Before we had kids, my husband and I would eat out all the time and enjoyed our time together discovering new foods and restaurants. Now that we have two little boys, eating out isn’t so easy or enjoyable. We are now mostly limited to kid-friendly dining and even at the most kid-friendly restaurants, we are susceptible to melt downs, whining, crying, and restlessness among other things. So I made a list of restaurant table games to play while waiting for your meal, or even during meal time when the kids are done eating but the adults aren’t. These fun little games can be played using items found at your table and have really helped us keep the kids busy and calm while dining out.
1. Origami Fortune Tellers. I used to make these all the time when I was younger and they were always a camp favorite. If you don’t know how to make one of these, HERE is a step by step tutorial. All you need is the kids menu and crayons. Colors go on the outside, numbers in the center, and a fortune on each of the 4 inside flaps. Here is how to play: First your child chooses a color. If it’s red, then spell out R-E-D while moving the fortune together and apart with your fingers 3 times. Then choose a number from the center. Again, count while moving the fortune teller. Then pick another number and whichever number they choose, lift up the flat and that is their fortune. Here are some fortune ideas: “You will have good luck today” or “You will go to a party soon.” Or they could be a direction like “Give someone at the table a hug” or “Make a silly face.”
2. Sugar Packet and Penny Trick. This is a restaurant table version of the old cups and balls magic trick. Take three of the same color sugar packet and a penny or small coin. Show you child which packet the coin is under and then quickly mix them up while they are watching. See if they can follow which sugar packet the penny is under and when you are done mixing, ask them where the penny is.
3. Guess Which Hand. Hide a sugar packet/piece of a napkin/coin (or other small table object) in one of your hands. Make a fist with both hands and have your child guess which hand the object is in. My son likes to play this game on us! He (not so) discreetly hides something in one hand and then we get to guess. Of course I like to humor him and pick the wrong hand :o)
4. Straw and Sugar Packet Tic Tac Toe. Here is a fun way to play Tic Tac Toe. Ask your server for a couple extra straws and use them to make the game board. Use sets of two different color sugar packets as the markers for each team or player. Three in a row wins!
5. Straw Wrapper Worms. When you are unwrapping your straws, scrunch the paper up. Lay it on the table and drip a drop of water on it. Watch it wiggle and grow! See our Straw Wrapper Worm video:
6. I Spy. Choose an object at the table or within view of your table and using the phrase “I spy with my little eye, something ___” Provide a descriptive word about what you see and let your child guess what it is. Then let him/her pick something and you try to guess!
7. Dot Game. This is also called Capture the Squares. The object of the game is to connect dots to get as many squares as possible. Start by drawing a grid of dots and take turns connecting two dots at a time with a vertical or horizontal line. When a person is able to finish a square, put your initial in it. When all dots become squares, count the initialed boxes and whoever has the most wins!
8. ABC Spy. Using the kids menu, or in this case we used the fry basket liner, ask your child to find an “A” and so on. Each time they find the letter, they can circle it. This seems too simple, but believe me, this kept my 3-year-old occupied for a good chunk of time and he really liked searching for each letter I called out.
9. Disappearing Objects. Arrange a group of objects together in the middle of the table. Tell your child to look closely at all the objects on the table then tell him to close his eyes. Take an object away and see if your child can tell you which object is missing.
10. Table Football. There are actual rules to this game (that we don’t follow). We just like to make a paper football and enjoy flicking it around. To make the ball: Start by folding a piece of paper in half longways and fold the corner down into a triangle. Continue to fold down, making triangles until you get to the end of the paper. Tuck whatever excess paper is left on the end into the “pocket” on the top of the ball. The object of the game is the flick the football across the table and if it is hanging over the edge when it comes to a rest, you get a touchdown. We like to hold our hands up into a field goal and try and flick between the posts (aka fingers and thumbs).
I hope these games help you at your next meal out. Happy Dining!
Going on a long flight? Check out my 10 Airplane Travel Games for Kids for ideas on how to keep your little ones occupied during long flights.