We just celebrated one of our teen’s 16th birthday! My, I feel old just acknowledging that. Haha While it is easier to just have an event outside of the home, it is not as budget-friendly for me. So, when my kids opt to have their birthday celebration at home, I make a point to engage the kids between the eating and chatting to maximize the fun so they’re really not missing the fancy venues, as well as it’s a great opportunity to introduce everyone to one another. I like having kids’ guests tuned-in by creating and playing games, with prizes as incentive – this is where your bargain shopping habits pays off. While it takes a little bit of planning and execution – I was literally sweating buckets from MCing the games one after the other – it beats having everyone on their cellphones. Below you will find a list of budget-friendly games we played this weekend that went pretty successfully to help you navigate through your party planning too. They are perfect for a DIY budget-friendly team building project.
Game #1 – Family Feud
This is a TV Show game that asks two teams to answer a survey prompt. One representative from each team faces off during the Elimination Round and tries to answers first to gain control of the board for his/her team. The goal is to win each set of survey questions by giving all the correct answers to the previously surveyed questions and to accumulate points higher than the opposing team to advance to the Final Round.
I used the following to make this game happen but feel free to adjust to your specifications:
- Flashcards or Poster boards cut into flashcard sizes – poster boards take more work but are thicker which allowed me to use markers to write the answers on to without the marker bleeding through
- Scissors – for the poster boards
- Marker or Pen
- Clips – to separate the survey sets
- Tape – to tape the answers to the “board”
- Expo Marker-friendly Art Easel (which I have) or Wall
- Expo Markers to show team points tally as the game progressed
- Buzzer (which I have) or someone suggested hand on a stool – which ever hand is first on the stool gets to answer, or sticky notes to stick on a designated area – whichever is on the bottom gets to answer first.
- Table or stool – for face off round
- Timer (for the final round – a cell phone timer works just fine)
- 1 bag/container – for the team leader/member selection
- Strips of Paper – to write players’ names
- Prizes (optional)
I had to buy poster boards at the Dollar Store for 2 for $1 and tape in a dispenser for $1. Total cost is $2. (Additional cost for prizes varies.)
Setting up the Two Teams
People tend to partner up with people they are more attached to or whom they think will help them win; and since we do have a mix of people at the party that participated, I randomized the team members by collecting each participant’s name in a bag and picked a name from the bag as team leader for each team. From there, the team leaders picked the rest of their team members randomly from the bag.
Finding the Survey Questions
To save time of doing the survey myself, I searched online for survey questions to ask for this game.
- Elimination Round: I used flashcard-size poster board to write the questions down along with the answers and kept it as the master card. Then I wrote each answer individually on a separate flashcard and marking the rank/popularity of each on the backside of each. I targeted a maximum point of 300 for my game – I tallied the most popular answer of each survey question until I reached 300. (The teams don’t have to earn 300 points to end the elimination round. They just have to have more points than the opposing team when the elimination round is over.)
- Final Round: You will need an extra 5 (more if you prefer) survey questions for the final round. I chose “fast track” type of questions which are shorter to maximize the player’s response time. For this one, I just have the master card to read off from and had an assistant write down the responses on the expo-friendly board to eliminate the need for extra flashcards.
I used a couple of websites but there are plenty other websites to choose from:
Note: Since we do have a range of age at the party, I try to pick questions that are friendly for all ages.
How to play the game: Step #1 Elimination Round
- Break the group into two teams – I used the randomized methods mentioned above.
- I used a stool on the front center to place the buzzer – who ever hits it first gets to answer first. (You may also use sticky notes to place on a designated spot, which ever is on the stool first, gets to answer first).
- I taped one set of flashcards onto the art easel (or wall) – hiding the answers from everyone until the answer is correctly called out.
- One representative from each team is called to the front to face-off. Whomever gets the most popular/points in a single answer to the survey question, his/her team controls the board and gets the chance to complete or pass on the whole set.
- If the controlling team decides to continue, each team member within that team is then asked the same survey question and so forth. The goal is to get all the flashcards flipped over to get the maximum points, before getting 3 strikes or wrong answers. Points are earned for each correct answer.
- If the controlling team is unsuccessful in completing the survey set, the opposing team gets one chance to steal the points earned by the previous team by correctly answering the survey. If the opposing team is unsuccessful in answering correctly, the original team gets to keep the points they earned.
- Then the next survey set begins with the next team representative to face off – remove the old set, tape the new set, ask the new survey question, flip the correctly called out answers, tally the scores.
After the elimination round, I brought out the prize selections and each of the winning team members chose a prize.
How to play the Game: Step #2 Final Round
- Whichever team has the most points gets to go on the final round.
- This time, 2 representatives from the winning team is needed.
- Just the same as in the elimination round, each of the 2 players answers separately and earns points depending on how popular his/her answer is. (I had the other go to an upstairs room so that she couldn’t hear the 1st player’s responses.)
- Technically, there’s a 20 and 25 second limit for players on this but this is a home version with kids so we went for 40 and 45 seconds instead – which was way too much time actually, 20/25 seconds was sufficient.
- When the 1st player is done, we tallied the answers. I then asked the same set of questions to the 2nd player and tallied the responses.
- I went for a maximum of 200 points for this one – which is about 5 questions. Once again, I picked questions that fit a wide age range since we are working with younger kids as well.
- If the team successfully reach 200 points they get a bonus prize – whatever that may be.
Game #2 – Pictionary (or Win, Lose, or Draw for those old enough to remember the game)
This is a game where a team representative draws a picture for his/her team not using any letters, number, or gestures; and his/her team must guess what is being drawn within a time limit.
