Backyard Party Game Ideas

Playing croquet

Every backyard party ought to include at least a few activities to keep everyone mingling. Get ideas for games that can provide some fun for all your guests.

Backyard Fun and Games

Backyard games are typically fun, low-pressure activities that people of all ages can enjoy. You can make them available for guests to play if they choose, but you can also set up an organized competition and declare a champion by the end of the party. Consider offering some of the following games for your party guests.

Water Balloon Toss

A water balloon toss is a great game for a hot day because guests are guaranteed to get splashed. Prepare the water balloons before the party, filling them in a sink or outdoors with a hose. A large bucket can help you easily store and carry them. You will need one water balloon for every two guests. However, you should make a few extra in case some burst before the game begins.

  • Ask guests to pair up and make two lines with partners facing each other.
  • Players throw the water balloons back and forth, but after every toss, the players on one side take a step back, creating an increasingly larger distance between partners.
  • If your balloon breaks, you are out of the game.
  • The last team to have an intact water balloon is the winner.


Playing corn hole

Cornhole is a fun backyard tossing game. The cornhole board is a slanted wooden surface with a hole at one end, and two boards are used to play the game. Players toss four beanbags at the board, attempting to throw each beanbag in the hole.

  • Place the boards 27 feet apart.
  • Divide into separate teams of equal numbers or play one-on-one.
  • Each side takes a turn to toss their four beanbags at the board in an attempt to score.
  • Teams score one point for every bag that lands cleaning on the board with no bounces on the ground. They score three points for every bag that drops completely through the hole.
  • The first team to score 21 points wins the game.

Ladder Golf

Ladder golf is another throwing game played with a game ladder and golf ball bolas.

  • The ladder consists of three plastic rungs supported by wooden legs.
  • Each bola is made of two golf balls connected by string.
  • The goal of the game is to score points by throwing your bolas so that they hang from one of the ladder's rungs, with each rung worth a different number of points.
  • You can also try to knock your opponent's bolas off the rungs to keep them from scoring points.
  • Guests can play one-on-one or form teams.


Have a limbo contest! You can purchase a limbo set complete with music, but you can also have two people hold a pole between them for players to pass under.

  • Start out with the pole positioned just high enough that people have to bend slightly to pass under it.
  • Once everyone takes a turn, gradually lower the pole for each subsequent round.
  • Anyone who touches the pole or touches the ground while passing under the pole is out of the contest.
  • The last person who is able to pass under the pole without touching is the winner.


If you haven't played horseshoes, you're missing out on a classic and wildly competitive game. If you're can get hold of actual horseshoes, all you need to do is drive a metal or wooden stake into the ground, and let players take turns seeing how closely they can throw their horseshoes to the stake. You can also purchase a horseshoe game set.

Game of horseshoes
  • There are either two separate players or separate teams of two players each.
  • Agree on the total number of points you'll play to, and the player/team that reaches those points first wins the game.
  • Each side takes a turn to toss two horseshoes at a stake set in the ground. They must toss the shoe from a point three feet away from the stake.
  • Only shoes that lay within six inches of the stake are considered for 1 point each. If opposing players both have shoes within the limit, the one closest to the stake takes the point. If they are of equal distance from the post, no one scores. If one player has two shoes closer to the post than her opponent, she gets two points.
  • If a horseshoe lands in a leaning position against the pole, it's worth one point and beats any shoes on the ground.
  • Shoes that encircle the stake are known as ringers, and they are worth three points.

Water Pistol Shooting Contest

Hand players squirt guns, preferably super soakers that pack some punch, and let them take turns at seeing who is the best shot.

  • Set up a shooting gallery by placing empty 2-liter soda bottles or tin cans in a row on a fence rail
  • Award one point each for hitting a target, and two points each for knocking it off the rail.
  • Agree on how rounds you'll play, and the winner is the person who scores the most by the end of the final round.

Squirt Gun Freeze Tag

This is a creative and much cooler version of the traditional freeze tag game. Guests try to "tag" each other by squirting other players with their squirt guns.

  • Ask guests to bring their own squirt guns if they have them, but make sure you have a few on hand for guests that come without one.
  • Divide into two teams.
  • Players try to tag members of the opposite team. Once a player is tagged, he/she has to freeze in that spot.
  • A player can only be unfrozen by being tapped by one of his/her team members. They have to accomplish this without being tagged by one of the opposite team's squirt guns.
  • The last team to have at least one unfrozen player is the winner.

Backyard Sports

Everyone loves a little friendly competition, so planning some traditional backyard sports can also be a good way to get guests involved. Suggestions include:

Playing bocce ball
  • Volleyball
  • Badminton
  • Baseball
  • Bocce ball
  • Darts

You can find supplies for all of these games at sporting goods stores and discount retailers. They are available at a range of price points, depending on quality. Look for all-in-one kits, such as those containing a net and equipment for both volleyball and badminton, to offer a variety of backyard party game ideas at your event.

More Childhood Game Ideas

Don't forget to add those fun backyard party games that kids and adults have been playing for years!

  • Sack races
  • Three-legged races
  • Spoon and egg race
  • Water balloon battles
  • Hide and seek

Games for Everyone

Whether you're hosting a graduation party, a family reunion, or some other type of backyard party, games give guests ways to interact and have fun. Consider the different ages of all your guests, and choose an assortment of games that will keep everyone entertained.

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Backyard Party Game Ideas