14 Fun Indoor Activities for Your Kid’s Next Birthday Party

Because the key to throwing an outstanding birthday party lies in the games.

No parent wants their kid’s birthday party to be a dud. And while the debate rages on about how much parents should spend on gifts, supplies, and whatnot, one thing remains clear: the key to throwing a fun party lies in the activities. If kids are laughing, engaged, and entertained, everybody’s going home happy. Fun games equals fun party, simple as that.

Indoor birthdays pose a unique challenge in that the activity needs to be contained. Entertaining kids indoors is never as easy as letting them run around in the yard. As is true indoors or out, it is better to be over prepared. So, in the spirit of arming you with some new tricks to entertain party-ready, sugared-up kids, here are seven indoor go-to games and activities to keep kids partying all year long.

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Indoor Activity #1: Play Indoor Hopscotch

Prep Time: 20-30 minutes

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Entertainment Time: 30-60 minutes

What You’ll Need:

  • Several empty pizza boxes or large cardboard cut into at least 9 12” x 12” squares and one semicircle (for the top of the hopscotch board) OR several rolls of removable (painter’s) tape
  • Acrylic craft paints, colorful tape, or construction paper
  • Glue sticks
  • Puffy paints
  • A few bean bags.

One of the great things about bringing this classic playground game indoors is that prepping it can be part of the fun. Kids can decorate squares from empty pizza boxes (or sheets of cardboard) with hopscotch numbers using paints (or colorful craft tape if mess is an issue). If you’re worried about slipping and sliding on the rug, a few lines of puffy paint applied to the bottom of the squares should do the trick. Once you’ve prepped your squares, arrange them on the floor, and get hopping. Quick Version: Just tape off nine rectangles using tape on the floor to outline each square and use tape to write out the numbers on each “square” as well.

Indoor Activity #2: Play Balloon Tennis

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Entertainment Time: 10-15 minutes

What You’ll Need:

  • Balloons
  • Paper plates
  • Plastic spoons or popsicle sticks
  • Painter’s tape

A great way for a birthday party’s worth of kids to unleash their inner Federer without wrecking your living room is with a nice and easy game of balloon tennis. This game requires minimal prep, and is sure to bring on a lot of giggles. Kids can hit their tennis “balloons” over a strip of tape placed in the middle of the room (the “net”), or play a game of “who can keep their balloon in the air the longest” or “how high can you toss your balloon”. Just be sure to have lots of balloons on hand, as these ‘tennis balls’ tend to break easily.

Indoor Activity #3: Play “Thief”

Prep Time: 0-5 minutes

Hours of Entertainment: 15-20 minutes

What You’ll Need:

  • Assorted candies
  • Blindfold
  • Newspaper or magazine
  • Coins
  • Small toys

The game of “Thief” is a great way to get a rowdy group of kids to calm down because it requires silence from all of the players except one. It’s a thrilling, Winner Takes All game, with a heap of candy as the big prize. One player gets assigned to be blindfolded, and the other players take turns trying to steal their “treasure” (i.e. pile of candy) without getting tagged and called a “thief!” by the blindfolded player. And, like most things in life, the person with the most candy at the end wins.

Indoor Activity #4: Compete in the Candy Olympics

Prep Time: 10 mints

Hours of Engertainment: 20-40 minutes

What You’ll Need:

  • Marshmallows
  • Big Bowl
  • Licorice
  • Smarties
  • Chopsticks

The Candy Olympics do not require real athleticism, but they do pack entertainment value. Set up three candy-themed stations so kids can bob for marshmallows, do a relay race with a licorice baton, and do a Smarties Chopstick Challenge (where players have to see how many Smarties they can place into a bucket across the room using only chopsticks). Give each group of kids a set amount of time at each station and then have them switch. If you want to up the theme factor, you can give out candy necklace medals as awards.

