Here are some bowling party games for parties held either at a bowling alley or at home.
For bowling themed ideas for invitations, food & drink, and party decorations, check out my separate page of Bowling Party Ideas.
This list of bowling party games can be used for parties at home or at a bowling alley.
This is perfect for kid’s birthday parties. After a few frames of regular bowling, introduce different handicaps such as:
You could prepare the handicaps for these bowling party games in advance by writing them on bits of paper and having each kid draw one out of a hat.
Kid’s can get a bit restless waiting for their turn to bowl. So while someone else is bowling, use the time it takes for the bowl to travel down the lane to complete different challenges. As soon as each person has let go of the ball, the other kid’s must perform a challenge but stop when the ball hits the pins. Some examples are:
You could also provide small prizes or party favors for the winning person in each round.
If you’ve added a theme to your bowling party, such as Harry Potter Bowling or Star Wars Bowling (see the Theme section of the Bowling Party Ideas page for more info), you can extend this idea to your bowling party games.
Make up a master score card menu in advance with each score corresponding to a different baddie. For example, you might need three strikes to kill Lord Voldermort (Harry Potter) or Darth Vadar (Star Wars). Or just one strike to kill a Dementor (Harry Potter) or a Clone Trooper (Star Wars).
You can play this like Bingo so that each person has to ‘kill off’ at least one of each different type of baddie by achieving that score. The first person to kill the highest scoring baddie can win a prize.
This is good for older kids, teens, or adults. Simply assign odd numbers as ‘Truth’ and even numbers as ‘Dare’ then let each person’s score determine which they have to do. A strike could make the person exempt from either.
For adult bowling party games, you can mix it up with some bingo bowling. Prepare some pieces of paper arranged into grids ahead of the party and write or print different results into each box of the grid. For example strike, spare, gutter ball, two consecutive strikes, or individual scores such as 2 or 8. These will act as the bingo cards.
Split everyone into teams and have them cross off each result on the bingo card as they score it. The winner is not the team who bowls the highest score, but the one who completes their bingo card first.
Arrange some certificates / trophy’s to give out at the end so that everyone is rewarded for something—no matter whether it’s a good or bad thing. For example:
You can pick up some cheap plastic trophies, award ribbons / medals and temporary tattoos for this.
This list of bowling party games is really only suitable for parties at home.
Mix things up by playing a few sets of makeshift bowling where you swap the traditional bowling pins for unusual items. Some examples are:
You can also introduce some different sized balls to bowl with such as tennis balls, beach balls, golf balls etc.
These giant inflatable bowling sets are great to use for bowling party games at home and a particularly useful for younger children.
If you've applied a theme, such as Harry Potter or Star Wars, you can decorate the bowling pins by turning them into characters relevant to your theme. A simple way to do this is just to cut out pictures from the web and stick a different characters face onto the top of each pin.
For more information on this and to see some photos examples, see the Theme section of the Bowling Party Ideas page.
Alternatively, there are lots of themed bowling sets for kids that you can buy for between $10 - $20 such as Disney Princess (below left), Spiderman, Toy Story, Hello Kitty, Spongebob Squarepants, Monsters (below center) and Farm Friends (below right).
If you have a Nintendo Wii there are quite a few different bowling games available—so try some virtual bowling.
You don't just have to bowl with balls! Try knocking down the pins using a Supersoaker water gun.
Once you've knocked down all the real pins, have a go at a bowling pin shaped piñata.
For more ideas on invitations, food & drink, and party decorations to go with these bowling party games, check out my separate page of Bowling Party Ideas.
Matt James is a professional party planner and owner of event agency DNA Productions, which has produced events for Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kevin Spacey, Stella McCartney, David LaChapelle, John Waters, and Elvis Costello & Diana Krall. Since 2004, DNA has won 24 industry awards for excellence including Production Company of the Year.
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