As the weather warms up and you start to spend more time outside, you might be wondering what to do for fun. Whether you’re gathering with family or friends, a selection of large group games can help you plan your outdoor get-together. I’ve put together a list of several games that work with groups of many sizes.
Don’t just spend the summer playing video games inside or sitting in lawn chairs feeling bored. Get active and creative with these fun games that are sure to transform that backyard picnic or barbeque. Ready for fun for all ages?
- Active Games
- Aim Games
- Ice-Breaker Games
- Team-Building Games
- Giant Games
- Sports Games
Camouflage is a game with just the right amount of activity to get your heart pumping.
Camouflage was one of my all time favorite games as a teenager. It’s kind of like speed hide-and-go-seek. The person who is “it” chooses a spot in the yard to stand. Everyone else forms a circle around them.
Whoever is “it” will yell “camouflage,” and count down from ten. Everyone else tries to hide as best they can in those ten seconds. The seeker must then try and find as many people as they can–without moving from their spot.
When someone has been found, they’re out. Once the seeker gives up, the hiders who weren’t found circle up again for another round. The game continues until only one person is left hiding; they are the winner! Now switch seekers and play again.
For an added challenge, add a rule that the hiders cannot hide in the same spot twice. You can also up the stakes by lowering the countdown with each round. The seeker starts at ten, then goes down to nine, eight, seven, and so on until everyone is found.
This game is great for kids, but fun for adults as well.
Stop was another childhood favorite for me. Like Camouflage, it includes short bursts of running but isn’t as tiring as games like tag. Here’s how it works.
One person starts in the middle, holding a ball. (You want a softer ball, like a kickball, plastic ball, or even beach ball.) Everyone else circles around them. The person in the middle tosses the ball into the air and calls a name.
Everyone except whose name was called runs as fast as they can away from the ball.
Whoever’s name is called has to run forward and catch the ball. Once they have the ball in their hands, they’ll yell “STOP!” Everyone else must stop running immediately.
The person with the ball must then attempt to hit someone from the circle with it. If they succeed, that person steps into the middle for the next toss. If they miss, they are the ones who have to start in the center and call a new name for the next round.
3. Drip Drip Drop
Drip drip drop is a summer-perfect version of duck duck goose.
Duck duck goose may sound like a game for small children, but have you ever played it recently? It can be quite an intense game! This version is especially made for days of summer heat.
Whoever is “it” will walk around the outside of the circle with a container of water. Instead of tapping on heads saying “duck… duck… duck…” as in the original game, “it” will walk around dripping small amounts of water on each head and saying “drip… drip… drip…”
When they decide to choose someone, they will dump the rest of the container on that person’s head and start running. The person who was “dropped” on will stand up and chase the other person around the circle. If they catch them before they manage to sit down, the first person remains “it.”
However, if the first “it” does manage to sit down in the empty spot, the chaser now becomes “it.” Refill the container of water and let round two begin.
You can also play this with water balloons, tapping each head until finally breaking the balloon over the chosen person’s head. This is a great way to segue into a water balloon fight.
4. Bocce Ball
Bocce ball is easy to pick up and can be played on almost any outdoor space with very little equipment or preparation.
If you’re more into games that are all about precision and aim, bocce ball is a good place to start. Each player receives two or three colored balls. One person takes the smaller white ball and tosses it some distance ahead.
Each player must then take turns tossing their colored balls, trying to land them as close to the white ball as possible.
Once all players have thrown their balls, you can walk over to see who is closest. The player who is the closest gets a point. If, however, both of a player’s balls are nearest to the white ball, they receive two points.
Bocce ball is a great group game because it can be made more or less simple. Playing with kids? Toss the white ball lightly so that it lands closer to your starting point and is easier to aim for. Want to make it more challenging? Play on a hill or make a course with obstacles you need to swerve.
Looking for a more adrenaline-filled game? Try axe throwing!
I got the idea for this group game from my dad, who is a big fan of DIY projects. After unexpectedly winning some throwing axes from an auction, he decided to build a target for his backyard.
Once the target was built, he marked off a secure area and convinced family and friends to get good at tossing axes. If you don’t have a pair of throwing axes lying around, you can find some for decent prices online.
You can build a target with any leftover wood you have lying around and a fresh coat of bright paint. Make sure that you set up your target in an area that is remote. You can set up hay bales as a safety wall behind the target, and rope off the area in the rebound zone so no one can get too close. Make sure you also have a safe place to store your axes!
