Does the Birthday Boy or Girl Win the Main Prize of Pass the Parcel?

Is there an unspoken rule about who wins the main prize?

Does the Birthday Boy or Girl Win the Main Prize of Pass the Parcel?

Is there an unspoken rule about who wins the main prize?

Pass the Parcel is one of those classic party games that you either embrace or steer clear. Many variations of the game have evolved over the generations. With so many alternatives on how to play the game, it can easily be destined for the too-hard basket. If you’ll be playing this circle game at your next birthday party, you may be thinking this question – “Does the birthday child get the main prize at the end?”

You could be swaying towards the Yes answer. However, let’s reflect on the general, word-on-the-street thoughts that most parents go along with… which is No. The birthday boy or girl shouldn’t win the main pass the parcel prize. The main reason is because parents feel that the birthday person gets enough presents.

As a Mum of two boys, I remember the surprise I felt when I heard that the birthday boy at a 5 year old party was getting the last prize. I was taken aback by this thought, as it was so different to how I play the game with my boys. What was the real reason why the birthday boy needed to get the last prize? From a kids’ perspective, the game loses its gameness appeal – surprise, turn taking and fun – when they know the birthday boy wins the prize. The birthday boy has already received many pressies from the party guests. As an adult, how would you feel if you knew the birthday person would need to win the game?

Having a party guest as winner is a far more popular and fairer option amongst party-hosting parents.

Then who should win the main prize? Like the game itself, there are a lot of alternatives to this pinnacle position in the game. It’s really up to what makes you feel the most comfortable. Consider the ages of your party kids, the personality of your little one and how many kids are at the party. Here are some ideas from parents about how the main prize of pass the parcel could work:

  • Main prize winner is random

To truly-ruly play pass the parcel by the rules means the music controller would have absolutely no idea which child receives the parcel when the music stops. The winner is by pot luck. During the game, one child may unwrap three prizes whilst other children may miss out altogether.

  • Main prize is a shared prize

Thinking differently about the main prize is another option. Some parents have suggested that the main prize isn’t for a solo winner. Instead, it’s a group win. For example, the main prize could be a block of chocolate they can eat and share at the party. Or it could even be a clue for the party game to play.

  • Main prize winner is based on preferred social behaviours

The quietest/ shy person or the most well behaved person wins the prize. This is like using the game as a reward system for encouraging preferred social behaviours or recognising the more reserved children. I can see why parents would like this approach, but I’m not sure that it’s really beneficial. As a teacher, I’ve learned that sometimes quieter children don’t want the attention of getting the main prize. And giving the main prize to the “most well behaved” is about rewarding expected social group dynamics.

Whichever approach you follow, choose the one that works for you, your child and their friends. And most of all, enjoy playing one of the most classic party games – pass the parcel!

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