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Subject: Game-centered birthday party for a 9 year old rss

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Sue Hemberger

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Littlesquirrel (see http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/13029) wants a games-oriented party for her 9th birthday (which is about 3 weeks away). If she wanted to invite 3-5 close friends, all of whom already play games, I'd instantly and gladly agree. But she's talking about inviting 12-20 kids ranging in age from 5-11 and I'm not quite sure I could pull this off logistically -- i.e. keep everyone busily/happily playing simultaneously -- especially since I probably won't know for sure who's coming until they actually arrive.

Any way you can see to make her approach workable? How many game-savvy adults (and in what role(s)) would it take to pull this off? Is there some middle ground I'm missing?



 
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James Cheevers
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Have you thought about re-theming Werewolf? I'm sure a geek here could come up with something not as gruesome and you can moderate.

Or splitting people into teams for Cranium, Apples to Apples, Attribut etc?

Have prizes for winners and candy prizes for consolation and split the teams up before each game.

James
 
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Mark Ballinger
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I can tell you from experience that 12-20 is way too many.

If you can round up helpers you can break the group into smaller game groups and make each game group sized correctly for a game.

The trouble is everybody wants to be involved in a game with the birthday girl and the birthday girl wants to have everybody playing the same thing at the same time. Also, with your age range of guests you'll have to separate by age. Some kids will resent that.

I've played apples to apples with up to 9 kids; beyond that it's just unworkable. I've had werewolf (and, by the way, the kids don't mind the blood; parents do) up to 10 kids and it was fine as long as you have a firm system for shutting down conversation and moving on to voting.

Good luck! As more questions here if you have any.



 
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Mike Adams
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You know those giant, almost life-sized chess boards they have in parks sometimes? Don't do that.

However, you could try life sized Chairs using real chairs. It would definitely be memorable.



Really, my nine year old love to play games with all his friends, but I can't imagine it with a large group unless you did something like having a life-sized game setup with the kids acting as pieces. I'm not sure what game to play, but it could work. And it would be memorable.

(I'm sure my 9 year old son would pick a life-size Monsters Menace America at the moment with teams of kids working together on Monster/Military teams, but wow, that would take some work.)
 
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David G.
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Yeah Sue, as much as I want to encourage gaming, I think you're asking for trouble. Remember that as the mom, you will be tied up with other things, greeting parents, getting the cake ready, etc. To try to do that and run a game? If you had 4-5 game savvy parents that would really do the games, than maybe.

How about instead you have 3-4 kids stay late to play games? Or, maybe plan a completely separate day? Maybe on her "real" birthday?

Here's a great "game" to have up your sleeve at a birthday. It's more of an activity, but for some reason, kids love it. You're going to read it and say "what's the point", but I'm telling you, it's a nice way to kill time. Especially at the end of the party when people are leaving.

"Don't Eat Pete"
Get 3 M&Ms of varying colors. Tell the children you're going to pick one that's going to be "Pete". Tell them they need to keep it a secret. One by one a child is going to eat M&Ms, and one Pete touches their lips[/i] everyone screams "Don't Eat Pete!". The child must eat every M&M, even if "Pete" is the last one.

Have a child leave the room.
Pick 3 M&M's
Have another child pick which M&M is "Pete"
Call the child back.
Have them slowly eat the M&Ms one at a time.
As each one is about to touch their lips, pretend you're going to say "Don't Eat Pete" to build tension.
Once they do eat Pete, everyone shouts "Don't Eat Pete!". The M&M eater get to take any of the leftover 3 M&Ms with them.
Repeat until interest has sufficiently waned.

At first the kids won't really get why it's fun. But, the combination of tension, one kid getting a lot of attension, one kid getting to pick Pete, and a bunch of kids yelling makes this a birthday party winner.

I usually stand right next to the Pete eater, and stare at them intently. Sometimes I say things like "I'm going to poke you with my fingers as soon as you eat Pete." Or, "No! Not that one! Don't do it!"

Big hit.
 
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Nadine W
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You could do a treasure hunt with teams, and even a cooperative answer (such as a word puzzle which requires all the teams) at the end if you want.
 