This group game does take a lot of practice, so you’ll only want to try if you have plenty of time for you and your guests to practice. But, once you do master the technique, it’ll be an impressive party trick!
This Finnish game is all about careful aim.
Molkky is a game that originated in Finland. It’s also called Finska and it is similar to a few other wood-throwing games. The premise is simple. You have a stick of wood to throw and several wooden pins, called “skittles” to knock over.
Each skittle is marked with a number, which is the number of points you get if you knock them over. The goal is to reach 50 points, but there’s an added twist that you must get exactly 50 points. If you go over, your points are dropped to 25 and you have to build back up.
Also, if you don’t hit any skittles three throws in a row, you’re out! Really adds some pressure to the game.
If you’re having trouble with Molkky, you can shorten the distance from which you throw. However, as someone with terrible aim, I can confidently say that I love this game and have a great time even when I lose.
7. Question Beach Ball
Beach balls are great tools for games, especially ice-breakers.
If you’re spending time with a relatively unfamiliar group, you may want to start with some ice-breaker games. These games are designed to get conversation flowing and help the group feel comfortable.
One easy ice breaker game is Beach Ball Questions. Use a permanent marker to write several short questions on the ball. These can be themed questions for a family reunion or special event, or they can just be random “get to know you” questions.
Some favorites are: If you could have any super power, what would it be? Are you a spender or a saver? What animal do you most identify with? What’s the last thing that made you laugh?
Once you’ve got your questions written, have the group stand in a circle. Toss the ball around, and whenever someone catches it, they have to answer the question under their right thumb.
If someone gets a repeat question, they can just toss the ball back up and catch it on a new question. Once people have all answered several questions, you can transition to an easy game such as trying to bounce the ball up as many hits as you can without it touching the ground.
8. Family Picture
Improv games are a quick way to get a group laughing.
Another way to break the ice for a new group of people is to play a game that’s all about laughing. For this game, you’ll need one person to be the “storyteller” and four or five people to be the “actors.” The rest of the group becomes the “audience.”
The storyteller will turn their back from the actors, who will begin moving around. After a few moments, the storyteller will tell them to freeze. The actors must freeze in whatever position they’re in at the time.
The storyteller will then explain to the audience what is happening in the scene. They describe each actor’s actions as if the actors are people in a family photo.
This game is sure to cause a lot of laughs, and it will reveal quite a bit about each storyteller’s personality, not to mention the actors.
9. Never Have I Ever
There are various versions of Never Have I Ever, but my favorite includes a bit of movement and is great for a large group.
The premise of Never Have I Ever is simple. You’re competing with your friends or family to find out who has led an interesting life (or maybe just made the most bad decisions). This is a great ice-breaker game because you’ll learn a lot of interesting facts about the people you’re playing with.
For this outdoor version of Never Have I Ever, each person sits in a circle, either in a chair or a spot on the ground. One person stands in the middle and says something they have never done.
Every person in the circle who has done that thing must stand up and find a new circle. The last one standing becomes “it” and has to stand in the middle of the circle and share something they’ve never done. It’s a great way to learn a lot about your group!
10. Human Knot
This game will bring any group closer together–literally!
The Human Knot is not a game to play with your friend who hates touching people. In this game, the goal is to create a giant human knot, and then try to unknot it.
In the simple version of this game, each person stands in a circle and takes the hand of someone next to them and someone across from them. Once everyone is thoroughly tangled, the group works together to try to untangle the knot and form a circle again.
In another version, one or two people leave. Everyone else then forms a circle while holding hands, and creates a knot without letting go by stepping over and under arms and winding the circle into as tight a knot as possible.
The person or people who left must then come back and work together to solve the human knot and return the group to their original circle.
11. Egg Drop
One way to encourage team bonding is to put together a group of people and ask them not to break an egg.
An egg drop challenge is a great team building experience that you may have already seen at school or at a church event. It’s great for any group though, as long as you have a few extra eggs.
Give each team some supplies to work with, such as straws, tape, and paper. Each team must then try to form a structure that supports the egg despite a large drop. You can drop the eggs from a roof, tree, or a window.
Whichever team’s egg is unbroken, or least broken, wins. This game is also great, though, because even a broken egg still makes for lots of laughter and fun.
