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Fun Kids Party Games

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Pointy Party Hat

Why:

The elastic pinches chins and necks, the pointy tops poke and they never stay on during the whole party anyway.

Better:

Inexpensive plastic headbands turned into antennae with the addition of pipe-cleaner stems and Styrofoam balls as adornments; make them ahead of time or let the kids paint or decorate the balls as a party activity. Or make paper bag hats, which can double as name tags: Just roll up the edges of white deli-size sacks into a brim and decorate ahead of time or at the party.

Cardboard Noisemaker

Why:

They get spit-soaked, and after being in circulation for a half hour or so, no one can identify his own (used) one.

Better:

Buy plastic kazoos (about $1 apiece at toy or music stores), write names on them or put on stickers to lessen germ-swapping and let everyone hum "Happy Birthday."

Perilous Pinata

Why:

Who thought of blindfolding kids and giving them sticks to swing wildly about? And the candy grab afterward requires crowd control worthy of riot police.

Better:

Do-it-yourself treasure balls. Scrunch a small toy favor inside a wad of construction paper. Tape into a ball shape, then wrap with a long crepe paper strip, taping stickers, tattoos and small toys along its length. Secure the end of the roll with a sticker. Let kids toss, roll or unravel their treasure ball (make sure they're light and won't hurt partygoers).

Sugary Party Favors

Why:

They've had their cake; they don't need candy too.

Better:

Think nonedible, interactive and instant fun: Sidewalk chalk, stickers and a sticker book, a puzzle or a jar of bubbles are all fine, sugar-free alternatives.

Check out more birthday party ideas!

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