Tape Ball / Candy Ball – A Hilariously Simple Game For Groups

Looking for fun activities for a party?  Need to kill some time or stall the kids?  Looking for some fun memories to pad your holidays?  Then I might have just the thing for you.

I hadn’t heard of Tape Ball (or Candy Ball or even Saran Wrap Ball) before a few months ago, but I wanted a simple, fun and cheap activity to add to our Teen Halloween Party last month.  And it turned out to be the perfect party experience!  None of the kids had ever played the game and they weren’t sure what to think of it at first.  But as soon as the action started, they were hooked!  By the end, they were yelling and cheering and having a blast.  It was a big hit and a lot of fun!

Apparently some people play this game as part of a Christmas tradition, but I think being mostly made of candy, it’s perfect for Halloween too.

Supplies you will need

Plastic Wrap
Clear Packing Tape
Bits of wrapping paper or other scraps paper
Torn up grocery bags work too
Other fun prizes
A pair of dice
A pan to roll the dice into

Playing The Game

Have your group sit in a circle on the floor. There’s no minimum or maximum number of people, but I think more than a classroom sized group might be too big.

Figure out who in your group is going first.  Hand them the ball.

Decide if you’re going to go clockwise or counter clockwise, and then hand a pair of dice to the appropriate person sitting next to the person who has the ball.

At “Ready Set Go,” the person with the ball begins trying to find an end of tape so they can begin unwrapping as many layers of the ball as they can, as quickly as they can. (This is not as easy as it sounds.)  Anything that they manage to unwrap, they get to keep!

At the same time, the person with the dice rolls them again and again until they get doubles. Once the second person rolls doubles, the ball immediately passes to them to unwrap, and the dice pass on to the next person in the circle to roll.

The cycle repeats all around the circle, over and over, until the entire ball is unwrapped.

The Ball

Of course, first you have to make your ball.  (This does take time.)

The basic idea is that you use plastic wrap, packing tape, wrapping paper scraps, etc. and you literally wrap and tape candy and other prizes – layer by layer  – into a ball.

Start out with something in the center, like a jingle bell or a rattle or something else noisy.  The noise helps with the game.  Or, do like one family did, and wrap a set of chattering teeth into the middle.  The teeth were all wound up ready to go and scared the bejeezers out of the person who did the last unwrap.

Once you have your nucleus wrapped, add to it layer by layer with candy, socks and underwear, toys, money, weird stuff – whatever suits your fancy and that you think will be fun and appropriate for your players.  Make sure every layer has something wrapped into it.  You want each layer of tape or plastic wrap to b around 18 inches or so long.  You also want your ball to be a pretty good size, and to tape it pretty well (without being completely evil) or the game will be over too quickly.   Unless you plan to use this with little kids, then you’re going to want to ease up on the taping or it might be too hard and frustrating.

I would have liked to have made ours the size of a basket ball, which I read many others have done, but I ran out of tape and plastic wrap.  So instead it was about the size of a small kick ball.  But it was a lot of fun and with 16 or so kids, it took 15-20 minutes to play.

What to put inside?

I used Halloween candy, yo-yos, playing cards, pennies, Christmas socks, dollar store tie, a Christmas music box button from a greeting card (it kept going off inside the ball, so awesome!), jingle bells, bottle caps, milk rings and more in our tape ball.  And when I ran out of plastic wrap, I grabbed grocery bags and whatever else I could find.  It should be pretty hefty when you’re done.

Other tips?  You could also add underwear, creepy things like a toy spider, “chance” cards that make a player perform a task when they unwrap them, extra dice for extra possible twists to the game, money, gift cards, fruit cake, white elephant gifts – you name it! Get creative, because this is a game that let’s you do just that!

Tape Ball Candy Ball Saran Wrap Ball - Fun Game Instructions - by Aberrant Crochet

This is just the beginning!

I wish that I could show you what our Halloween ball looked like, but I didn’t have time before the kids started the game and none of my photos from the game turned out either!

However, here’s a quick shot I took of the making another ball while it was still small. It should give you a good idea of how the ball looks and how to start with making it.

So there you go.  A fun, wholesome activity everyone in the family can enjoy.  Even Grandpa.

