Looking to make the most of your summer with the family? Then you need some DIY backyard games! Not just your average board games, these outdoor games are larger than life. Taking classics like Jenga and magnifying them into jumbo size, playing lawn games with the family just got a whole lot better. Perfect for a family reunion or a last-minute barbecue, these fun yard games were made for everyone to enjoy.
Forget the old standby games like a croquet set, bocce ball, lawn darts, or ladderball. With the help of some power tools and a little bit of skill, you can transform your backyard into party central with these inventive yard games. From Cornhole to Kerplunk, these are the 10 DIY classic lawn games you need to make this summer the season to remember.
1. Giant Jenga
If you thought Jenga was fun, then wait until you play Giant Jenga! When these blocks come crashing down, you better yell timber because this massive stack is no joke. Requiring some woodworking skills, this DIY yard game will take some time to finish, but the end results are totally worth it.
To build this set like Lemon Thistle, you'll need to cut 54 feet of 2X4 into your Jenga-sized pieces. When doing this, it's best to bring in the power tools to do all the cutting. Then, the most time-consuming part will be the sanding. As someone who has experience in this area, I can tell you that it's not the most fun job, but it's definitely necessary. Once that madness is over, stain, then put on a finished coat. Let dry then get ready for some fun!
2. Connect Four Yard Game
Who didn't love Connect Four as a kid? When you see it in jumbo form, all those nostalgic memories come rushing back and you feel like a kid again. The kids will love it, too!
Costing around $60 to make, Build-Basics lays out how to construct this Four-In-a-Row game. It will take you about four hours to make and require a few tool skills so be ready for some hands-on fun. The hardest part will be laying out all the holes, but with a drill bit and a hole saw you'll be able to get the job down.
And a piece of advice from the expert: let the drill motor cool when using and keep an extra charged battery on hand. When it comes to family games, Connect Four is one made for all ages and is one of those party games that's always forgotten about until you see the huge board for yourself.
Cornhole is the game invented for the backyard. No barbecue, camping trip, lazy summer day, or casual get together would be complete without it. And if you're in the South, then this yard game is a must-have.
Building your own cornhole game is no easy task, but the results are worth it. Plus, you'll get bragging rights for making your own. You'll need some power tools and a blueprint in order to make these guys. A Wonderful Thought has outlined the process to make it a bit easier.
Oh, and side note, if you can get your lumber cut at the home improvement store before you leave then take advantage of it. Work smarter, not harder. In fact, DIY-ing a set makes for great gifts to your friends and family who don't have their own set.
4. Bean Bag Toss
If building a cornhole set is out of your range of expertise, then opt for this Bean Bag Toss games. It's simple to make with everyday essentials and it can keep the little ones entertained for hours, especially in the summertime.
All you need to do is decorate some clay saucers and mod podge your scoring points inside. This will be the bag targets and points earned. All you need to do after is come up with a points system, like first to 500 or 1000, to determine the winner.
5. Glow-In-the-Dark Bowling
Want a fun activity to spend time outside with the family on those warm summer nights? Glow-In-the-Dark Bowling is the perfect nighttime activity and it's incredibly easy to set up. One of the only games made for the after-hours block party on this list, you'll remember that bowling is a fun game, after all.
You'll need six empty water bottles, some glow sticks, and the kid's pet hamster ball. When you're ready, toss in the sticks to light everything up and you are ready to bowl.
6. Yard Game Yahtzee
Who's up for a game of lawn Yahtzee? Converting five 4x4 blocks into wooden yard dice, you can spend the afternoon with the family shooting dice in this fun outdoor game, yelling "Yahtzee!"
To make your life easier, Momtastic offers up some DIY instructions that make this game a cinch. Rather than having to cut and sand your own blocks, hit up Michael's craft store and buy the already sized blocks. Then, after some wood burning fun you'll be ready to roll. Oh, and don't forget the bucket to toss all the dice in one swoop.
7. Outdoor Word Games
Scrabble, Boggle or Bananagrams, these outdoor word tiles are three games in one! While some opt for making these pieces out of wood, that takes a little more work. Instead, do what From the Carriage House does and use heavy duty cardboard.
You'll need 100 tiles, so there will be plenty of cutting and lettering involved, but if you have a big family the process will be expedited. To get those letters looking perfect, you can cut them out and spray with adhesive. Or, you can opt for a stencil and a Sharpie. Either way, you'll have fun playing any one of the three games.
8. Giant Outdoor Kerplunk
The kids will go crazy when they see this Giant Outdoor Kerplunk! When you quadruple the size of this game, you quadruple the fun. If you have a stand already, then that takes most the work out of this yard game. If not A Little Craft in Your Day has a step by step tutorial laying out the basics.
This is so much more fun than sporting goods, or games that require skill from the user. Kerplunk! is a game for the whole family. Using some 2x4s and 4x4s, you can easily make a stand. Then secure a cylindrical chicken wire to it with some zip ties. Next, load it up with the dowels and plastic balls and you're ready to Kerplunk!
9. Ladder Golf
Ladder Golf is fun for all ages. The best part is, it's incredibly easy to make! More sturdy than the cheap plastic ones you get at the store, this DIY Ladder Golf tutorial by Twin Dragonfly Designs will show you how to make this popular game.
Using 4x4s, 2x4s, bolts, washers, dowels, plywood, and a few screws, you'll be ready to challenge the family in no time. Whether you're chilling in the backyard or enjoying a weekend camping trip, the family will be thrilled to play a few rounds of Ladder Golf.
10. LifeSize Foosball
Have a big family? Enough to form a soccer team? Good! Then you have enough players to handle this life-size foosball game. From the kids to grandma, everyone will love this game. It's interactive, entertaining, and the best backyard game around.
The set up for this yard game is easier than you'd think. Requiring primarily particle board, PVC pipes, and planks, you can build this set for basically the price of a normal foosball table. So hop on over to the tutorial and get to it! Your backyard will never be the same.
Horseshoes is another classic game for a backyard BBQ party, and while you might think you need a horseshoe pit and a bunch of sand, you can put together a horseshoe set yourself pretty easily.
Salty Canary has a great DIY plan for horseshoes, and even better, it works for tiny backyards.
Okay, badminton is definitely old school, but for a game with origins that go back 2,000 years, we think old school is a good thing. It's also an Olympic sport (added officially in 1992), so you can add that to your backyard Olympic dreams.
You can play with two people or four (two teams of two), and all you need is a low net, a plastic shuttlecock and racquets. The fine folks at Little House, Big Alaska have a super easy DIY badminton plan (and it works for volleyball, too).
13. Yard Game Tic Tac Toe
As far as giant games go, taking tic tac toe into the backyard is a winner. All it takes is some rope and cutouts of Xs and Os. Paint 'em bright colors, bedazzle them or even replace the traditional X and O with your own design. Follow this plan from Seeking Alexi for a yard game that works at home, on the beach, or at a tailgate party.
14. Ring Toss Yard Game
Ring toss is a simple game: Take a ring, toss it over a stake or bottle. It's harder than it looks, though, and you definitely need some good hand-eye coordination.
You can buy a ring toss game, but it's also simple to make your own with this plan from A Little Craft in Your Day. It's easy to scale up for a big backyard party and easy to pack for an afternoon at a tailgate.
15. Kan Jam Yard Game
Kan Jam is a little like a giant game of outside air hockey. It's also known as trash can frisbee, so if you're thinking of building a DIY kan jam game, that name should give you a starting point. I Love Lawn Games has a good explainer for this fun yard game.
This article was originally published on March 27, 2019.