Your child just told you they want to have a birthday party at home.

At your house.

Half a classroom full of energetic, over-stimulated little people.

Don’t panic. We’ve got what you need. You need some outdoor birthday party games – to protect your home and your sanity. If you are feeling brave or need to work on indoor birthday party games, we’ve got you covered too

Here is a list of 15 inexpensive outdoor party games for kids to entertain kids while they are having fun. It’s easy to adapt the games to become part of the party theme.

Awesome Outdoor Birthday Party Games For Kids

Here is our list of party games you can play outside at home in the backyard. We’ve selected games that are fun and don’t require too much extra equipment. We hope your child and friends have a great birthday!

Treasure Hunt Games

There’s probably not a kid on this planet that isn’t fascinated with finding treasure. Treasure Hunt games can be played outside, inside or both.

Number of players: Any number of kids of all ages

Equipment Needed:

All treasure hunt games require:

  • Treasure items
  • Treasure bag for each child to hold treasures found
  • Your control-list with the treasure items and where you’ve hidden them.

Treasure hunt game varieties may need additional equipment as listed below.

Treasure hunt games with clues or lists:

  • Pen and paper to create your clue list
  • Cards or paper with clues for kids. One card per child or team of players
  • Items for activities to qualify for the next clue

String Treasure Hunt Equipment

  • Ball of string per kid

Sand Treasure Hunt

  • Sand tray or sandbox
  • A pirate flag (or other party theme flag) for each child

Game Rules and Description:

Treasure hunt games are adaptable for any age and for any duration of time. Hide treasures in the garden or indoors. Remember to make a note of the treasures and where you’ve hidden it.  

Then let the kids find these hidden treasures.

Treasure Hunt with Clues or List

For a more intricate treasure hunt, give them clues to follow to where the items are hidden. They can search individually or if there are many kids, group them into teams to hunt together.

Variations on using clues or a list

  • Each clue leads to a treasure.
  • Each clue leads to a place or item where the next clue can be found to the ultimate treasure.

To lengthen the duration of the game, the kids must do something to receive the next clue. For example, sing a song, run around the house or build a tower with building blocks.

String Treasure Hunt

String Treasure Hunt is a variation on treasure hunting where balls of string are used instead of clues.

Unwind different colors of string throughout the house (inside and outside) that leads from the starting point to the treasure. Each kid has their strand of string they need to follow to the treasure.

Sand Treasure Hunt

Hunting for treasure in the sand is a great outdoor party game for a pirate or adventure themed birthday.

Before the kids arrive, bury treasures in a sand tray or sandbox.

Each kid plants their flag in the sand where they think a treasure is buried. When all flags are planted, the one whose flag is the closest to the treasure gets the treasure.

Scavenger Hunt Games

Treasure hunt games are all about finding the treasure; scavenger hunt games are about finding all or a certain number of items on a list.

Age and Number of Players:  For any number of kids of all ages. It depends on the type of scavenger hunt.

How to Plan a Scavenger Hunt For Kids with Chris Pegula - ModernMom's Dad Space

Equipment Needed:

  • Paper and pen to create item list
  • Item List:
    • Traditional Scavenger Hunt suggested item list here
    • Non-traditional Scavenger Hunt requires no list, just a small item for each team 
    • Animal Shelter Scavenger Hunt suggested item list can be found here
    • Nature Scavenger Hunt suggested item list here
  • Container to collect items scavenged
    • Neighborhood Scavenger Hunts – wheelbarrow or wagon
    • Nature Scavenger Hunt – spoon, bucket, and a large plastic bag
  • Optional but fun are water bottles and snacks for the Nature Scavenger Hunt games.

Game Rules and Descriptions:

The basic objective of a scavenger hunt is for teams to see who can find the most items or be first to find all the items. Where treasure hunts need to follow a sequence of clues to a treasure, scavenger hunts are random, on condition that the teams find the items listed.

Divide the players into different teams. Use the party-theme to name the teams or to dress up accordingly. For example, with superheroes, each team can represent a superhero and dress like that hero.

Give each team a list of items they need to find.

