For many football fans, hosting a Super Bowl Sunday party is an annual tradition, complete with friends, family and a smorgasbord of food and drinks. But, while the adults are perfectly satisfied with chomping on chicken wings and opining on those multimillion-dollar, 30-second commercial spots, children can quickly become fidgety and bored as the game's six-hour television coverage rolls on. The solution? Plan a variety of active games that even the youngest fans at the party can enjoy.
Hot Potato (aka "Hot Football")
The classic game Hot Potato—or, in this case, Hot Football—is the perfect game for children of all ages to enjoy at a Super Bowl party, says Scott Danberg, director of fitness at Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Miami, Fla. It can be played indoors or out and only requires a small football (preferably a plush one if younger children are playing).
To begin, have a group of children stand in a circle, turn on music, and have the kids start passing the ball. "The one child who is 'stuck' with the football when the music stops has to do a funny dance and have the others in the group copy it," says Danberg. "This will get kids dancing and moving while having fun."
If your house has the space indoors or outside, you can create an agility obstacle course, says Danberg. Place a variety of small, unbreakable objects that you already own in different patterns to challenge the kids' speed, coordination and balance. "Allow the children to time one another for the fastest scores and hours of fun," says Danberg, who creates workouts for both adults and children, including the Pritikin Super Bowl Fitness Challenge.
To set up a fun obstacle course, think of objects that kids can jump, hop and climb over, crawl under, or walk along. For instance, if you're indoors, you can have kids hop over or onto piles of pillows or couch cushions, set up a ring toss, or throw a bean bag into a (clean) garbage can or laundry basket. Outside, you can set up a ladder or hula hoops flat on the ground for kids to run through, or have them ride tricycles along a set route or jump rope a specific number of times.
Just remember, safety (and common sense) should always come first: Don't use objects that aren't safe for children to climb on, such as rickety folding chairs or tables that could collapse if climbed on. Also, when setting up your course, make sure you leave enough space so that participants can maneuver without risking injury to another player or bystander.
To make the challenge even more exciting, offer a prize for the kid or team who finishes first—even a small trophy or "goody bag" of football-themed trinkets and toys can ignite a little healthy competition.
If you want to keep the little ones from falling into a handheld video-game haze at the party, consider resurrecting classic games like Twister, Musical Chairs and Duck, Duck, Goose. Twister, says Danberg, is not just something baby boomers enjoy. "Remember when we were children and how much we enjoyed the flexibility challenge of this game?" he asks.
If you have limited space, Duck, Duck, Goose is another game that can help little ones burn off excess energy. "Line the kids up and have them enjoy chasing each other around in a relatively small area," Danberg says. To play, have the children sit in a circle; the child who is chosen to be "It" taps the heads of each player while saying "duck." The child then selects a "goose," who gets up and chases him. "Have plenty of water on hand," he says, "as the kids will need to quench their thirst while burning calories."
If there will be kids of all different ages at your party, set up a game of Musical Chairs. To play, arrange a circle of chairs that number one less than the number of players, have the players surround the chairs, and start playing music. When the music stops, the players must rush to find a chair to sit in, and the player left standing is out of the game. Keep removing chairs each round until there's a winner.
Another option is to have the children participate in team games. For instance, Danberg suggests starting by grouping the children into teams based upon their favorite Super Bowl team, and then have them play a variety of fun, active smaller games while the big game is being played out on TV. These games can include the ones mentioned above, such as Twister or Musical Chairs, or other classic games like charades, freeze-dance (where kids get their groove on while music is playing but must "freeze" in whatever they're position they're in when the music stops), or even Simon Says.
"Mixing teams based on fans will mix in older and younger kids for a fair advantage," Danberg says. The best way to decide which team will start the game? "The team that is currently in possession of the ball during the actual Super Bowl gets to go first," he suggests.
Megan Eutsey, child-care director at the YMCA in Greensburg, Penn., also suggests that kids participate in a team games, such as a scavenger hunt, where they have to find football-related objects throughout the house in a certain amount of time (similar to an Easter Egg hunt).
Weather permitting (or, if you have a large enough house), you can arrange a potato-sack race, an egg-on-a-spoon race, or even a snowman-building contest. The important thing, she says, is to "have options for the children. Not all children want to do the same thing."