12. Cross the River
Cross the River is a game that will help you understand “team” in a whole new way.
This is probably the most complicated game on the list, but it’s a really excellent way to encourage teamwork and cooperation. Cross the River works with kids or adults. You’ll need a rope, or some way to mark off a square, and “stepping stones” which can be made of colored paper, cardboard, foam, or wood.
Set up a square and randomly drop your stepping stones into the square. The exact amount will vary based on how many people are playing, but you want to make sure there are enough stepping stones so that someone can easily walk across the square stepping only on the stepping stones.
The group should then divide into four teams. Each team lines up on one corner of the square. The object of the game is for each team to make it to the opposite corner–except all teams will be moving at once.
There’s a catch, though! Once someone has stepped on a stepping stone, there must always be a foot on the stone or else it will be removed. That means that teams have to work together to make sure there are enough stones in the square so that everyone can make it across.
This game requires a lot of teamwork and creativity, and it almost always leads to follow up discussion about what it means to work as a team and find solutions that benefit your team and the teams around you.
What’s more fun than Jenga? Giant jenga!
One great category of outdoor games is giant games. Many of your favorite board games can be played outside in plus-size format. The larger size of Jenga adds an element of danger and a lot more pressure.
Though you can purchase giant jenga games online, I recommend building your own. If you build your own Jenga set, you can make them the exact size you want and can add some layers of paint to make it unique.
However, when building your own, make sure each piece is as uniform as possible, or else the game won’t work.
In case you’ve never played this reverse-building-block game, here’s how it works. You stack the wooden pieces together in rows of three. Then, each player takes turns trying to remove one piece at a time. Whoever knocks down the tower loses that round.
Chess is the perfect mix of strategy and creative thinking.
Chess is a complicated game, so I won’t explain all the rules here. However, you’re using several pieces, such as the king, queen, knight, bishop, rook, and pawns, to move across the board and take out the other player’s pieces.
The first player to kill the opponent’s king wins!
You might think that chess is only a two player game and a game typically played indoors. However, with a giant chess set that all changes. The game can then be moved outside where there’s more space, and teams can work together to develop a strategy.
Another way to involve a group would be to set up a chess tournament. (Though I recommend playing speed chess if you choose this option.)
Inflatable dice are portable, lightweight, and extremely fun.
Once you find a set of giant dice, there are several games you can play. Farkle is one of my family’s favorites. For giant farkle, you should work in pairs. You’ll need five dice for this game.
On their turn, each pair will throw the five dice. They may then set aside pointers and roll the rest. At some point, players must decide when to stop. If you roll no pointers, your turn is over and you lose your points.
As far as finding giant dice, you can buy inflatable dice, wooden dice, foam dice, or even make your own cloth dice.
16. Ultimate Frisbee
Action-packed and easy to play, there’s a reason people love ultimate frisbee.
If your gathering is in a large space, consider a quick round of ultimate. This game involves two teams trying to get the frisbee across the field into the other team’s goal. Players aren’t allowed to run with the frisbee, so must pass it back and forth between players to get across the field.
Frisbee is a sport that doesn’t require contact between players (no tackling!), though it can get quite competitive. Even if you aren’t usually great at sports, ultimate frisbee is fun even if you only catch the frisbee half the times it’s thrown to you. The game is so fast-paced and action-packed that no one will even notice.
Another great pickup game, all you need for kickball is a ball.
Kickball is reminiscent of baseball, but it’s easier to play without the proper equipment and field. All you need is a ball and a marker for the bases.
Two teams compete to make the most home-runs. One team plays the field while the other team kicks. After kicking, the player must run to the first base. Once the next kick happens, the first player runs to second base while the first runs to first, and so on.
Meanwhile, the team in the field tries to get three outs by catching the ball in the air or picking it up and tagging out a player before they can reach the base.
Perfect for beaches or parks, volleyball is a favorite group game.
Volleyball also needed to make this list, though it does require a net. However, if your get-together is happening at a park or beach, there’s almost certainly a net nearby you can use.
Teams volley the ball back and forth over the net, getting points if the opposing team drops the ball or hits it out of bounds.
Though there is more to volleyball than this simplified explanation, it is an easy game for beginners who just need to know that they should hit the ball over the net. It’s a fun team sport and it’s nearly impossible for anyone not to get involved and excited.