Super-easy DIY outdoor games for summer fun

Warm weather means spending more time outdoors, and along with popsicles and wading pools, lawn games are a big part of the fun.

While games like bocce ball or croquet are outdoor classics, getting a good set can be surprisingly expensive. Fortunately, there are plenty of outdoor games that you can make yourself with a few dollar-store components and a little creativity. Whether you’re spending time at the cottage, or in your backyard or a park, here are a few games to try out this summer that are sure to become family favourites.


Balloon Darts

You’ll need darts to play this game, but otherwise, the hardest part of putting it together is blowing up the balloons. Just prop up a giant piece of particleboard (or any surface you don’t mind filling with holes) and attach blown-up balloons with tape or tacks. Take turns, and see who can pop the most balloons. You can award points from one to ten to each balloon using a Sharpie to up the stakes. As with any game using sharp objects, this game requires mature supervision depending on the age of the participants.


The Grass is Lava

This one is super-easy. All you need is a beachball. Everyone spread out and try to keep the beachball in the air. The person who lets it touch the ground first has to go sit to one side, and so on, until there’s only one person left standing. Or just yell out “The grass is lava” at random times during the day, forcing everyone to scramble and find a place to climb onto to get off the grass. Or sand. Hilarious!


Frisbee Cup

Bored with tossing a Frisbee back and forth? Try switching things up with a game of Frisbee Cup. All you need are a few plastic drinking cups, some lawn stakes and a Frisbee. You can play with two people, or divide groups into two teams. Each team has a goal made of two lawn stakes just wide enough apart to get a Frisbee through and a cup on each stake. Get your Frisbee between the other team’s goal posts, or knock their cups down, to get points. This is the perfect way to improve your Frisbee skills.


Giant Jenga 

This game is a great way of bringing a tabletop classic to the outdoors. Bigger blocks mean bigger stakes as you build your tower to nerve-wracking heights. All you need to play this game are two-by-fours cut into 10-inch pieces. Stack them up, and see who can move the most blocks to the top without knocking them over. As a bonus, you can make a great arts and crafts activity out of painting the blocks different colours and designs. Just make sure that when the blocks begin to fall — run!


Lawn Twister

Twister is a game that combines luck, physical strength and hilarity. The only thing that would make it better is if you could play it outside — but wait, you can! With a few cans of spray paint, you can bring this classic from the rumpus room to the great outdoors. Simply spray the dots onto the grass, and use the spinner from the original game (or make your own with some cardboard and a paper clip). Or if you have a big driveway, you can use sidewalk chalk for the dots. If you want a real challenge, play it in the evening when the mosquitos are out.


Pipe Ball

Setting up this game requires a bit more work, but the payoff is a challenging and addictive game similar to the classic arcade game skeeball. The goal is to rack up as many points as you can by tossing a tennis ball into a set of pipes with random heights. The harder the target, the more points it’s worth. Not sure whose turn it is to do the chores? Settle it with a game of pipe ball!


Bean Bag Toss

This is a classic that never fails to get everyone outside. To make a bean bag toss, just cut a few holes in a sheet of wood, or even thick cardboard, and prop it up at an angle to make a target. If you don’t have bean bags, you can use tennis balls. Or as another fun craft, just make your own with cloth, dried beans, and a needle and thread. This game is also another fun one to decorate, so get creative when building your board! If you want a simpler version, just use baskets or recycle bins to toss them into.


Water Cup Races

Water cup races bring all the fun of a country fair to your backyard. Just cut holes into the bottom of some plastic cups and hang them on a series of strings stretching the length of the yard, then use water guns to try to push the cups to the end of the string as fast as possible. It’s great target practice, and if it’s a hot day, there’s nothing stopping you from squirting each other as a distraction.


Musical Lawnchairs

A game using something we all have in our yards. Set up a bunch of lawnchairs in a circle, making sure that there’s always one less chair than people participating, crank up the summer tunes and go for it. Everyone walks slowly around the chairs while the person in charge of the tunes randomly stops the music. That’s when everyone has to scramble to find a seat. The person who is left standing has to leave the game, one chair is removed, the music starts and everyone starts circling again. The music stops and starts and chairs are removed one at a time until only one person is left standing. Mayhem always ensues.


You can get creative with prizes, too, if you want to make the games really competitive. And for extra fun, set up multiple games at once and have a private carnival!