As summer nears and the weather gets warmer, you might be looking for ways to spend some time outside with friends and family. Outdoor party games are a great solution, whether for your niece’s birthday, a family reunion or a play date with your best friends and their kids.
Plus, many of these games are conducive to social distancing protocols if you’re spending time with non-household members (that said, use your best judgment when choosing a game and adjust as needed).
Check out these seven options that are fun for everyone, small and big kids alike:
Here’s a classic carnival game you can play in your backyard. Get a low table, about 24 empty pop or juice bottles and four hard plastic rings wide enough to fit around the bottlenecks.
Place the bottles on the table quite close to one another. Each player has a designated spot at least four feet away from the table (this can be marked with tape to make things fair). They take turns throwing the four rings, aiming around the necks of the bottles. Keep it interesting by moving further away from the table. The challenge increases as your distance does.
Capture the flag is a classic. To play, make two or more teams and give each a flag or cloth napkin. Each team retreats to a different area in a park, forest or large outdoor space and hides their flag as best they can from the other team. The only catch is that part of the flag must be visible.
Once you start, the teams race to find the other’s flag and return it to their area without being caught by the other team. You can make it simple by tagging with two hands. Or, spice it up with some water balloons. If you’re playing at night, you could simply use the light from a flashlight instead. The team left with the most uncaught players at the end wins.
Originating in Europe, bocce ball has been a long-time favorite of many. You’ll have a set of two different colored balls for each team (or person), along with a smaller white ball. Whoever goes first tosses the white ball anywhere ahead of them.
Then, each team takes a turn to toss their colored ball as close as they can to the white ball. The team that gets their ball closest to the white ball scores one point. You can set the bar for the winning number of points to win.
Most people don’t know the history of Jenga: it began in an African village, was adopted at a tech company in London, and is today enjoyed the world over. Many of us grew up with the classic table-sized game but might not have seen the giant party version you can play outdoors with family and friends.
If you’ve never played Jenga, it’s simple. First, you build the tower alternating three blocks by three blocks. The first player takes a block from any complete level and places it on the highest level to complete it. When any block from the tower falls, the game is over.
This fun and simple game involves two teams tossing bean bags into a board’s hole (the target), or just on the board itself. You can use different point variations, like three points for landing in the target and one point for landing on the board. The first team to reach a set number of points (like 10) wins. To spice this game up, try one with LED lights to play at night.
Blow up three helium balloons and tie them to a weight to keep them grounded. Write a different point value on each balloon, such as 25, 50 and 100 (use a Sharpie or other permanent marker for this). Tape a line across the ground and place the balloons at least 15 feet away from that point (maybe closer if you’re playing with kids). The lowest-scored balloon gets placed closest, then the next highest and so on.
Put a bucket of small but substantial footballs beside your taped line. Each player gets five tosses to hit as many balloons as they can. They score the balloon points they hit, and the person with the most points after five turns wins.
Here’s a fun one. Begin by creating a tic-tac-toe grid with duct or masking tape on a tarp, picnic table cloth or old shower curtain. You could also do this directly on the ground if it’s even enough.
You’ll need at least eight frisbees, four per team. Take turns throwing a frisbee with the aim of a square on the board, just like in regular Xs and Os. the first team to get three of their frisbees in a row vertically, horizontally or diagonally wins.
Emma Caplan is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.