A fun way to end the hunt is with a picnic and discussion of items found. Have a magnifying glass ready for the curious who would like to have a closer look at the treasures found during the Nature Scavenger Hunt.

Traditional Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt

Group kids into teams and send them out into the neighborhood to scavenge for the listed items from neighbors. They may have greater positive responses if the neighborhood knows about the scavenger hunt. Send an adult with each team of kids.

Give each team a name, a list, and for fun have them dress up.

Divide the group into two teams. To prevent players from going to the same homes, let one team scavenge on the left side of the street and the others on the right side. If the party is large, divide into more groups and allocate specific streets or blocks.

Set a time limit, for example, an hour, for them to collect the items from neighbors.  

Non-Traditional Scavenger Hunt

No list needed to play the non-traditional or ‘Bigger better’ scavenger hunt.

The object of the game is to scavenge the biggest item.

Each team starts with a small item like a paperclip, a button, or a toothpick. They must find someone who would trade their item for something bigger or better.

The teams go from house to house trading their item until the set time runs out and they return with their scavenged item.

Picture or Video Scavenger Hunt

With the Picture Scavenger Hunt, the team takes pictures of the items on the list. The nature of this scavenger hunt allows for a creative and imaginative item not possible with other types of scavenger hunts.

Video Scavenger hunts allow for fun poses, actions and activities the teams need to do while being videoed.

Animal Shelter Scavenger Hunt

For animal lovers, this scavenger hunt helps a good cause and players feel good for helping animals while having fun.

The kids go from door-to-door asking if people would like to donate items on the list to the specified animal shelter. When an item is received, it’s ticked on the list. The team who completes the list first or collects the most items win. Allocate extra points for collecting more of the same item and also for items not on the list that is donated.

Speak to the local animal shelter to find out what items they need when creating the list. Then the kids will not only have fun but will be helping the animal shelter collect items they need.

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Play Nature Scavenger Hunt in your backyard, at the park, or the lake or pond. Take safety precautions beforehand and make sure the terrain is safe from harmful insects and plants.

Each child is given a spoon, bucket, and a bag to collect the items on the list. The winner is the child who completes the list first. Children can scavenge individually, in pairs or as teams.

8 Mall Scavenger Hunts for Teens

Although the location would give preference to girl parties, these Mall Scavenger Hunts are for preteen and teenage boys and girls.

Kids are grouped into teams. If a child is rude, runs or screams in the mall, then their team is disqualified. They must be polite and friendly to salespeople and shoppers.

Scoring works as follows

  • 5 points for each item scavenged
  • 10 points for the first team to finish
  • If you don’t want to disqualify a team for rudeness, or to run, or screaming, then deduct 10 points

For a variety of Mall Scavenger Hunt, ideas visit https://www.birthdaypartyideas4kids.com/mall-scavenger-hunts.htm. The website includes scavenger lists. Most of the items are free to obtain.

Obstacle Course Run

Link – https://www.marthastewart.com/270078/obstacle-course-birthday-party

Age and Number of Players: 8-Year-old

Equipment Needed:

Depending on what kind of obstacles you are planning, here is a suggested list of items you will need.

  • 150 balloons and balloon pump
  • Permanent marker
  • Map of the course
  • A wooden ladder, sandpaper, and bright paint
  • Inflatable pool and rope swing
  • 3 Newspaper sheets for each child
  • Wooden table, yarn, tape, balloons, foam padding for table legs
  • 8 x 4-foot Sanded beam cushioned with pillows 
  • Other household items that can be used for obstacles
  • Garden stakes to hang balloon markers at each obstacle
  • 8 Plastic hoops
  • Cookie pendant on a ribbon (medal for each child)
  • Numbered T-shirts (cut out numbers from iron-on fabric)
  • Brightly colored tablecloth decorated with white stickers for the ceremony table.

Game Rules and Description:

Have the obstacle course in your backyard or if you have permission at the local park. Be safe and inspect the area for any holes or possible hazards that can harm the children. Set up the obstacle course the day before and have a kid complete the course as a test run to see if it flows and works as planned.

Mark each obstacle with numbered balloons. Blowing up balloons take time and should be done the day before the party.