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Nigel Thomas
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A friend and I were recently on a camp with 15 8's-10's. One wet afternoon when we couldn't go out we decided to rig up a giant sized 'Ker-plunk'. We built it out of perspex, used bamboo canes instead of straws and soft balls (Tennis size) instead of marbles.

We split the kids into two teams and the team with the most balls won. The Kids seemed to enjoy it although after a few rounds instead of making it the team with the most balls (one kid pulls a cane and all the balls come tumbling down to loud groans from the other kids) we made it the team with the least which seemed to work better.

Just a thought
 
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Melissa
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Sue, I took a bunch of games in to Biggie's classroom and it worked OK (it was Bedlam, but relatively well-controlled Bedlam).

It would help if you had an adult in charge of each game table - they don't need to be particularly game-savvy, but they need to be able to play the gamem or games at their table.

I would STRONGLY recommend that you only have 1 game at each table - for 20 kids, that means 4 or 5 games that they can choose from. Any more and they will suffer analysis paralysis just trying to decide what to play.

Remember that not all the kids will be game-savvy (read: most of them WON'T be). You will need a good range of games, including games that Littlesquirrel feels she's well beyond.

Apples to Apples Junior is a good choice, as it can play with larger groups. I recommend, though, that the adult running the table act as the judge, at least for the first time round the table. They shouldn't play, but just judge - and fudge the cards so that everyone gets a chance. 9 year olds are still young enough to be fickle about not winning, especially if they don't get any cards at all. (Obviously, this will only work for the kids that are reading confidently)

A couple of dexterity games, for those kids who aren't really into boardgames, would be a good idea. We've had success with Tier auf Tier and Make 'n' Break - something with a gimmick, like Loopin' Louie, would also be a great choice. We also had success with Dancing Eggs, although the box was a bit flimsy.

Other games that we find work well for large groups are snap variants, like Halli Galli or Snorta. (Snorta works well for the kids who aren't intellectually up to adding to 5).

Games that are also puzzles can be popular too - something like Number Chase (where the adult in charge thinks of the number) or Catch the Match seems to work well with all ages. These two also work well if someone decides to leave mid-game.


Accept, though, that if you advertise a boardgame party you are likely to get at least one copy of Monopoly as a gift. And kids *shudder* bend cards, put them in their mouths, snap them onto the table ... you don't have the control with a large group that you would with a smaller group.

Now a weird question - why won't you know who's coming until they arrive? Wouldn't the parents tell you whether their child is coming or not?
 
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Sue Hemberger

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Thanks, everyone!

Well, I've got her down to a total of 12 kids (herself included) which, realistically, probably means 8-10 show up, and the age range has narrowed to 7-11 (with the one kid at each extreme being a known game-lover). The beloved honorary little sibs not invited will get their own ice-cream playdate with the birthday girl on her(which is also my!) actual birthday.

At any rate, I think that I can find some games for the whole group to play as teams (will check out Apples to Apples) and I like the idea of parallel plays of the same games (Maptangle!) which lets everyone be a single group for purposes of explanation. I've never played Werewolf, so I'll definitely investigate that (the party will be a week before Halloween so we have a thematic tie-in if we want it).

So far, my favorite part of the Squirrel's scenario is that we're reversing the gift-giving trajectory. No one gets to bring gifts, but her party favor for each kid who comes will be a game that she loves and thinks the kid will too.

Re not knowing who is there until they are there. Judging from all of the kid parties I've witnessed involving this school, some parents tell the host/ess that their kids are coming and then they no-show, others either say no or fail to RSVP and then they show up. Can't tell if it's the demographic (lots of people with more money than time who routinely overbook their kids to the point of collapse) or the school rules (which promote mass-invites to parties where your kid barely knows the birthday child and you don't know the parent) or just what happens everywhere these days (I'm guessing not in Australia -- must keep that in mind when I decide to flee the US!!), but it seems to be a pretty consistent phenomenon.
 
