10 Super Fun Outdoor Games to Play This Memorial Day Weekend
The easiest ways to get everyone enjoying the start of summer.
As the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day Weekend is the perfect time for a backyard bash. And if there’s one incredible way to kick off your party, it’s with a fun outdoor game. But with a range of ages, backyard sizes, and levels of enthusiasm to contend with, that’s sometimes easier said than done. To help you out, we’ve rounded up the best outdoor games to play at every type of backyard party. Whether you’ve got a group of energetic youngsters or need a quiet game to play around a campfire, we’ve got you covered.
Best game for big families: Spoon-and-egg race
So all of your siblings and all of their kids have decided your house is the spot for this year’s family barbeque. Have no fear: this classic yard game is the perfect way to keep huge groups occupied. Have everyone at the party choose a partner and have each set of partners stand 30 feet away from each other in two parallel lines. If you’ve got players of various ages, you’ll want to mix everyone up to keep things fair (i.e. there shouldn’t be a team of 30-year-olds playing against a team of six-year-olds).
Players on one side of the yard balance an egg on a spoon (you might choose to use either a wooden egg or a hard-boiled egg to avoid a mess). On the count of three, each person races to their partner and transfers the egg to that person’s spoon. The first team to have both partners race across the yard wins. Anyone who drops the egg is automatically out. Try elimination rounds (eliminate anyone who drops the egg from each round) and keep playing until you have yourself a champion.
Best outdoor game to play at night: Flashlight hide and seek
Not every outdoor game can be played in the dark, but this one gets even more fun once the sun goes down. To play this game, every player counts while one person hides. Once the person is hidden, everyone grabs a flashlight and looks for them. When someone finds the hider, they join them in hiding. The last person to find the group becomes the hider in the next round.
Best game for breaking the ice: Human bingo
Did you invite friends from high school, college, and the office to the gathering this year? Avoid any awkward silences by playing human bingo at the start of the party. Ahead of your bash, make grid sheets (enough for each guest) with different personality traits or “fun facts” in each box. For example, you could do a mix of facts that will fit a range of people, such as “knows the host from elementary school,” as well as ones that will only fit one person, such as “broke his ankle at last year’s party.”
Have your guests go around and collect signatures from the people who possess each trait. The first person with a full grid of signatures wins. Plus, you’ll get conversations flowing and new friendships forming before anyone even gets to their second drink.
Best game for a pool party: Capture the bottle
Keep things interesting with a Memorial Day bottle quest! Fill a clear plastic bottle with water. Try to find a bottle that has a cap the same color as the pool floor (you can also use a magic marker for this). Have players stand with their backs facing the pool and throw the bottle in. Once it sinks, shout “go!” The first player to successfully locate the bottle wins!
Best party game for all ages: Giant Jenga
Sometimes, you need a yard game that can entertain both kids and adults alike. That’s where Giant Jenga comes in. You already know the rules of this building blocks game: Each player takes a turn removing one block from the tower and placing it on the topmost level of the stack. Whoever knocks the tower over, loses.
Add an extra layer of fun to this game by writing different challenges or icebreaker questions onto each block (or just a few blocks). If a player picks a block with a question or challenge, they must answer or complete it. The best thing about this game is that you can keep it in the corner of you party and allow guests to play as they please.
Best outdoor game for kids: Extreme freeze tag
Assign someone to be “it” and start this game like regular freeze tag. If a child is tagged, they are “frozen” until another player “unfreezes” them by tapping them on the shoulder. There are countless ways to add an extra layer of fun to this game. For example, you could have players search for an object as they avoid getting tagged or make it more difficult to get unfrozen (ex: the players have to do a short handshake in order to unfreeze someone).
If you want to introduce even more fun, you could have the person who’s “it” tag people with water balloons (just make sure you choose a mature player who won’t throw the balloons too hard). Regardless of how you choose to play, this is a sure way to get the kids sleeping the entire car ride home!
Best party game to play if it rains: Indoor bowling
Who said rain has to ruin the fun? Get all of the excitement of an outdoor game by playing indoor DIY bowling. You’ll need two sets of 10 plastic bottles, a long hallway, and two soft medium-sized balls. Split into teams and follow the standard rules for bowling. And don’t be afraid to play this one outside too if the weather clears up!
Best outdoor game for an athletic crowd: DIY obstacle course
So all of your friends have discovered Soul Cycle this year. Test out their tactical skills with a DIY obstacle course. Split everyone into two teams and have each team complete a set of jump ropes, wheelbarrow walks, hula hoops, and whatever else you’d like to add to the mix. This is your game to create and it can be as mild or wild as you’d like. For a patriotic twist, use equipment in red, white, and blue.
Best game to play around a fire pit: Heads Up
You’ve had your smores and now it’s time for a campfire game. Download the Heads Up app on the Apple App Store or Google Play and have the first volunteer place the phone of their forehead, facing the rest of the party. The guests will drop hints about whatever it is that’s named on the screen until the designated guesser can figure it out or time runs out. You can also play this game sans phone by writing celebrity names/things/places on index cards beforehand.
Best game if you have a big yard: Capture the flag
You might remember this game if you ever went to sleepaway camp. First, divide into two teams and split the space into two halves. You can use ropes, cones, jump ropes, or any other markers as a divider. Once the boundaries are set, designate one “hider” from each team to hide their team’s flag within their team’s space. The flag should be at least partially visible. You’ll also want to designate a holding zone for holding tagged players.
The goal is to grab the other team’s flag and bring it back to your team’s side. You’ll end up in the holding zone if you get tagged by a member of the opposing team while on their territory, but your teammates can rescue you by tapping you on the shoulder. The first team to capture the flag wins the game! There are tons of variations of this game so feel free to make it your own to suit your space and your players!
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