So what about you?  Have you ever played Tape Ball or Candy Ball?  How did you play it?  Any tips?  Because I totally want to take this to another level the next time we do this.  Share your stories and tips below!

UPDATE 2015: Aside from comments below, people have reached out on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere to share with me their tape ball game stories!  It’s been a heck of a lot of fun to be able to be a vicarious part of their fun. Families have added money, small tech items, lottery tickets, mementos, video games and more to make their cling wrap balls even more unique.  Crazy love it! Here’s a video from LC about her hit ball made from wrapping paper and foil. Check it out!

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Filed under 'Tis the Season, Halloween, NaBloPoMo

23 responses to “Tape Ball / Candy Ball – A Hilariously Simple Game For Groups

  1. Kathy

    Imagine grandpa with arthritic fingers trying to unwrap tape and plastic. It’s just evil and wrong. Btw on that long reply (in the column about education) I forgot to subscribe so you better answer that one via Facebook.

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  3. I am going to try to make one of these, but an adult version. Going to put plastic shot cups in it (along with other fun random things from dollar store and candy) so when you get one you have to stop and pour a shot and drink it. Gonna play where person on right rolls dice and person passes it when doubles are rolled, or when they get a shot

  4. Barbara

    I make mine throughout the year with family memories, gift cards, money, novelties, family pictures, and some hilarious and weird stuff mixed in and then we play for New Years! You can even get donations from other family members so the burden isn’t all on one person to make a good ball.

  5. How long does it take to make this ball?

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  7. I want to do this for my daughter’s 8th birthday party. I see lots of tips for doing this with teens/making it harder, but what about with 8-year-olds? Should I just do one long strip, or smaller strips still? I want them to have fun, but not be too easy. How big of a ball for 8 kids?

    • Hi Sarah, thanks for your questions. In my opinion, if you only do one long strip, the game will be over too soon and you’ll have too few kids who will have gotten to play. It’ll just be too easy for one kid to unravel too much of the ball during their turn. And over all, I think 8 year olds are going to catch the hang of the game pretty quickly.

      As to how big of a size to make the ball, you probably want to think in terms of how much time it will take to unwind, not how many kids will unwind it. The ball will be unraveled continuously. No matter how many hands are involved in that process, you want the game to last a certain amount of time. My ball was about the size of a small volley or kick ball and it only lasted 15-20 minutes. Whether the ball changes hands among 8 kids or 16 doesn’t matter. It was unraveled continuously for 15- 20 minutes.

      Most people make it around the size of a basket ball. In my experience (so far) it takes about twice as long to make the ball as it will take to unravel it. If you want to make it a little easier on the players, then wrap larger items into the ball (like socks) as they take up more space between layers and make it easier to remove the plastic and tape layers around them.

      I hope this helps Sarah, and do let us know how it goes with your daughter’s party! Oh, and wish her Happy Birthday too! 🙂

  8. Patti

    Any suggestions for a version for 25-60 year old adults would be appreciated. Thinking maybe candy, liquor miniatures, gift cards – I am sure I am missing some obvious ones. Thanks in advance!

    • I think it’s always more enjoyable when you include fun gag gifts. I’ve ripped the noise makers out of holiday cards to wrap into the ball, I’ve included holiday socks, which everyone seems to love, no matter how weird they are. High end chocolate, fun pin buttons, gift cards, coupon books, lottery tickets, cash, pennies, phone accessories, key chains, ping pong balls, collectibles, you name it. The wider the range and more eclectic the prizes, the more surprising and fun it’ll be. Let me know what you do! 🙂

  9. I keep hearing about tape? Do you use tape too?

  10. Dawn

    What about adding playing cards along with gag gifts or candies, and whoever has the best poker hand at the end of the ball game gets a separate wrapped present? ??? Would it work?? I think so and am going to make it for New Years.

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  12. Tamm kenn

    This game is so much fun!!! This year will be our 3rd year and we alwayshave a big gathering this year 6 more adults will be added to our usual 11 adults. Then the usual kiddos of 8. So what we are thinkingof trying this year is an S ball for the adults,& an S ball for the kiddos.

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