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Raymond J Dennis Jr
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I think you could do it but it has to be party games. The re-theming of Werewolf is an excellent idea. My daughter went to camp this summer where they played a big game of Werewolf but it was re-themed as Harry Potter. Don't know all the details but I would guess in stead of Werewolfs you would have Dark Ones or Dementors. So that's one game. Next I would go with Upset the Fruit Basket, it's like musical chairs. That's two. Maybe a game of Capture the Flag. It's out side and gets the kids worn down. That's three. And finally you could divide the kids in two groups and play a game show type game. You could put together a bunch of puzzles have the kids work out the answers. The team that gets the most right gets... I don't know maybe their cake first.... LOL You decide. Hope these ideas help.

Oh and I would say 2 helpers besides yourself would do.
 
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Luke Morris
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Three teams, see which team can build the highest tower out of uncooked spaghetti and marshmallows.
 
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Sue Hemberger

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Re party games. Because we're a family of three, we rarely play party games. But I tried out "25 words or less" on the Squirrel this morning and she's completely enthralled. I'll have to re-do it (keep the timer, lose the 25 words or less requirement?, cut the wordlists down to 3 or 4) to make it easier for the kids, but the everyone blurts and you're all on the same team trying to beat the clock makes it an appealing choice.

We've also got lots of dexterity games -- including Pitchcar and Palazzo Paletti.

How long does Werewolf take? And won't the elimination aspect be a problem in a kids' party context?


 
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Mike Adams
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smithhemb wrote:
How long does Werewolf take? And won't the elimination aspect be a problem in a kids' party context?


When I have played it with 11 and 12 year olds, it has gone rather quickly, maybe 20-30 minutes with 13-15 kids involved. The elimination aspect can be a problem because it can be hard for them to not blurt things out after they are dead. Fortunately, I found that the other kids still alive don't believe the dead ones anyway, which makes no sense to me but the blindingly obvious apparently leaves many 11-12 year olds actually blind.

For what it's worth, most all the kids I've played it with enjoyed it immensely, but there is a big difference in the way kids act over a small number of years. It could be very different with 9 year olds. Judging by my 9 year old son and his friends, I think some of them would get into it but some of them just wouldn't get it.
 
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Sue Hemberger

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Thanks, Mike, for the Werewolf answers. I think you hit the nail on the head re some kids totally eager to play (my daughter) and others not getting (into?) it. Which means I'll avoid it at the birthday party but set up another game context for it soon.

So it looks like we're going to choose from among:

Maptangle (cooperative twister with a geographical board; 2 boards simultaneously in play; each group gets same challenge)

25 words or less (jiggered for age-appropriateness)

Palazzo Paletti/Pitchcar/Zitternix/Tier auf Tier

Dancing eggs (3 groups of 4 going simultaneously?)

And maybe Number Chase and/or Coyote.
 
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Sue Hemberger

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Well, it can be done! We had a dozen kids total -- including one first grader, two second graders, and nine third graders -- and 2-3 adults supervising (one left midway through). We played games for 3 hours -- and didn't even get to the construction toys (Cuboro, Kapla, Flying Cats, giant marble run) we had in strategic reserve.

Passe-trappe, Crokinole, and Tier auf Tier were out on one long dining room table as the kids arrived. So were 3 dozen helium balloons which they were bopping and chasing. Then Dancing Eggs and Maptangle emerged in the hall and the family room respectively and the kids spread themselves out among all the various games. We got them together for Who What Where Junior (a pictionary game where everyone draws simultaneously -- impressive silence for those two minutes, LOL! -- and then tried to help everyone else guess what they've drawn). Broke for cake, then back together for 25 Words or Less and Wer Bin Ich? (a game in which someone has a card picturing a type of person or a thing (scientist or watering can) on his/her head and gets to ask yes/no questions trying to figure out who/what it is. The object is to guess correctly before you get 10 "no" answers. Then disaggregation for more Maptangle, Tier auf Tier, etc. until pick up.

No performance anxiety/shyness or issues surrounding competition. A little jostling re turn-order, but easily resolved. I think that the kids had a good time (one "best party ever" response) and I know my husband had a blast!

 
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