"My sister's birthday rule for Pass The Parcel has blown up my entire childhood."

It was an unassuming Sunday night.

My family and I were sitting around having a chat after dinner, while my sister, Anita, was helping my older sister, Daniela, wrap up a Pass The Parcel for my nephew’s birthday coming up this weekend.

Quickly, what started out as a relatively small parcel soon grew to the size of a small child made of fancy paper.

Apparently you no longer use newspaper, fancy wrapping paper is now essential. I then found myself marvelling at the gifts that were being included. They were ex-pen-sive. There was Crayola and all sorts of fancy stuff. In my childhood, if you got a Redskin or one of those fake watches with the little silver ball inside, you called it a good day.

But as a kid, I remember the game, nay, the pain, of Pass The Parcel well. You sit in a circle and pray that the party gods will stop playing The Spice Girls’ Wannabe in time for you to unwrap the parcel and HOPEFULLY there will be… something inside. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn’t, that’s life.

How much effort do you need to put into a 1st Birthday Party? We discuss on our podcast for brand new parents. Post continues after.

Not getting a gift in Pass The Parcel is resilience building, it’s part of being a child. It’s when you learn that sometimes, you just don’t get everything you want in life and that’s okay. Because when you miss out on a gift at Samantha’s birthday, it makes the Pass The Parcel win at Ellen’s birthday the next weekend that much sweeter.

“Why is it so big?” I asked Daniela, gawking at the parcel and silently judging how ridic kid’s birthday parties have clearly become.

“Well, every kid needs to get a present,” she responded in a matter of fact tone.

Wait… what?


I replayed the words over in my head, but still, they didn't compute. But... what is the point of the 'game' if every child wins? I thought to myself. There is no game if everyone is a winner. There must be losers, and oh, there were plenty of losers in the fabric of my childhood.

"You can't have kids miss out, that's cruel," Daniela said as she continued to metaphorically dig a pitchfork into my dearest childhood memories.

"But, what about the music? If every kid gets a present, you have to stop the music on each kid, and that's not how it works, right?" I responded.

"Well, yeah, you have to, so no one gets upset," she concluded.



And it was in that point that my entire childhood and everything I thought I knew about life exploded.

The rules for Pass The Parcel quite clearly go:

  • Prepare your parcel. Place a gift at the centre of the parcel.
  • Begin the game.
  • Sit in a circle.
  • Select the music-keeper.
  • Stop the music.
  • Restart after each layer is unwrapped.
  • Continue playing until the last layer is unwrapped.


  • Prepare the small child sized parcel and put an exxy gift in Every. Single. Layer.
  • Begin the game sham.
  • Sit in a circle.
  • Select the adult in the room to rig the game for small innocent children.
  • Stop the music (on the appropriate child ONLY).
  • Restart after each layer is unwrapped.
  • Continue playing until every child in the room has a gift and maybe a Porsche.

What has become of us if adults are running around obsessing over whether Billy from pre-school will forever be scarred if he didn't get a gift in Pass The Parcel at your kid's birthday party?

Surely not all children in this day and age are precious little snowflakes? If so, I worry about a workplace full of adults who will expect a participation award for turning up to the office everyday.

Do you think every child should get a gift in Pass The Parcel? Tell us in the comments section below.