It's your son's 9th birthday, and he's opted to have a birthday party at home. Great you think, less stress on the purse. Then you discover he's invited half his class (15 boys) and his two sisters are insisting that they have to have a friend each to come as well: "we can not be the only 2 girls with all those boys." I saw their point.
Greg (that's my son) was campaigning for a football party. "How!" I fought "We live in a flat." I had a nightmare vision of 16 boys playing football in our living room and the girls bouncing up and down on the sofa like demented cheer leaders. "Well you promised me the best games ever" grunted Greg, with his bottom lip grazing the carpet. I saw his point.
Boys birthday party ideas do not flow from my brain easily. However, the idea of an indoor football match with high octane 9 year olds spurred the little gray cells.
Fun birthday party games loosely themed around football, where to begin? My moment of inspiration hit me like a bolt of lightning: draw on traditional games and give them a football twist.
Here's my great party games menu a la football. I should say that all the technical knowledge required was provided by Greg!
Team Transfer: based on the game of All Change each child was given the name of a footballer.
Warm Ups : this is Ladders, but instead of using numbers I keep each child a playing position: center forward, goal keeper, left back and so on
Football Challenges : all you need are balloons that look like footballs. Pop a football related challenge inside each balloon before inflating (show us how you've taken a penalty, dribble – you get the gist), start football themed music and away you go. Whoever has the balloon when the music stops has to burst it and carry out the challenge.
Football Charades : using a mix of teams and footballers' names. No further explanation needed.
At half time we had a football themed tea: cheese footballs, cheese string goal nets, crisps, red footballs (tomatoes), green footballs (melon balls), orange slices and the piece de la resistance the football pitch cake. At the beginning of the second half, we played more mellow games to ensure what had gone down did not reappear!
Name that Team: You supply the names of football players, they guess the team. Do not be afraid to go for the obscure (advised Greg). And he was right they're junior obsessives.
Spot the Ball : do you remember Hunt the Thimble?
The Magic Touch : this is very simple magic game I adapted to football by using five small balls rather than coins (probably the phrase 'a magic touch' is one often used in the game!)
Then we went for the final play off (another term I've Learnt) with a:
Treasure Hunt : I made up 6 clues about things to do with football. This took time. I then placed the football items (boot, whistle, plastic footballer, red card, etc.) in all the rooms except my bedroom, which was absolutely out of bounds. The kids worked in threes; seven trios deep in whispered discussions, before racing off to find the objects and then puzzle out an anagram that told them where the treasure was hidden. It was in the bgktia (sorry kitbag) which I had filled with football booty and put under the kitchen table.
"Well" I asked Greg when we'd said goodbye to the last little would be Rooney, "Was that OK?"
"Yep" he replied "those were the best party games ever, but forget using the whistle so often next time. Good refs do not need to." Taking his criticism on the chin, I remained chilled until my eldest daughter (aged 13) chimed in with "For my birthday I'd like a party with fun birthday party games like this, but on the X Factor not football." Simon Cowell give me strength.