Texas Living

6 DIY Outdoor Games

By Peter Simek 7.30.20

Nothing livens up the long summer days stuck at home like a good old backyard game. The good news is that most of the best DIY outdoor games require little to no equipment, and most can be played using items you already have lying around the house. Break up your routine with these fun and easy ways to get the family outside and playing.


The concept of cornhole is simple: You toss bean bags at a hole cut into a piece of plywood. Land your bag on the board and you get a point. Get it in the hole and you get three points. You and a partner will play against two opponents, each trying to land bean bags in the other’s board; the first team to get to 21 points wins. But don’t let the simplicity of this game fool you — it’s challenging. The best part is that you can adjust the game for players of all ages and abilities — all you have to do is change the distance between your targets.

Get instructions: Check out our plans for a DIY kit.

Ladder Toss

If you don’t have time to break out the jigsaw, try this cornhole alternative. Set up a ladder and tape colored paper onto each of the steps, labeled 1 to 5 in ascending order. Toss bean bags through the ladder rungs; the lowest and widest gap earns you one point, while the highest and smallest gap wins you five points. You can play to any number of points. And just like that, you have created an instant backyard classic.

Get instructions: Find a whole tutorial for carnival games here.

Kick the Can

This one doesn’t even require DIY. Kids have been playing kick the can since the 1930s and it’s still as fun as ever. All you need is an old soda bottle or can and some good hiding places. You can play with as few as three people, making it perfect family game.

Get instructions: Learn all the rules here.

Capture the Flag

Another classic. Like Kick the Can, you’ll need some hiding spots and “jails.” Otherwise, all you need is to pick out flags and choose teams.

Get instructions: Here’s a great guide to the game.

Hook-and-Ring Game

This is the simplest — and most deceptively difficult — game imaginable. All you need is a hook screwed into a tree branch, fence, or wall — anywhere convenient — and a ring at the end of a stretch of fishing line that’s attached to another tree branch, fence, or wall just far enough away that the ring can be tossed over the hook. And that’s the game: Swing the ring and try to land it on the hook. It’s harder than it sounds.

Get instructions: Here’s a good tutorial.

Giant Jenga

We all love the classic game Jenga, in which players carefully remove rectangular wooden blocks from a tower while trying not to knock the whole thing over. But have you ever tried your hand at playing Giant Jenga? The setup is simple: Cut a couple of two-by-fours into 54 identically sized rectangular blocks about 8 inches long. Stack them up like you would a regular Jenga set and give it a go! Nothing beats watching the massive set tumble.

Get instructions: Find detailed directions here.

Check out more of our favorite DIY projects here.

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