It's always a great idea to set up an icebreaker game station where the kids can keep busy while waiting for the guests to arrive.
Here are some of the coolest icebreaker ideas that can be set up at virtually no cost and used for any kid birthday party regardless of the chosen theme.
Here's a fun icebreaker game that works for lots of the child birthday parties. Each kid gets a baby food jar (or any other little jar or clear water bottle for that matter). They then add small sea beads, glitter, water, baby oil and blue food coloring to create their own ocean!! Stir in a few drops of glycerin (sold at most pharmacies) to increase the density of the water and cause the glitter to fall much slower. You can also use several different densities of liquid (oil, water, alcohol, etc.) and use food coloring to die each one a different color. Put these in a bottle (oil then water then alcohol) to transform it into a rainbow glitter globe. Now the kids have a great glitter globe that can be added to their party favor pack.
This icebreaker game is always fun to have and keeps kids of all ages busy. Prepare coloring pages related to your kid's birthday party theme (I've provided several coloring pages for most themes on this site, just check out the themes...) and provide crayons, markers, pastels, stickers, glitter, glue, etc. to color and decorate with. You can then decorate the party area with the coloring pages.
Edible Necklaces and Bracelets
All you'll need is string or yarn and an assortment of edible "beads", such as: Honeycomb cereal, Life Savers, licorice string, fruit loops, cheerios, gummy candy, Viola.
Matching Picture Treasure Hunt
When each child arrives, give them half of a photo/picture which has been cut diagonally (Old birthday/Christmas cards are great for this). The pair to their picture is hidden somewhere around the room or house and they have to find it. This is a great ice breaker as the older kids will often find their pairs first and want to help out the others. You can also do far more pictures than there are children and put them into two teams to find as many pairs as they can. You can also cut each picture into three or four pieces, give a piece to one person, another piece to another, and hide the two left pieces around the house. Then when the game starts, each person has to find the other person with the same piece of picture, and then together they can go out and look for the two other pieces to create a whole.
Prepare a bunch of magic tricks to hand out and have the kids learn and rehearse them while waiting for everyone to come. Later you can have a show and all the kids can perform their magic tricks.
Cheetos And Shaving Cream
Materials: shower caps, shaving cream, Cheetos, and stop watch. Rules: Divide the players into groups of two. Then, have one player put on the shower cap and one hold the bowl of Cheetos. Squirt shaving cream all over the shower cap. Set the partners a couple yards away from each other. Set the stop watch to whatever time (I usually do two minutes). When the person with the stop watch says 'Go' the partner with the bowl of Cheetos tries to throw the Cheetos on top of the shower cap. How to win: The person with the most Cheetos on the shower cap wins. You can award them with a prize such as a chocolate bar or some other candy, etc.
Hand out colored chalk and let the kids draw their heart's desire on the sidewalk or any other designated are. This is always a fun and energizing icebreaker game.
For this "get to know you activity" birthday party guests are given a sheet of stickers and must get rid of them by placing them secretly on other guests. If caught they must take one of the stickers off the party guest who caught them. Players can only stick one sticker at a time - the first one to get rid of all of their stickers first wins! This is a fun birthday icebreaker game! Use stickers from your birthday party theme.
Tattoos, Face Painting & Makeup
Face painting is an excellent icebreaker game that gets the kids into the party mood. Here's a a complete page with face painting tips and recipes. If you've got lots of little girls coming, you can set up a fingernail painting station with a couple of different non-toxic nail polish in bright sparkling colors, sparkling lip gloss station, and a glitter blush or eye shadow station. You can also find all sorts of theme-related temporary tattoos.
Playdough is an excellent icebreaker game at parties of all ages. You can prepare your own playdough (take a look at these cool edible and non-edible Playdough recipes), or buy a few containers of Playdough and all kinds of cookie cutters (enough for each guest to have one). Before you begin, be sure to put a protective covering on your play surface so it doesn't get damaged. Then, place a small amount of Playdough and one cookie cutter in front of each guest. This activity is sure to keep their hands and imaginations busy for a while. Later your guests can take their cookie cutter home as a reminder of your wonderful party!
BrickBreaker / IceBreaker
Here's an awesome icebreaker (brickbreaker) game. The kids get to dig through a brick made of sand and wax to expose a plastic figurine (works best with a slightly older group). You'll need a few empty milk cartons, wax, sand, mini theme-related figurines (superhero, dinosaur, etc...), and a willingness to invest a bit of time beforehand (definitely worth it!). Heat the wax in a tin bucket that's immersed in a pan with water, and stir in sand slowly - enough to coat the wax thoroughly. When the sand looks saturated, pour some into a clean empty milk carton and then insert a hard plastic figurine and cover it with more sand/wax mixture. When it's ready, give the kids their "brick" and a metal spoon to excavate their surprise (they might need some help excavating their toys but it is a very enjoyable activity. You can also do this with ice. Half fill a milk carton with colored water. Place in the freezer and when partially frozen, drop in various small toys. After this is frozen add another color of water to fill the carton. Again, let it freeze partially and add more toys. Children love to chip and melt the ice to find the hidden treasure as the colors blend creating new colors (and it's a bit easier than the sand/wax bricks...)
Spider Web Gift Game
This can be played inside or outside. To make the game easier use different coloured wool, for a harder game use the same colour. Before the guests arrive put a trail of wool for each child. At the end of each put a label on one end and a gift on the other. From the starting point, around obstacles to a finishing point where they will find the gift. You can also do this themed such as a spider's web for Halloween or Spiderman.
Bake a rectangular cake and cut it into many squares. Have each kid decorate their square with icing, sugar decorations etc. and then put all the squares back together to form a cake quilt (you'll be surprised how nice these come out). This is a wonderful and very creative icebreaker game.
Noisemaker Shakers Activity
Kid parties usually involve lots of noise, so why not keep the kids busy (and quiet) while they prepare their own noisemaker shakers. Use plain white paper plates and beans, rice, macaroni, or buttons, etc. Have the kids fold a paper plate and staple the edges halfway up. Then let them put a few scoops of beans inside and finish the stapling (you should tape the staples to avoid any poking ends). Let the kids decorate them with markers, crayons, stickers, glitter, etc. (If the kids are too young to be fooling around with staplers, make these beforehand and just let them decorate them). To make bigger shakers, don't fold the plate in half, just turn a second plate upside down and staple it to the first around the edges. Empty film cases with rice also make good noisemakers.
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