Other balloon games

FIND THE BALLOON

Hide balloons around the house - and when guests arrive they are told 'your special balloon is...' and then describe it - 'green and long and thin...' or 'red and big and round...' - they are told that they should blow up the balloon when they find the it. When you have a house full of guests all with their balloons then it's time to start the first game - and if it's a balloon game then everyone is already prepared for it. If the game needs the balloon blown up in a particular way - for example, blown up really tight for a sit-to-pop game, then be sure to let people know that so that they have a balloon that is suitable for the next game.

If the next game requires it, or if there is some other reason why all the balloons should be the same size - maybe even the same color, then find another way of identifying each individual's 'special' balloon - perhaps numbering the balloon itself - or placing a numbered piece of paper under each balloon - or putting each balloon into a numbered envelope before it is put into its hiding place.

BALLOON PEOPLE or BALLOON FACES 5-12 years

Get some blown up balloons and some felt markers. With a reminder to press as gently as possible, get everyone to draw a face - it can be a character or a monster, a space creature or anything. Have replacement balloons handy.

If that isn't exciting enough... split up into groups of two or three and decide what would happen if your balloon characters met and had a conversation - then each group puts on a very small play - try to improvise a stage to show the plays - something along the lines of a punch-and-judy stall will work just fine.

DRAWING A STORY or BALLOON STORY 5-12 years

Everyone sits in a circle and a balloon is passed around along with a felt tip marker. Each person in turn adds just a single line anywhere on the balloon - when the marker leaves the balloon then that person's 'turn' is over. The organizer and any helpers start to make up a story based on the picture that starts to form on the balloon. The organizer can ask everyone 'what is this picture' and if it gets difficult then 'what happens next' usually gets things going again.

Spare balloons can be left around so that another story can be started at a moment's notice - if the picture doesn't seem to work or if the balloon pops. If the balloon pops in the middle of a good story then the bits of the balloon can be circulated with the balloon that replaces it and the original story continued, or the pop itself can be included. If there are only a few people in the circle then the balloon can be passed around as many times as is needed to get a story from the pictures that form on the balloon.

DECORATING BALLOONS 5-12 years

A messy game using tempera paints, scraps of colored papers - feathers ribbons - anything that can be stuck to a balloon - use floral adhesive which sticks things to balloons quite quickly - but keep an eye on who is sticking what to where - and try to keep everyone safe.

BALLOON TAG

A circle is formed leaving one person on the outside. A balloon or a ball is passed around the circle in either direction and the person on the outside has to try to 'tag' the person who has the balloon. If successful they change places.

BALLOON ROCKETS

Each player has a balloon and marks it with their name or initials - check to make sure no initials are duplicated. Everyone blows up their balloon and then with everyone gathered closely together or standing in a line - counting down from 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 - FIRE - everyone releases their balloons and the winner is the person whose balloon travels furthest. where this takes place in a hall or there are just too many people for this to work well then six to eight players can compete at one time and either the distance for each winner recorded - or the last game is played by the winners of each previous round.

Experiment with different types of balloon to see which ones fly better - there are even some long balloons actually called 'rocket balloons' if you can find them to buy.

PIÑATA

Piñata is Spanish for 'a pot of sweets'. In this game the pot is made using a balloon and some flour paste and some newspaper.

Prepare it several days before the party - blow up the balloon, cut newspaper into thin strips, prepare flour past - mix flour and water. The balloon can be coated with a thin layer of cooking oil to make its removal more easy later on. Paste strips of paper onto the balloon in layers to form a papier mâché globe - the area near the neck of the balloon can be left unpapered if you like - this will be the open top of the pot so leave it to be the size you want it to end up.

You will need to allow one layer of paper to dry before putting the next layer onto the balloon shape. When the papier mâché stage is finished the balloon can be popped - or if you have been reasonably careful and you have tied it with a half knot then it can just be let down. You now need to make some holes in the 'rim' of the pot and tie some string through in order to hang the pot.

The balloon shaped papier mâché pot is filled with sweets and then suspended in mid-air - say from the branches of a tree. If this is done before any guests arrive then it will be a surprise when the sweets are eventually released - but put a polythene bag over the top of the sweets or provide some kind of protection to prevent wasps or flies congregating inside A 'start point' is made by marking the ground or putting something on the ground - normally this will be about four or five paces from the piñata but you can make the game easier or harder by changing this distance. The first player stands at the start point and is blindfolded - and given a stick of some kind. Make absolutely sure that everyone else stands well out of the way - when the organizer calls 'start' the player moves forward to where he thinks the piñata will be and takes a hearty swipe at it with the stick - just the one swipe - or you can change this rule later if the game becomes long winded.

Everyone is a winner in this game - when the piñata is hit and the sweets tumble out all over the place they are shared out - whether that is a free-for-all or an orderly shareout is up to you. The person who manages to hit the piñata to release the sweets can either have first pick of the sweets or some other prize.

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