if anyone can guess the animal.
This makes the game fun and interactive, and will encourage lots of giggles.
Make sure the last animal inside the last layer is very interesting, either very challenging, or just fun to act out.
3. Treasure Chest
This version is easier to play with younger kids, to make sure everyone gets a toy, and to keep their attention throughout, instead of losing their attention each time a toy is unwrapped.
Place all the toys into a small box (or small treasure chest if you have one). Make sure there is one per child. Preferably make them all the same.
Wrap the box in multiple layers and play the game. When the last child finds the “treasure,” that child can hand out a gift to each child.
4. What’s Inside?
For this version, instead of wrapping gifts, choose any object such as a toy, a musical instrument, or a book.
Give the kids a riddle that doesn’t give away too much info, such as “I take people to faraway places.” Wrap the item in multiple layers and play the game.
Each time a child is about to take a layer off, they can have a go at guessing what’s in the package. The child who takes off the final layer reveals if anyone guessed correctly.
5. Colour Parcel
Teach young kids colour recognition by wrapping each layer in a different colour paper.
Very young kids can name the colour as they take off their layer, and older kids can try to guess what colour is under the layer they are about to take off.
Don’t use the same colour twice. This means kids must take note of what colours have already been unwrapped and try to guess a new colour.
Hide some colourful gifts in the final layer for everyone.
6. Listening Game
Build listening skills by telling children to listen for a specific word or phrase in the song. Every time you hear that phrase, the person holding the parcel may remove one layer to reveal a gift or task.
7. The Story Continues
Get some creative and thinking juices flowing with this game, suitable for older children.
In the inner layer of the parcel, hide a character who will be part of a story – such as a bear or an elephant. Fluffy toys, dolls and figurines will work well for this.
Start the story: “Once upon a time there was a bear who had a red bow around his neck. He went for a walk in the woods.”
Then pass the parcel to the next child, who takes off a layer of paper and continues the story by adding the next part to it: “He heard a strange sound and felt scared.”
Continue passing on the package until the last person reveals the character.
Let the story go in whatever direction it takes. It could be fun, interesting, or completely ridiculous.
8. Number Fun
This game takes a little more concentration but is a great way to develop number concept and one-to-one correspondence.
Place a number inside each layer of the parcel. The number represents how many children the parcel must be passed to.
So, if the number says “5”, the children all count together as the parcel goes from one child to the next. The fifth child can then unwrap a layer and see the number they have to count out.
To ensure everyone gets a turn, if the number lands on a child who has already had a turn, they have to pass it to the next person. Hide a small gift for each person in the final layer.
9. Pass the Parcel Forfeits
Another way to play the game is to include forfeits, dares or tasks that a child has to follow inside each layer.
Depending on the age of the child, these can be very simple, or more daring and challenging for older kids. You can even use picture cards for young children who can’t read yet.
Here are a few examples of silly pass the parcel tasks:
- Clap your hands and turn around
- Sing the Happy Birthday song
- Pretend to be an angry monkey
- Do a silly dance together wtih the person next to you
10. Ideas for Wrapping the Parcel
There are many ways to wrap the parcel, and using different textures and colours can make the game interesting.
Here are a few ideas:
- Wrapping paper with fun prints
- Plain coloured paper
- Tissue paper
- Brown paper
Pass the Parcel Music Ideas
Here are three soundtracks to get you started:
- Pass the Parcel (The Wiggles) – Play this song in the background. There are regular pauses so you don’t have to stop the music manually. Listen to the tune on youTube.
- Birthday Game Music – Play this fun birthday game music with stops. It is long enough to play in the background for a while. It can also be used to play musical statues and musical chairs.
- Children’s Party Fun – This is a soundtrack of upbeat music that can be played for a game of pass the parcel at a party or in class. This one should be manually paused.
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