Indoor Activity #5: DIY Indoor Photo Booth

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Entertainment Time: 30-60 minutes

What You Need:

  • Wrapping paper or fabric to create your backdrop
  • Mac Photo Booth Software (or similar)
  • Props or dress up clothes
  • A bench (so everyone is aligned in the photo)

If there’s anything that keeps kids entertained for basically, eternity, it’s taking pictures of themselves and their friends. A DIY photo booth where kids can snap away to their hearts desire is a great way to create instant memories from a kid’s point of view (as you’ll probably have plenty of your own photos from the party, too). Kids can play with props, dress up, make black and white photo strips, or just plain mug at the camera for an instant party hit.

Indoor Activity #6: Musical Hoops

Prep time: 0-5 minutes

Entertainment time: 10-15 minutes

What you’ll need:

  • Multiple hula hoops

A spin on the ol’ Musical Chairs, Musical Hoops let’s kids dance until there’s one last child standing, without removing all the available seating from your living room. Place one hoop per child on the floor and hit play on their favorite music as they march around. When the music stops, they jump into a hoop. Each round, a hoop gets removed (but not a child). At the end, the whole group has to squish into the last remaining hoop by any means necessary – a toe, a foot, a hand. Player is “safe” as long as a body part is inside the hoop.

Indoor Activity #7: The Puzzle Hunt

Prep time: 0-5 minutes

Entertainment time: 10-15 minutes

What you’ll need:

  • Floor puzzles (one or more sets, depending on number of kids)

A Puzzle Hunt is like a treasure hunt except it is indoors, and kids are hunting for pieces of oversized puzzle pieces (the kind meant to be done on a floor versus a table) that have been hidden in a designated room (or rooms) in order to assemble it so they can win a prize. This is an excellent way to segue to cake time, because you can make the “prize” be “time for cake.” If you have a larger group, you can hide several puzzle sets (which makes it more complicated, too); and assign teams to finding the pieces to hunting for the pieces of their assigned puzzle. The first group to assemble their puzzle pieces could be the first group to get cake (after the birthday boy or girl, of course).

Indoor Activity #8:  ‘What’s In The Bowl’

Prep Time: 1 minute
Entertainment Time: 10-20 minutes
What You Need:

  • A big mixing bowl.
  • A bag (or two) of uncooked rice.
  • A blindfold.
  • A collection of small objects from around the house: coins, pieces of crayon, marbles, goldfish crackers, a pen lid, the cap to the toothpaste, whatever you got. Just remember to keep an eye on all of these things when you’re done, as some may still be a safety hazard for kids.
  • Prizes for the winners.
  • A timer (optional).

‘What’s In The Bowl?’ is a kid’s party version of the classic baby shower game in which blindfolded guests fish for tiny safety pins in a bowl full of uncooked rice. Obviously, since you don’t want kids collecting dangerous needles and/or drinking Mimosas before noon, the bowl is filled with other small (but safe) objects. The concept, however, remains the same. Each kid takes a turn and the goal is to either: a) fish as many items as possible out of the bowl in the shortest amount of time, or b) guess what each item is entirely by touch. In both cases, you keep score and award the winner a prize.

Indoor Activity #9: Slime Time

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Entertainment Time: 30-60 minutes
What You’ll Need:

  • 3-4 cups foam shaving cream.
  • 1 tablespoon of saline solution.
  • A sprinkle of baking soda.
  • 1/2 cup of Elmer’s glue.
  • Small amount of baby oil.
  • 3-4 drops of food coloring.

Making slime is all the rage with kids these days so this one is certain to be an instant hit ⏤ just remember to ask each kid/parent to bring a change of clothes and a towel. That said, ‘Fluffy slime’ is best for an indoor affair as it’s not nearly as messy as other varieties (such as classic Nickelodeon slime), and it’s easier to manipulate and customize with glitter, beads, etc. To make it, simply mix the ingredients listed above in a bowl. Or, if you want to have a few slime stations set up for the kids, here two additional recipes.

Indoor Activity #10: Treasure Hunt

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Hours of Entertainment: About 30 minutes
What You’ll Need:

  • A ‘treasure chest’ filled with gold chocolate doubloons and other candy or prizes. A decorated cigar or shoe box works well.
  • A series of clues, which can be either actual objects that point to another part of the house or a piece of paper with a riddle, question, or other written message. They should be understandable to a child and small enough to be hidden.
  • Props like pirate hats, eye patches, and a treasure map.

