Ensure a safe and exciting party with age-appropriate party games.

Parent Approved Party Games for Preteens

by Zora Hughes

Things can get tricky as a parent once your children outgrow single-gender get-togethers and start begging you for a co-ed party in those preteen years. You might feel the need to keep the kids from inappropriate activities and discussions. Along with having enough adults to help your supervise the party, keep them out of mischief by suggesting games for the preteens that they won't consider babyish, but that encourage them to still be kids and have fun.

1. Social and Trivia Games

Plan social trivia-style games that pit the preteen girls and guys against each other in a battle of the sexes. Divide the kids up by gender and poll each group about what they collectively like such as favorite activities, favorite bands and favorite celebrities. When the game starts, the girls have to try to guess how the boys answered their questions and vice versa for the guys. Each correct answer earns a point. You could also play traditional party games such as charades and picture-drawing guessing games, using words or phrases related to the tween age group. For example, you could have the kids try to guess words related to favorite preteen movies, popular trends and school subjects.

2. Food Competitions

Food-related contests can be a blast for preteens, who aren't too cool to get messy and have fun. You could have host a pie eating contest, giving each participant 4-inch individual pies. The first to complete their pie, crust and all, wins. You could also take the kids outside and hang doughnuts attached to string on a low tree branch in your yards. The kids have to race to eat the doughnut without using their hands. Another idea is to have a gross food blend competition, where you blend together random food items that should not go together and have the kids taste them. They must try to figure out the two ingredients that you blended together. The kid with the most correct answers wins.

3. Scavenger Hunts

Pair the preteens up for scavenger hunts. You could have the kids look for random items or items related to the type of party you are throwing such as birthday items if the party is for your child's special day. You can have the search indoors, outdoors around your property or around the neighborhood. While a neighborhood wide hunt can be fun, ensure that you let your neighbors know what's going on and give the kids strict boundaries so you and other chaperones can keep eyes on them at all times. Another idea is to take the party to the mall for a mall-themed scavenger hunt. The list can include items such as discarded receipts, napkins from a restaurant and a picture with a salesperson.

4. Outdoor Team Games

Preteens aren't too old to have a blast with outdoor games. Divide the kids up into two teams for an epic game of capture the flag, preferably at a nearby park to give the kids plenty of space. Each team must hide their flag on their territory and protect it, while also trying to sneak onto the other team's side to steal their flag. Anyone tagged on the "enemy" side is captured and put into prison. The first team to successfully steal the other teams flag wins. You could also play manhunt, in which all but one of the kids are fugitives in hiding, and the hunter has to go looking for them. Each person he finds also becomes a hunter, until only one kid is left.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.

Photo Credits

  • Amos Morgan/Photodisc/Getty Images