Party Games - Races

stopwatchTime is of the essence with these party games. Physical activity is often lacking in today's society and these games will get everyone back to the basics -- that is, being physical and competing for fun. Add in some desirable prizes and you've got a real race on your hands!

Some of these games are best for outdoors, some indoors, and some will work for both. Choose a traditional one that is challenging yet appropriate for the age of the players. Make sure you have plenty of room for movement and a safe environment. On your marks....

Three-Legged Race

This clumsy game is loads of fun. Divide kids (of similar height) into groups of two. Tie the right leg of one player to the left leg of the other with a rope or scarf. This completes a "team" and gives each team three "functional" legs. After marking a start and finish line, signal the teams to race to the finish line. The winning team deserves a prize or special privilege because this race is no easy task. Try this one with teens, they'll be laughing all the way!

Egg and Spoon Race

The Egg and Spoon Race also requires coordination and is perfect for a party with an Easter theme. There are several ways to play this game that will alter the difficulty level. You will need a spoon (regular or wooden) and an egg (raw or hard-boiled) for each participant. The rules are simple. The child or team who crosses the finish line first, without dropping the egg, wins.

If you wish to run relays, divide the children into groups of two or more. Each child will still need a spoon but only one egg per team is required. When each child reaches the next, they will need to transfer the egg from their own spoon to their team member's spoon, without dropping it. Of course, this game should be played outdoors because it can be quite messy. It's perfect for spring and allows you to enjoy mild, seasonal weather.

Potato Sack Race

Need ideas for a picnic, family reunion, or summer party? A gunny or potato sack race will have guests hopping (or falling) to the finish line. This is a popular game for kids, teenagers, and adults that's easy to plan. You will need a large burlap bag or "potato sack" for each player. They're not so easy to find nowadays but you can buy different types online at party stores. If you don't plan on using them again, donate them to a school, church, or youth group who will get plenty of use out of them. Younger kids can use old pillow cases.

Traditional potato sack races have each guest in a single sack but you can make it more competitive by pairing off into groups and sharing a single sack. Adults can each put one leg in the sack (two players to one sack) or you can use double potato sacks found online. Whoever crosses the finish line first, without falling out of their sack, wins.

Red Light, Green Light

This is a very popular game to play at school, but is great fun for birthday and holiday parties as well. Make sure you have plenty of space, outdoors is ideal for creating a "field." You will need to choose an "it" child. This child can be the birthday child or guest-of-honor. Stand the "it" child at one side of the field and the players at the other end. The players should be facing the "it" child, while the "it" child is facing outwards, with his/her back to the others. There should be plenty of room to run but not so far that you cannot hear the "it" child.

The goal is to be the first to reach the "it" child, who has the privilege of stopping and starting "traffic" by yelling "red light" or "green light." When the players hear "red light," they are to stop immediately. When they hear "green light," they can resume running towards the "it" child. Advise the kids not to run too fast or they will have difficulty stopping. Give them a couple of seconds to stop or they'll be out of the game (have them sit down.)

If you're using a large field, try giving the "it" child two large signs to hold or one, reversable sign with a green light on one side and a red light on the other. You can add a "yellow" light that will signal players to walk instead of run. There's no need for a finish line. The winner simply needs to touch the "it" child before the others.

Relay Races

Relay races are the better choice for large groups and can be altered to fit the theme of your party and age of your guests. Depending on the distance of your race, each team should have a few players who will pass on a baton (or item of your choice) to another team member who will continue the race to the next member, until the final member reaches the finish line. What's fun about this is that you can substitute many items to be the "baton" that will be passed on.