If you are looking for ideas for restaurant waiting games to play with the kids, or some ideas, perhaps, to keep them occupied while waiting for food to arrive, we asked parents to recommend their favourite game.
Here are 13 fun games to play at a restaurant, to ensure that everyone (even the folks at the next table!) enjoys their meal out!
Games to Play At a Restaurant
Waiting around can be a pain for all involved – especially if hunger or tiredness is also a factor! Distraction is a great way to keep the peace and these fun games to play at a restaurant are also great for waiting in line and generally passing the time.
Always packing a notepad and a pen in your bag is a great idea, because it means even writing practice, drawing, making lists, paper aeroplanes, etc can all be added to the entertainment options.
Most of the games below can be adapted for different age groups with a little creativity. Have fun!
An oldie, but still loved by all kids. Perfect to while away some time while waiting for the food to arrive. For younger kids, play I-Spy with colours, so they can get involved too.
The objective of the game is to answer questions without saying Yes or No.
The winner is usually the person who can’t be caught out, but for younger kids, maybe ask a set number of questions and if they don’t answer Yes/No for those questions, then they have won.
It is worth keeping a small notebook and pen in your bag, so that you can produce them when kids start to get impatient. If not, most restaurants will have a pen and some paper/disposable kids menus. The object is to guess the correct word, before you get “hung”.
- Start by thinking of a word, phrase or movie title (bearing in mind your audience).
- Write this word in dashes on the page (i.e. a dash per letter)
- The other player(s) then have to try fill in the letters by guessing a letter – if there are more than one playing, everyone gets their turn.
- If they guess a correct letter, write in on the correct space in word (if there are more than one of the letter they pick, put in all of them at same time).
- If they guess a letter not in your word, you start to draw the hang-man, and continue to draw the pieces of the picture for every incorrect guess/answer. (Note: It doesn’t have to be a Hang-Man picture – draw any picture in stages/write a word of approximately 10 letters)
- The game continues until the correct word is guessed before the hang-man picture is completed, or hang-man is completed without anyone getting the word.
#4. Pub Quiz
Mum/Dad asks the general trivia questions and the kids try to guess the answers. For younger kids, Mum/Dad could provide multiple choice options.
#5. Guess People’s Names
Try and guess the names of the other people in the restaurant, and perhaps what they do. You could even elaborate on this further and try and guess what they like, if they have pets, where they live etc.
Older children may like to create a story around this, writing out a funny tale to tell everyone by the end of dinner.
#6. Capture The Squares
- Draw a grid of dots (about 16/20) and each player takes their turn to draw a line to connect 2 dots.
- When a player draws a line and forms a square, they write their initial in that square.
- When all the grid is completed, you count up the number of squares with each initial, and the winner is the player who has the most squares.
#7. I Packed My Bags
A favourite of ours, this is a memory game and a great way to pass the time in the car or restaurant.
- First player starts with “I packed my bags for X and in it I put …” naming the object they want to include. (For example, “I packed my bags for France and in it I put a map”.)
- Next player continues: “I packed my bags for X and in it I put…”, and they must name what first person said, and then add another item to the list. (For example, “I packed my bags for France and in it I put a map and a hat”.)
- The play continues on and on, and gets harder as the list grows. A player goes out of the game if they forget one of the items said prior to their go, and the winner is the last player remaining in game.
#8. Would You Rather
A fun game, where someone asks any random questions (the more random the better, in our opinion!) like
- Would you rather be a snail or a spider?
- Would you rather have ice-cream or chocolate?
- Would you rather have 15 kids or 20 kids when you grow up?
- Would you rather eat a slug or lick a worm?
- Would you rather be an astronaut or a zoo keeper? and so on.
You can get some very funny answers, and spark some interesting conversations!
Again this assumes that you come prepared with paper/colouring books and pencils/crayons. If not, many restaurants will have paper or disposable children’s menus, and possibly crayons, or a pen.
Let the kids have free rein to create their own masterpieces, or offer a theme as some inspiration.
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#10. Tic Tac Toe/Xs and Os
You can play this with pen and paper, or alternatively make your grid with 4 straws and use coins for one player and salt/sugar sachets for the other player.
#11. Pass the Paper
Fold a piece of paper into 3 even strips. The first person draws a head on the first strip and folds the page so the others can’t see it. The page is then passed onto the next player, and they must draw the upper body (not knowing what the head looks like). They then fold so that head and body cannot be seen, and next player draws the lower body/legs. They then unfold the page and the results are usually hilarious.
A different version for older kids is to write a story. They first person starts the story with a few sentences, then folds the page, leaving their last word visible to next player. The second player then continues the story, and folds, leaving their last word for the next player. It continues on like this till last player ends the story, and unfolds and reads the story.
Okay this does assume you have come prepared with a pack of cards, but if not, check if the restaurant have a pack – you may be surprised. It also might be worth just keeping a pack in your bag for these occasions.
There’s lots you can do with a pack of cards, from fun family card games to trying your hand at building a house of cards. Older children might like to tackle some amazing card tricks or just play a peaceful games of solitaire.
#13. Alphabet Game
Pick a letter from the alphabet and each player must try and guess a word with that letter. A player is eliminated if they can’t think of a word with the chosen letter, and winner is last player remaining.
For older kids, you could make this more challenging and pick a type of thing for the letters, like town names, fruit, vegetables, animals, etc.