- 2 bags – 1.) for team selection and 2.) for the cue cards
- Paper and Pen – to write 1.) each individual participant name; and 2.) for game cues to draw
- Expo Marker or Chalk – friendly Art Easel/Board.
- Expo Marker/Chalk
- Expo Markers/Chalk Eraser (or napkin)
- Timer (cell phone is perfect – there’s at least one person who has one, if not all)
- Prizes (optional)
All the materials listed, I already have. So, really the cost for me is $0. Additional cost for prizes varies.
- I randomized the team members again for this one using the same names in the bag. I called out the team leaders for each team and the team leaders randomly picked a name from the bag to create their teams. I chose to have only 2 teams.
How to play the game
- To determine which teams gets to go first, I chose whichever team the birthday celebrant was in. (Using dice is good too -higher number goes first.)
- A representative of the first team comes to the front to draw on the board. He/She picked a cue card randomly from a bag to draw for his/her team mates.
- Each card has a Category and the number of words needed to complete the cue card correctly – given as hints for the guessing team mates.
- ie. Category: Song; Words: 4
- Each cue is worth one points.
- The person drawing and the team guessing has 1 minute to earn the point by guessing it correctly.
- If the team does not guess correctly within the 1 minute time frame, the opposing team gets one chance to guess the answer. (You may time this too but we were lenient about the steal time.)
- Whichever team has the most points at the end of the game wins a prize.
#3 – The Relay Game
This took a little bit of planning for me ahead of time to cut cost because I needed some items I don’t normally use on a daily basis; but certainly, you may improvise.
- Empty Soda Bottles, at least 4 (must be a pair)
- Bags of Dry Beans, at least 2 – one bag for each pair of soda bottles (The Dollar Store sells them for $1 each.)
- Duck Tape
- Empty Cereal Boxes, at least 2
- Paint Brush (optional) – to spread the glue
- Sandwich bag, at least 2
- Ping-pong/Table Tennis Balls, at least 2
- Cups, at least 2
- Colored Tape – to mark the line to throw the ping-pong ball from
- Timer (a cell phones works just fine) – one per team
I have 4 pairs of soda bottles in total which cost me $4 of beans. I had to buy duck tape as well for $1 at the Dollar Store. So the total cost for me is $5.
Note: Ask family/friends for empty soda bottles and cereal boxes to remove the cost of buying or drinking/eating them.
Soda Bottle Shakers
- Deposit a bag of beans in a soda bottle.
- Place another empty bottle upside down on top of the bottle with the beans so that lips of each bottle is lips to lips.
- Duck tape the bottle opening together to seal it.
- Note: it’s important that it’s sealed well because this will be shaken vigorously later.
- Cereal Box Puzzles
- Cut the face and the back of a cereal box.
- Glue them together to harden the box a little.
- When dry, use a marker to draw puzzle separation to cut the cereal box into pieces. However many pieces is yours to decide.
- Store in a sandwich bag. Label it and mark how many pieces the puzzle is.
- Once again, I went for the the randomize selection mentioned on the two other games above.
- You will need at least 2 teams.
How to play
- Break the group into teams.
- Create 2 3-stations relay race
- Each station has a task to complete. It doesn’t matter which order just that it’s the same for each team. If space is limited, the station can all be done in one spot.
- Soda Bottle Shaker
- When the time starts, flip the bottle upside down so that the beans are on the top bottle.
- Empty the beans to the bottom bottle.
- Come back to the team to tag the next player.
- Cereal Box Puzzle
- While the time is still running from the 1st station, complete the puzzle. If there are choices, pick a puzzle to complete. Once complete, return to the team and tag the next person.
- Table Tennis Bounce
- While the time is still running from the 1st and 2nd station, successful land a table tennis ball in a cup by bouncing it off the floor into the cup from a predetermined distance. Keep trying until it lands and stay in. Once completed, return to the team to stop the time.
- Soda Bottle Shaker
- The team with the fastest time wins a prize.
#4 – Which way does the story go?
- A bag
- A gift to put in the bag
- Tape/Staples to seal the bag shut
- Paper and pen or it can also be typed
- A story consisting of the words left, right, and across throughout several times
- The cost will vary depending on the prize. My prize was $16. (It was the last game.)
How to Play
- Create a story to read to the participants consisting of the words “Left”, “Right”, and “Across” – can be variations of the words – i.e., rightly, righteous, lefties, etc. For me, I told about the story of my kid and wove the words in and out of it in two pages to make sure everyone got a chance to touch the bag during the game.
- Round up the participants in a circle.
- Read the story to the participants and let them pass the gift around depending on the story’s cue.
- Whoever the gift lands on at the very end of the story gets to keep it.
I actually had 5 games in total prepared for the party but time went by so fast with all the eating and chatting woven throughout the night that we didn’t get to play them all – plus there was Karaoke. haha All in all, the kids had a blast. It doesn’t hurt to have prizes to make it more fun. It was tiring for me but I’m happy in the end. I like to bargain shop and so I find gifts for less than $1 or name brands for really cheap throughout the year, preferably ones that have a long shelf life – i.e.. nail polish, candies, toys, lotions, no-show socks, etc. I love getting the kids active and tuned-in for a fraction of the cost whenever possible. Total base cost for me is $23 + the additional cost of prizes – which ranged from $0.25 to $16. I didn’t keep track of what the winners took.
So next time you are planning a playdate, get together, team-building, or party, give these DIY games a chance. They are all budget-friendly and so much fun.
Until next time.