Take a break with eating cake when all the kids completed the obstacle course once. Then they can take turns completing the course from the end to the beginning.

Finish with a ceremony and present each child with their cookie pendant medal.

Possible obstacles

  • Balloon Table. Cover the table completely with balloons—top, bottom, and sides. Use string and tape to secure the balloons. Use foam padding to wrap table legs. The kids need to pass under the table through the cloud of balloons.
  • Balance Beam. Lay the beam on the grass. The children must move across the beam as fast as possible without falling off. Alternatively, raise the beam on 6x6x12 inch blocks and large screws.
  • Ladder Run. Sand and paint the ladder a bright color and place it flat on the grass. Each kid moves through the rungs of the ladder.
  • Crab Walk. Sitting on the grass, the child bends their knees, leans backward locking their elbows. Then they must move as fast and as straight as they can for 8-10 feet to the finish line.
  • Hoop Alley. Place eight plastic hoops in a line for kids to step in, lift over their head and drop behind them to step into the next hoop. Replace the hoops in a row before the next child’s turn.
  • Newspaper Walk. Ideal for at a challenging turn in the course. The child needs to place a newspaper sheet where they want to take their next step. Give each kid three sheets.
  • Rope Swing over the inflatable pool. For easier grabbing, tie big knots in the rope’s end. 

Duck, Duck, Goose, and Variations

Age and Number of Players: 2-12-year-old and at least four players

Equipment Needed: None

GOOSE!

Game Rules and Description

Although there’s no limit to how many kids play, the more kids there are, the larger the circle which increases the distance the child needs to run to escape the goose.

The child who begins is ‘it.’ They walk around the circle tapping each kid’s head saying ‘duck.’ When ‘it’ taps a child’s head and says ‘goose,’ they start running because the goose will chase them.

The object is that ‘it’ reaches the goose’s spot in the circle before tagged by the goose. If they make it, the goose becomes ‘it.’ If the goose catches them then ‘it’ stays ‘it.’

Mushpot

Mushpot is a variation of Duck, Duck, Goose. If ‘it’ is tagged by the goose, ‘it’ sits out the next round and goose becomes ‘it.’

Extreme Duck, Duck Goose

This version is for older kids and adults. The players stand in a circle jogging on the spot. All the ducks must do some form of exercise like a squat or pushup.

The goose runs in the opposite direction as ‘it,’ and they try to block each other to see who can reach the goose’s original spot first.

Swimming Tag It

Played in a swimming pool the tagging becomes ‘fish’ and ‘shark’ or any other version of the birthday party theme.

 ‘It’ swims away from the shark. The shark tries to catch ‘it’ with the same swim-stroke ‘it’ is swimming.

Sing or Dance Duck, Duck, Goose

Eight to ten players can play this variation. Everyone in the circle holds hands and ‘it’ are two people holding hands.

They call duck or goose by touching the linked hands of two players.

While still holding hands the geese chase ‘it.’ If the geese reach their spots in the circle first, ‘it’ needs to do a song or dance together inside the circle.

Doughnut Challenge

Age and Number of Players: 7 years and older

Equipment Needed:

  • Ringed doughnut for each participate
  • Extra doughnuts
  • String
  • Wet cloth for sticky faces

Game Rules and Description

Attach a string to each doughnut. Hang those stringed doughnuts across another string. Spread the doughnuts out giving kids enough space to move around while eating the doughnut.

The object is to eat as much doughnut before it falls. The rule is that the kids aren’t allowed to use their hands. They must grab and eat the doughnut using their mouths with hands behind their backs.  

Sometimes a doughnut falls to the ground before a kid has a chance to take a bite. To avoid unnecessary disappointment, substitute the doughnut and let the child play again.

Under Over

Number of Players: each team should consist of at least 4-8 children

Equipment Needed: a balloon or ball for each team

Game Rules and Description:

The winning team is the team who sits first.

Group the kids into at least two competing teams and let them stand in a row. Give the ball or balloon to the player at the front of each team.

The balloon is passed backward (while the child is facing forward) to the player standing behind the player with the balloon.  It’s passed alternatively over the head backward and then under between the legs.

