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The Ultimate List of Restaurant Waiting Games for Kids

When I think back about all the judgement and shade I threw at other parents at restaurants, before I had kids, I cackle like a crazy old witch.

I once told my husband at a restaurant, with a very judgmental tone, “Darling,” I said, “we will never give our kids technology at restaurants. They must learn to be bored and behave.”

Fast-forward, to the day we brought our first child to a restaurant for a family “date night”. He threw every piece of food we gave him on the floor and he cried to play with the butter knife. Then, he proceeded to climb out of his highchair and run off 85 times in a row.

We quickly learned that if we ever wanted to eat outside of our own kitchen, EVER again, we had to make some swift changes.

Screen-Free Boredom Busters

As my husband and I added two additional kids to our family circus, we were not surprised to find that family outings became exponentially more challenging.

Handing my kids tablets or phones to play on did give my husband a chance to relax; however, call me crazy, but that was not what I wanted our family to do when we went out to eat.

If we were taking a rare trip to a restaurant, I wanted us to interact AND relax. We created these 10 quiet restaurant activities, which are guaranteed to keep your kids occupied, while still allowing for family interaction and fun.

Make sure you print off the FREE packet at the end!

1) What is Missing?

To play this game:

  • Collect a few small objects from the table (such as a salt shaker, a fork, ketchup)
  • Tell everyone to shut their eyes and remove ONE object
  • Everyone has to try to guess what is missing

2) I Spy

To play this game:

  • Choose any object around the room
  • Tell the group “I spy with my little eye something….”
  • Describe the object until someone guesses
  • The winner goes next!

3) Would you Rather?

Ask the group if they would rather…

  • Read minds or see the future
  • Be a bird or a dolphin
  • Be rich or be smart
  • Have a pet dragon or a pet unicorn

What other ones can you think of?

4) Categories

To play this game:

  • Name a category such as colors, fruits, cereals, TV shows
  • Go around the table and each person has to take turns naming something from the category
  • EXTRA: Also make it a competitive game where whoever guesses a certain item you are thinking of wins

5) Soap Opera

To play this game:

  • Observe another group of people
  • Make up a silly story about them
  • Take turns acting out what you think they are saying

6) Silverware Letters

Call out letters and have the kids make the letters out of silverware or crayons. Letters can include A, E, F, H, I, K, L, M, N, t, W, X, Z.

7) Measuring Game

Measure different things on the table using other items. Try to have the kids guess in advance.

Example: How many ‘sugar packets long’ is the table?

8) Bingo

Play Restaurant Bingo! Use the game-board from the FREE printable packet at the end of this post.

9) Tic-Tac-Toe

Play Tic-Tac-Toe. Use the game-board from the FREE printable packet at the end of the post. Use different colored sugar packets instead of X’s and O’s.

10) Simon Says

Play a quiet game of Simon Says.


  • Put your hand on your head
  • Put your fork on your plate
  • Take a drink of water.

Final Thoughts

These activities will keep your family occupied so that you can enjoy the night out. I always bring an activity bag, as a back-up. In this I include things like:

  • Crayons and coloring book
  • Play-Doh
  • Small toys
  • Small crafts, such as bands to make bracelets

And yes, I always still throw in a tablet or technology device for last resort. (Hey, I want to enjoy myself!)

Don’t forget to print out your free Kid’s Boredom Busters for Restaurants. Click here to download

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Nikhila ch

Sunday 15th of December 2019

The beginning of this is funny. Revelation after becoming a mom. It happens to everybody, I guess. Anyway, it's a great read.

Luna S

Monday 25th of November 2019

These all seem like fantastic ways to help pass the time while you wait for food.


Monday 25th of November 2019

Tic Tac Toe is fun. We used to visit a cafe in my neighborhood just to play this game.


Saturday 23rd of November 2019

Whenever I went to a restaurant as a kid, I enjoyed the kid activity mats that were placed in front of me and my brother. This packet reminds me of that wonderful time and hopefully parents can us this whenever they go out and eat!

Jamie Tutson

Friday 22nd of November 2019

These will definitely come in handy! We stopped talking the kids out to eat because my two year old has been so difficult 🤦🏽‍♀️

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