10 Entertaining Waiting Games to Play with your Kids of All Ages That Require Zero Materials!

This past summer, I went to lunch with Levi, my friend and her daughter. We were waiting for our food and my friend was like – let’s play some restaurant waiting games!! And I was like – GENIUS!!!!

In the past, I would bring things to occupy my kids, which is annoying because then you have to *remember* to bring things!! But these restaurant waiting games were WAY better because not only were no materials required, but they were fun for everyone at the table AND we were all using our brains! Yassss!

While winter and Covid have kept my family from eating at restaurants over the past few months, after that lunch in the summer, whenever we are ANYWHERE where we are waiting for something {I’m talking in the morning Starbucks line, in the car, at the doctor’s office, for the bus, etc!}, playing waiting games has become our #1 way to pass the time! These are great games to have in your pocket if you’re traveling on a plane as well. They can be used basically anywhere!

My friend Jeri might have introduced me to my first few but since then I’ve come up with a ton of new ones, too! And I promise you that they are all SO MUCH FUN, that if you were playing them at a restaurant, you might even be disappointed when the food finally shows up.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you! HA! Okay, let’s jump to it!

1. What’s Missing?

This is an idea game for a restaurant or where you have a table in front of you. Everyone studies what’s on the table {feel free to take some stuff from your purse out to make the game more challenging for older kids}, everyone closes their eyes, one person takes away one thing, puts it behind his/her back, and then each person gets one guess regarding what’s missing! Whoever wins get’s to hide something from the table the next round.

2. Verbal Simon Says

This is a fun take on Simon Says when you don’t have room to move around and spread out. Instead of Simon making the others in the game perform body gestures and movements, Simon will ask them to verbally say things! For example, Simon could say “Simon says to say I love you 3 times” And so on! If Simon doesn’t say to say something and one of the players says it, they’re out! Of course, if you are somewhere with room to play the original version of Simon Says, by all means, that’s an awesome waiting game as well!

3. Pick 3

One person asks another person to pick 3 of something!!! Pick 3….. modes of transportation, days of the week, holidays, etc. For younger kids, you can ask them simpler or more basic things like pick 3 colors or pick 3 sports and for older kids, you can make it more challenging, like pick 3 sports teams! Shout-out to my friend Leah for telling me about this game. It can go on forever and it’s SO FUN!

4. Mouth It

My kids LOVE this one and so do I {mainly because I’m really good at it haha} but basically, everyone goes around and mouths a 3-word sentence, one at a time. After one person mouths, everyone gets one guess to tell what they think that person said. It’s fun!! Pro-tip: really stress to the kids not to go over the 3-word limit or the game will get way too difficult!!! {example sentences: Halloween is scary; I love you; Brody is sweet, etc}

5. I Spy

This game is a classic and probably the reason for it always being a huge hit with the kids. One person says “I spy with my little eye, something _{insert color here}_” All the other people get a chance to guess, given the color clue and what’s around you.

6. ABC Words

The first player starts playing the game by saying a word that begins with A. The second person has to say a words that begins with B. And so on until you get to Z!! To make it challenging, if someone can’t think of a word in the letter they’re on, the game starts over.

7. Tic-Tac-Toe with Straws and Sugar Packets

This is so smart and perfect for a restaurant!! You might have to ask for a few extra straws and a few extra sugar packets but you play tic-tac-toe making a game board out of the straws, and then using the sugar packets as X’s and O’s. You can play 1 on 1 or one side of the table against the other side of the table!

8. Call it out!

One person at the table calls out a theme or category – like local restaurants or calendar months or things that are technology – and then each person goes around and says one thing that fits in the theme until you’re ALL out of answers!!

9. Rock, Paper, Scissors

This is your classic game of rock, paper, scissors! One person calls out “Rock, paper, scissors, SHOOT!” and then two other people give the corresponding hand gestures that each one makes. “Rock” is a fist, “scissors” is when you extend the middle and index fingers, and “paper” is shown by holding the hand out flat. If players throw out the same gesture, the game goes on. If not, rock crushes scissors, scissors cuts paper, and paper covers rock. You can play this one over and over until you’re bored =)

10. Would You Rather?!

One person thinks of a would you rather question. The other players {one at a time, of course!} have to go around and say their answer. Encourage being appropriately silly!

The best part of all these?! If by chance you do get bored of one of the games and whatever you’re waiting for is taking foreverrrr {we’ve all been there, ugh!!!}, simply play a different game!! There are so many to choose from and they are all crazy entertaining for all age levels!

Please pass this post onto any mom friends who might appreciate it {umm, I personally believe ALL moms would appreciate it, but that’s just my opinion lol!!}.

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