When the player has passed the balloon, they run to the back of the line. When the first player reaches the front of the line again, the team sits down. The team who sits first wins.

Marco Polo

Age and Number of Players:

  • 3 to 9-year old for Marco Polo played on land
  • 6-14 years if played in the water

Equipment Needed:

  • Scarves for all the children except for Marco Polo
  • Water Marco Polo
    • Pool
    • Safety swimming gear

Game Rules and Description

The object of the game is to locate Marco Polo blindfolded. One child is selected to be Marco Polo; the rest of the children are blindfolded.

Using their five senses, they must find the designated Marco Polo. The players may call out ‘Marco’ as often as they wish. Each time they call ‘Marco,’ Marco Polo must reply with ‘Polo.’

When a child finds and touches Marco Polo, they become Marco Polo.

Marco Polo with Items

A variation on the game is to use items instead of a person being Marco Polo.

Guide the children to the item by using Marco for ‘close to’ and Polo for ‘far from’ the item. The words hot and cold can also be used to indicate the location of the item.  

Giant Bubbles

Age and Number of Players:  All ages who like to blow bubbles

Equipment Needed:

  • Giant bubbles recipe (mix ingredients without making bubbles. First the cornstarch in water and then add the rest of the ingredients)
    • 12 cups of distilled water
    • 1 cup dish soap
    • 1 cup cornstarch
    • 2 tablespoons baking powder
    • 2 tablespoons glycerin
  • Giant bubble wand made with
    • 2 drinking straws
    • Length of yarn 6-8 times the length of the straw
    • Thread the yarn through the straw and tie a knot.

Game Rules and Description:

Have fun while trying to make the biggest giant soap bubbles using the giant bubble wand. Don’t lose hope if the first few don’t work so nicely.

Relay Races

Age and Number of Players: As many children at the party

Equipment Needed:

  • Area large enough for the specific race
  • String or chalk to indicate the beginning and end of the race
  • Optional is a whistle or flag to start of the race

Additional equipment may be necessary for game variations.

  • Egg and Spoon Relay Race – hardboiled egg and two spoons per team
  • Balloon Relay Race – balloons
  • Blindfold Relay – blindfold or scarf to cover the eyes of the runners
  • Fill the Bucket – 2 buckets, water, and a plastic cup or sponge for each team
  • Sack Relay Race – a sack for each team. Potato or flour sacks work well

Game Rules and Description:

The object of the game is to see which team finishes first.

Divide the kids into competing teams. At the word go one child per team races to the finish line and back to the starting line. Then the next child in the team has their turn to run.

For variety, instead of running, the children must crabwalk, crawl or skip to the finishing line and back.

Egg and Spoon Relay Race

The first two players of each team each receive a spoon. The first player runs to the finishing line and back while balancing the egg on a spoon. They transfer the egg to the second player’s spoon and gives their spoon to the next player in the line.

When a player drops the egg, they must pick it up using only the spoon. No hands allowed.  

Balloon Relay Race

Using balloons is an interesting twist to the traditional relay race.

Runners hold a balloon or ball between their knees. The object is to complete their turn without losing, dropping or popping the balloon.

Blindfolded Relay Race

The runner in each team is blindfolded.

The team navigates them to the finishing line.

Fill the Bucket Relay Race

The goal of the relay race is to fill the empty bucket with water.

Each team receives a full bucket of water and a paper cup or sponge. Place an empty bucket at the finish line.

Players take a turn to fill the paper cup with water (or soak the sponge) and run to the empty bucket to fill it with water. They must try to spill as little water as possible while running as fast as they can.

The team whose bucket is filled first wins.

Sack Relay Race

The player climbs into the sack and holds it with both hands. Then they hop to the finish line and back.

The object is for all team players to complete the run.

For more relay race variations visit https://icebreakerideas.com/best-relay-race-games/

Tug of War

Age and Number of Players: at least five players aged seven years or older

Equipment Needed:

  • The rope about 20 feet in length (the longer, the better)
  • Scarf or ribbon to indicate the center of the rope
  • Chalk or ribbon to draw the line on the ground
  • Extra ropes for additional teams

Game Rules and Description:

Divide the kids into two teams of equal number, similar ages, and combined strength.

