20 Outdoor Games for Your Backyard Party

outdoor backyard party gamesWhen the weather’s nice, a backyard party is the perfect way to catch up with friends and entertain in the outdoors. Since standing around in the sun with no activity can get dull after a while (especially for kids), here are 20 outdoor games to make your next party one to remember. 

Off to the Races 

  1. Blanket Race - Bring out your old quilts or throw blankets and have one person sit or lay down on one while several others pick it up and “race” to the finish line — without dropping the blanket rider to the ground! (Don’t pick a family heirloom for this one!)
  2. Belly Balloon Pop - Divide your group into several pairs and blow up a set number of balloons. Have each pair attempt to pop as many balloons as possible just by smashing them between their chests, bellies or backsides — no hands or feet allowed. The couple who pops the most balloons — or who pops all their balloons first — wins. Fill balloons up with water if it’s a scorcher outside and your guests won’t mind getting wet.
  3. Egg Race Obstacle Course - Give this classic race a twist. You’ll need large wooden or plastic spoons, some ropes/chairs/etc. to create obstacles and of course plenty of eggs for this throwback game. Tell competitors to balance an egg in their spoon for the length of the course, which ideally will involve several twists, turns and obstacles to climb over. It can be set up as a relay, timed obstacle course or just a simple race between competitors depending on how many people and props you have. 
  4. Pass the Water - Use plastic buckets or large cups for this wet and wild game. Have competitors divide into small teams and stand single file, and tell the first person in line to lift the bucket up and over his head, dumping water behind him and (hopefully!) into the waiting cup or bucket of the next person in line. Continue down the line. The line with the most water in their bucket at the end wins.
  5. Noodle Ball - Split into teams, with each group having a large laundry basket as their “goal.” Pass out pool noodles and drop a ton of balloons onto the lawn. The team that wins is the one that’s able to get the most balloons into the goal within a set amount of time — without using anything but the noodle. 

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Be Kid-friendly 

  1. Lawn Twister - Use a circular stencil and some environmentally friendly spray paint to create a “Twister” board on the lawn, then use a spinner to determine where each player should put his hands and feet.
  2. Kick the Can - In this old-school twist on hide-and-seek, the player designated “it” counts while everyone else hides. “It” then goes searching for her companions, who must go to a “captured” area if they’re tagged by “it.” In the meantime, un-captured players can attempt to kick a metal can in the middle of the playing area (before being tagged by “it!”) to release all the captured players.
  3. Cartoon Freeze Tag - Just like regular freeze tag, but players can be unfrozen by yelling out the name of a cartoon character and doing an impression. Each character can only be used once, and the game ends when no one can come up with any more characters.
  4. Animal Race - Instruct kids to line up at the starting line, but when they hear the word “go,” they won’t be running. They’ll need to move like whatever animal the host calls out (a crab walks backwards on all fours, a kangaroo hops, etc.) The host can shout out a different animal every few seconds, keeping kids on their toes all the way to the finish line.
  5. Ice Block Treasure Hunt - Get a large plastic container and fill 1/3 of the way up with water. Add in small plastic toys such as dinosaurs, Legos, etc. Place in the freezer and once frozen, repeat two more times until the bin is frozen to the top. Take the block out of the freezer and let kids try to excavate the treasures using tools such as salt, spray bottles and brushes. Let the kids keep their found treasures.
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Have a Ball 

  1. DIY Angry Birds - Bring this video game favorite to life. Print out some Angry Birds faces, and place them on large, rubber balls. Put all those cardboard boxes from online shopping to good use by stacking them high and letting kids throw the balls to knock them down. They’ll wear themselves out running back and forth.
  2. Giant Water Pong - Instead of the red cups and cheap ale, pull out some giant trash cans or buckets, water and big rubber balls. Fill buckets about halfway full of water and set them up in 3-2-1 formation several yards apart. Then pick teams and have players attempt to ring the balls into the giant cups. Just like the adult version, house rules are up to the host (underhand or overhand throwing? Is bouncing allowed?); the winning team clears the losing team’s buckets first.
  3. Soda Bottle Bowling - DIY a bowling alley with giant soda bottles filled partially with water (extra points if you paint them like bowling pins) and a soccer or volleyball used to hurl toward the end of the “lane.”
  4. Trash Can Disc Golf - All you need are a couple of giant garbage cans and a Frisbee or two for this game, which involves splitting into teams and attempting to ring your disc into the opposite team’s can. The first team to 15 wins.
  5. Crab Soccer - Give party guests a real challenge by introducing a game of soccer — but played in the crab walk position. Traditional rules apply, so no using hands to advance the ball. You’ll want teammates with strong triceps for this one! 

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Get Wet 

  1. Water Balloon Dodge Ball - Just like the traditional playground game, but played with water balloons the host has filled beforehand. Split into teams and try to avoid getting wet! Break players out of jail by tossing them a water balloon.
  2. Drizzle, Drizzle, Dunk - Perfect for a sweltering day, this summer version of “duck, duck goose” has everyone sit in a circle while one person walks around, drizzling a tiny bit of water on each person’s head. Then she picks a person to “dunk” and dumps the entire cup of water on his head. The soaking wet person must then chase the dunker around the circle and tag her before she sits down in his spot, making him the new dunker.
  3. Frozen T-shirt Contest - Pop some wet T-shirts into the freezer the night before your party. Take them out right before the game begins. The winner is the one who can get their T-shirt on the quickest. You’ll find out just how creative your friends are!
  4. Slip and Slide - Go store-bought or DIY your own with large plastic sheeting, a hose and maybe a tiny bit of dish soap. Make it a challenge by adding some element at the end like catching a ball or doing a dance move.
  5. Water Balloon Hot Potato - Fill several balloons with water and have competitors stand in a circle. Then make a tiny hole in the balloon and pass it around quickly. If you’re the one holding the balloon when it runs out, you’re out. Repeat the process until only one person remains.
Both kids and adults will have a blast playing these fun outdoor games! Try a few to keep guests laughing at your next party. 

Sarah Pryor is a journalist, wife, mom and Auburn football fan living in Charlotte, N.C.

Additional Resources

100 Summer Craft Ideas for Kids
60 Summer Outdoor Activities for Kids
50 Fun Outdoor Activities for Families
40 Ideas for Your Summer Bucket List