What kid doesn’t enjoy dressing up like a pirate and scavenging the house in search of hidden treasure? Treasure Hunt can either be a group effort, in which all the kids work together to answer a series of clues to find the hidden treasure chest, or a competitive scavenger hunt that pits two teams against one another. Either way, work backward  to hide your clues around the house before the party begins and start the game with an elaborate story that both hypes up what’s in the treasure chest and gets them excited about the impending adventure. You can also call it Detective Game and dole out little Sherlock Holmes hats instead.

Indoor Activity #11: Wax Paper Figure Skating

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Entertainment Time: 30-60 minutes
What You Need:

  • A roll of wax paper and tape (preferably duct) or rubber bands. If you don’t have any wax paper, thick socks, empty Kleenex boxes, old magazine pages, or even paper plates can make good ‘figure skates.’
  • A slick(ish) floor.
  • Music.
  • Paper and a pen to make score placards. Similarly, you can also make ‘medals’ out of construction paper if you want to conduct a full ceremony at the end.
  • Optional: Hats, props, and accessories if you want to go full Johnny Weir with the outfits.

Why rent out the local ice skating rink for your party when you can turn the kitchen into one for free? Wax paper figure skating is a fun way for toddler or kids too small to appreciate the ice to pretend skate, dance, and have a ton of laughs. Sheets of wax paper wrapped (and taped) around each child’s feet combined with a smooth slick floor will allow them to ‘skate’ around for hours, although having each perform a full skating routine to music and then awarding the winners ‘medals’ is a great way to take it up a notch.

Indoor Activity #12: Paper Bag Puppets

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Entertainment Time: 30 minutes
What You’ll Need:

  • Paper lunch bags and construction paper.
  • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils.
  • Googly eyes, yarn, piper cleaners, pom poms or cotton balls.
  • Glue, tape, and scissors.

The best part of paper bag puppets is that it’s a two-part activity, and one that can be split up with a cake break. First, using the provided arts-and-crafts supplies (and/or puppet-making kit), the kids can draw, cut, color, and glue stuff to their bags. Provide templates (or at least pictures) of popular characters for the kids who’d rather make Cookie Monster than a creature of their own imagination. After the puppets are finished, have a makeshift stage set up in another room and let the experimental puppet theater begin.

Indoor Activity #13: Ping Pong Toss

Prep Time:
Entertainment Time: 30 minutes
What You’ll Need:

  • Solo cups
  • Ping pong balls
  • Prizes. For the full carnival effect, roll with stuffed animals.

Anybody who’s ever played beer pong knows the deal here (so, everybody), except in this county fair version of the game each cup is worth a certain point value. After labeling the inside of each cup with a random number from 1-5, set up 15 Solo cups on the floor in a 5-row pyramid (5-4-3-2-1). Put a piece of tape on the floor several feet away, behind which the shooter should stand, and have each kid throw five ping pong balls. Add up and record the total points for balls landing in the cups before moving on to the next child. After a set number of rounds, add up the total scores and declare a winner. Final thought: if you have the time, glue all the cups to a giant piece of cardboard before the party ⏤ that way it’s ready to go and cups won’t accidentally get knocked over.

Indoor Activity #14:‘Stomp the Balloons’

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Entertainment Time: 10-15 minutes, depending on how many balloons you blow up ahead of time.
What You’ll Need:

  • Balloons.
  • String and scissors.

A great game for exhausting as well as entertaining kids, balloon stomp is a last-person-standing game in which players run around the room with balloons tied to their legs trying to pop everybody else’s balloons. The goal is to be the only player with an un-popped balloon still attached by the end of the game, although you can also divide party-goers into multiple teams and pit them against one another. Either way, before the party, blow up a ton of balloons and attach a 12-16-inch string to each. The more you inflate, the more rounds of the game you can play. To start, simply tie one or two balloons to each child’s ankle (with fewer kids, you can add more balloons to prolong the action), explain the rules, and yell “stomp away!”.

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