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15th Jun 2014 Published by Catherine Haines

Pass the Parcel



Everything you need to know about pass the parcel;  the rules, alternatives, tips and even the history are here for you.

A Brief History

Pass the parcel is believed to originate from Medieval times.  It was played at the feast table in between courses and is thought to have been played with pieces of cloth tied with ribbon, the layers concealing prizes or forfeits.

Prizes included a sweet or jewelry and forfeits ranged from juggling to reciting a poem.

How to Play

The idea of pass the parcel is to wrap a present under many layers of paper.  The children playing pass the parcel round to the music until it stops.

When the music stops the child holding the parcel removes a layer.  They then pass the parcel again to the music.

The game continues until the last child unwraps the prize.



  1. Under each layer put a sweet or lolly so that each player gets a little prize.
  2. Older children may prefer a forfeit instead of or as well as a prize.
  3. Very young children may prefer pass the teddy, give them a small prize if they are left holding the teddy when the music stops.


  • Wrap the main prize in different colour paper.
  • Wrap enough layers so everyone gets a turn at unwrapping.
  • Small children may need encouragement to pass the parcel on to the next person.
  • It’s easier to use a music system with a remote control.
  • Get the music ready before the party.
  • Young children may not understand about losing so it’s nice if they all get a treat.
  • Either don’t look at all for the final layer so it’s totally random or choose the person least likely to win any other games.


Ideas for Forfeits

  • Pretend to be a monkey for twenty seconds.
  • Pat your head and rub your tummy.
  • Sing Happy Birthday while squeezing your nose.
  • Sing your favourite nursery rhyme.
  • Count backwards from 10.
  • Tell a joke
  • Show your best dance move.
  • Pretend to be an animal while everyone guesses what you are.

Which ever way you play we hope you have a great party.


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