Have each team stand opposite of each other. Then move players one in front of each other along the rope toward the center. (Place weaker team members in the middle of the line and the strongest at the back). Mark the center of the rope with the scarf or ribbon.

In front of each team, draw a line on the ground with chalk or use a ribbon. 

The object of the game is for one team to pull the other team across their line.

Variations of Tug of War

  • The rule can be that instead of only one member of a team is pulled across the line, the whole team needs to be pulled across.
  • Create a mud pool at the line crossing. The losing team will then need to deal with slipping in the mud too.
  • The children stand on crates while pulling. The object is to pull the players off their crates instead of crossing a line.
  • Multi-way tug of war has 3 or more teams with each team’s rope connected to the center.

Tug of Peace

Tug of Peace is almost opposite to Tug of War and is played outdoors or indoors.

In Tug of War, players aim to pull the other team across the middle line. In Tug of Peace, the goal is to get YOUR team across the middle line.

The rope is not allowed to touch the ground during play.

Another difference is that players can choose which team they want to be in. The game is about strategy and not strength, so teams don’t need to be equally divided.

Clothespin Tag

Age and Number of Players: All ages and any number of players

Equipment Needed: Clothespin for each player

Game Rules and Description

The object of the game is to have the most clothespins clipped to your clothes.

Each player clips a clothespin to their clothing. Make sure they clip in areas that won’t tear or damage the clothing when pulled off.

Players try to grab other players’ clothespin and clip it onto their clothing. Whenever a player is without a clothespin, they are out of the game.

Clothespin Tag Variations

  • Set a timer for 1 minute. The child who pins the most clothespins in the given time wins.
  • One player is ‘it’ and freezes players by taking their clothespin. Other players unfreeze that person by taking one of ‘its’ clothespin and clip it onto the person’s clothing.

Giant Pickup Sticks

Age and Number of Players: 5 years and older

Equipment Needed:

  • 24-36 Bamboo yardsticks without sharp points (depending on how many colors and sticks per color)
  • 1 black stick
  • Spray paint in each color – black, red, blue, green, yellow
  • Clear spray paint

Game Rules and Description:

The goal is to score the most points by picking up sticks. Start the game by holding the pickup sticks and then let go so that the sticks drop to the ground.

Players pick up one stick at a time without moving other sticks. The moment a stick moves, it is the next player’s turn.

Scoring is as follows:

  • 10 points for black stick
  • 5 points for a red stick
  • 3 points for a blue stick
  • 2 points for a green stick
  • 1 point for a yellow stick

Water Gun Games

Age and Number of Players: all ages and any number of kids

Equipment Needed:

  • Water gun for each player
  • Kiddies pool or large container with water for refilling squirt guns

Additional equipment needed

Pyramid Targets

  • 6 large plastic cups (for larger towers use 10 to 21 cups)
  • Table

Water Gun Art

  • Large paper canvas
  • Washable acrylic paints
  • Fence or board to tape the canvas against
  • Tape

Melt Down

  • Large pan for each team
  • Small plastic toys
  • Freezer

Game Rules and Descriptions:

Although squirting someone with a water gun is fun, there are various other ways to play with water guns.

Freeze Tag

One person is ‘it’ who tags and freezes other players by squirting them. Other players can unfreeze the person when crawling through their legs. If squirted while unfreezing someone, the player is also frozen.

When all players are frozen, ‘it’ chooses another player to become ‘it.’

Pyramid Targets

Create a pyramid for each player with the plastic cups. Build pyramids with 6 cups or create larger ones with more cups.

Children take turns squirting at the cups to try and knock the tower down.

Water Gun Art

Tape a large paper canvas against a fence. Then fill each water gun with a color of paint.

The children use the water guns to squirt creatively and paint onto the canvas.

Melt Down

The object is to free all the toys frozen in a block of ice.

Prepare the ice blocks the day before. Use a pan with water and place plastic toys in the water. Then freeze it overnight. Prepare one for each team.

Divide the children into teams. They must free all the toys by squirting at the ice block.

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