Photo: Mark Bowden via 123RF

As you wrap up summer parties with one final barbecue or Labor Day event, make sure to include games and activities to keep the kids occupied while adults grill and enjoy the neighborhood company. With minimal prep, you can provide plenty of fun for kids of all ages!

Tag and Alternative Versions

Set aside plenty of space for the kids to play tag during your summer barbecue. The good news is that they don’t need an open yard since having spots to dodge and hide behind can be useful. If the kids at your event need some alternative game versions to add a little novelty, try one of these.

Zombie’s Bluff

Blindfold one person and give everyone else 30 seconds to scatter around the yard (but don’t hide). Then spin the blindfolded “zombie,” send them off, arms outstretched, to try to tag as many players as they can. Kids around the yard can duck and dodge, but they can’t move their feet! The last person tagged is the next zombie.

Statues and Tourist

If your party goes after dark, this is an excellent evening game. Designate one person as the “tourist” and give them a flashlight. The other kids scatter around the yard and get ready to be “statues.” The tourist roams the yard, shining the light on the statues who try to stay completely still (no giggles!) when the light is on them. As the tourist moves around the yard, the statues in the dark are free to move around, but if they’re caught moving in the light, they become another tourist. The last statue standing is the winner!

Giant Backyard Yahtzee

Kids love games, and anything comically large or otherwise unique is always a crowd-pleaser. This giant game of Yahtzee is easy to make with a little prep work ahead of time. All you need is some wood and paint! Set up the game in the yard and use a whiteboard or some sidewalk space to let the kids keep score. After a few rounds of the official game, you may find they’ve discovered other uses for these oversized dice!

Photo: saksit kuson via 123RF

Sprinkler Limbo

If you’re planning a summer party during the hottest part of the day, include some water games for kids to cool off and stay occupied. Sprinkler Limbo is a fun way to introduce a bit more structure to the water play, and it gets kids moving in a predictable pattern rather than simply running around the party getting everyone wet! You can easily make this game using your garden hose and a pool noodle. If there aren’t enough volunteers to hold the limbo “pole,” you can transition the game to “jump over the noodle” instead.

Backyard Scavenger Hunt

It’s a good idea to have one or two “calmer” activities for the kids to enjoy as they recover from running around or eating dessert. A backyard scavenger hunt is a perfect opportunity for a little educational activity (and some quiet for the adults). You can create your own list of items for kids to find alone or in teams or use online templates for inspiration. Print lists with words and pictures so the youngest kids can see the items independently. For parties where older kids and adults want to join in on the fun, the scavenger hunt can move throughout the neighborhood rather than staying in the backyard.

Balloon Games

It’s not a party without balloons, and an outdoor barbecue is no exception. Inflate balloons before the party and have them available for various games. Kids can play “keep the balloon in the air” around the yard for the simplest game or make things more complicated with a balloon-waddling race. A bucket of water balloons is another fun way to keep kids entertained on a hot day.

Chalk Murals

Set up an area where kids who want to embrace their artistic side (or take a break from running around) can go wild! Tape off an area on the driveway, sidewalk, patio, or fence where kids can use chalk to create an original mural. You’ll have outdoor décor to admire until it rains again!

Water Gun Games

Try introducing water gun games if you don’t have the space for expansive water games but want the kids to cool down during the party. For something simple, draw a small picture with chalk on the ground (one for each kid) and have them race to see who can erase their image with water gun blasts first. If you have time for a more elaborate setup, try this fun water gun race that will undoubetedly bring out the giggles.

The kids (and adults!) at your summer barbecue will love these activities and stay busy the whole time!