How to Play the Hot Potato Game

By Carol Finch
Sack, potatos, a wood surface
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Like many party games involving a circle, Hot Potato can calm down a group of enthusiastic kids, letting them have fun while keeping them all in one place. Players pass an item around the group while music plays, like Pass the Parcel. However, Hot Potato has a twist that keeps play moving pretty quickly -- nobody wants to be left holding the "potato" when the music stops.

Basic Gameplay Rules

Organize your players into a circle. Choose an item to be the "potato," such as a bean bag, ball or toy. If you're throwing a themed party, it's fun to use a related item. For example, if you're having a fairy-themed party, pass round a wand or, if you have a soccer theme, pass round a small ball. Tell players to imagine that the item is a potato that's too hot to hold. Start the music and give the "potato" to any player. He then passes it to the player next to him, continuing around the circle until the music stops, at which point the player holding the "potato" is out. Play resumes once you restart the music, and the winner is the last player left.

Hot Potato Variations

If you don't have music, have an adult or older child stand facing away from the circle to call out "hot potato" to stop gameplay. If players get a little boisterous and start messing with the "potato," add a rule that any player who drops it is out. Older kids may enjoy the game more if you introduce a bit of strategy. The first child calls out the name of any player in the circle and has to pass or throw the potato to that player who then chooses another player to pass or throw to.