G was invited to a four year old's birthday party in Belfast. (Our friend's sister's daughter - got that?) For the most part it could have been a birthday party anywhere we have lived - lots of kids, lots of activity, chicken nuggets and chips (fries), and cake. Even the music droning over the sound system made it hard to tell where we were - The Cranberries, The Cars, and some random 80s tunes. Besides little children speaking with adorable thick Irish accents the one activity that reminded me were weren't 'in Kansas anymore' was the game that was played - Pass The Parcel.
Have you ever heard of this game? I hadn't. It is similar to Hot Potato (which would have been so appropriate) except it is a wrapped present that is passed around. When the music stops the child holding the parcel unwraps the first layer to find a small toy or piece of candy. The music starts again and the package continues on its way. After many rounds the final child receives a small gift when they unwrap the last layer.
We were told the version we played today was unusual for two reasons. First there were about eight rounds before the final present. Even the mom who made the game kept thinking it was the last round. We were also told that usually there is a task the child has to do. They might have to say a nursery rhyme or do a handstand. Since this was a fourth birthday they thought that might make it either too hard, too confusing, or simply take too long.
I can see all kinds of adaptations I might make to Pass the Parcel for future gatherings. Most of all it will always be a glimpse into a common party game for children in Belfast and throughout the U.K.