Pass the Parcel
How to play this popular British birthday party game.
Pass the Parcel is a traditional British party game that is enjoyed by kids, teens and adults. While it can be played at any type of party, it is typically a birthday party game.
The basic objective is to pass a parcel or package from person to person around a circle while music is being played. Players unwrap layers of wrapping to uncover small gifts or forfeits (funny challenges or tasks).
Younger children prefer the version with the small prizes but teens and adults tend to have more fun with the forfeits. I’ll explain the rules for both.
- Different types of paper for wrapping
- Small Prizes or strips of notepaper for forfeits
- One larger gift for the prize ex. a large candy bar, book, box of cookies
- Box for the prize (optional)
Before the Party
- Place the larger prize in a box if you wish or just wrap it up as is with paper and tape.
- Then use a different paper to wrap over the first one but this time include a small prize such as a sticker, ring or candy.
- Then wrap another layer also including a small prize.
- Repeat the wrapping and prize steps until there are enough layers for each guest to take a turn unwrapping – I suggest adding a few layers just in case.
- Be sure your music system is in working order.
- Ask an adult to man the stereo for the game as you will be needed as a helper.
- The children will form a circle on the floor, sitting close enough to easily pass the parcel to one another.
- Explain the party rules if necessary.
- Hand the parcel to the first child and begin playing the music.
- The children will pass the parcel around the circle until the music stops.
- When the music stops the player holding the parcel will carefully unwrap the first layer of paper and retrieves their prize.
- The music begins again and the parcel is passed.
- This continues until all of the layers are unwrapped and the final prize is revealed.
To play with forfeits…
Follow the preparation instructions above. Instead of wrapping small gifts in between layers of paper, hide notes with messages or forfeits inside.
Forfeits will varying depending on the ages of the players.
For example young children will perform tasks like
- recite a nursery rhyme
- hop on one leg 10 times
- make a barn animal noise
- wiggle your ears
Forfeits for older kids can be
- spell the birthday child’s name backwards
- sing a karaoke song
- perform some dance moves
- say the alphabet with a foreign accent
Pass the parcel around the circle while music is played. When the music stops, the person holding the parcel will unwrap one layer of paper, find the forfeit and perform the task on the paper.
1-2-3 Party Game Tips:
- Wrap the parcel in used paper, newspaper or brown paper bags to minimize waste. Then for the last layer use decorative paper to make it look nice.
- Although it is not exactly fair…the adult in charge of the music should be mindful of who has received prizes. And if you want the birthday child to receive the final prize let the music helper know that as well.
- The last prize may be a bag of goodies of goodies or party favors for all of the kids to enjoy.
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