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Ranking the Best Backyard Games!

It’s finally starting to look a little bit like summer outside and that means getting ready for another sunny season of backyard barbeques, tailgating parties, and community get-togethers! What better reason could we have to start thinking about—and ranking—the best backyard games for you to play with friends and family this summer?

Number 5: Water Guns

Equipment Needed

Water guns. (One for each player.)

How to Play

Get out the water guns. No, all of them. Every last one. (Except the one you keep hidden at the parents’ table for protection—and that would be the biggest one, obviously.) Fill the guns up with water in secret. Then, distribute among the children when they need to let off some steam. Watch them chase each other around for about 10 minutes, then immediately calm down. Bask in the accolades of the other adults who were getting overwhelmed by kids exposed to sunlight and sugar and didn’t know how to handle it.

Learning Curve

1/5. You take the water gun. You shoot the water gun. Only at other people who also have a water gun. That’s pretty much it.

Why it’s Number Five

When the kids are getting cranky from being too hyped up on marshmallow salad and fruit punch at the first sunny backyard barbeque of the year, you can be the hero that this party both needs and deserves by passing out a secret stash of water guns for the kids to chase each other around with. It’s not a game in the sense that there’s scorekeeping, but it is a game in the sense that parents can win some quiet time after the kids have burned through the sugar they’ve been eating all day and are exhausted enough to sit still with the grandparents for a while.


Number 4: Volleyball

Equipment Needed

Volleyball net, volleyball.

How to Play

Volleyball is a game for two teams of six players each. The first team (determined by coin toss) serves the ball over the net, then the receiving team sends it back. This happens until one team misses the ball. Then, the other team is awarded points and gets the ball to serve to the opposing team. The game is played until one team wins two sets (in a three-set match) or three sets (of a five-set match).

Learning Curve

5/5. Volleyball is easy enough to understand while watching but requires somewhat advanced skills to play. Different positions interact with the ball using different types of hits, and there are many other rules that must be followed throughout the game. It can be difficult to play among teams of mixed-skilled players due to familiarity with the rules and different strategies.

Why it’s Number Four

Despite a higher learning curve than any other game on this list, Volleyball is a lot of fun for players at the required skill level, and there are many variations that make it possible to play with those who are just starting out. Swap out a beach ball for the volleyball and pass it back and forth over the net to build up an understanding of the fundamentals, or use the net to play Badminton instead, because “shuttlecock” is objectively a very funny word.

Number 3: Horseshoes

Equipment Needed

Horseshoes, stakes, space.

How to Play

Horseshoes is a game for two teams of one or two players. Stakes are set into the ground forty feet apart. Players take turns standing at one stake and throwing their horseshoes at the opposite stake. Points are awarded based on distance from the stake and whether the shoe makes contact with the stake.

Learning Curve

3/5. If you can throw a two-and-a-half pound object underhand and have decent hand-eye coordination, Horseshoes is the game for you. The irregular shape of the shoes adds some variation and nuance that takes additional skill to master.

Why it’s Number Three

Horseshoes is a classic backyard game that’s persisted for generations. It’s more popular among the older set, but we think this classic is due for a comeback! Ask around and you’ll probably be able to find someone in your social group who has a set and is looking to get started playing again.

Number 2: Beer Pong

Equipment Needed

A card table (or similarly sized table), red Solo cups (or similar sized cups), ping pong balls (or similar sized … you know what, you get the idea).

How to Play

Beer pong is a game for two teams of one or more players each. Set up cups in two triangles, one at each end of the table, and partially fill the cups with beer. Players stand at opposite sides of the table and attempt to bounce their ping pong ball into the opposing players’ cups. If the ball goes into a cup, the opposing player has to drink. There are many variations on the rules of Beer Pong, and many ways to win.

Learning Curve

3/5. It’s harder than you think to bounce a ball into a cup, especially once you add alcohol!

Why it’s Number Two

Is it really a backyard barbeque without beer pong? We would say ‘no.’

Number 1: Cornhole

Equipment Needed

Cornhole boards and bags. You can add more to the party with accessories like score towers to better keep track of the score, lights to keep the game going after dark, and a carrying case to make transport even easier.

How to Play 

Boards are set up 27 feet apart, with two teams of two players each standing next to one board facing the other. One player on each team takes alternating turns throwing 4 bags at the board and points are assigned based on how the bags make it into the holes (or don’t), then players switch. The first team to 21 points wins!

Learning Curve

2/5. Anyone who can throw a one-pound bag at a hole 27 feet away can learn how to play Cornhole! 

Why it’s Number One

Cornhole is fun for all ages from children to elders. It’s simple enough to understand if you’re a little drunk and still challenging while sober. The rules are easy to follow and variations make it difficult to master. Ask around your social circle to find out who has the boards and bags (we guarantee someone does—every friend group has someone who loves this game!) or you can be that friend by getting your very own custom Cornhole board and bags made to showcase your interests!

Do you agree or disagree with our rankings? What’s your favorite backyard game, and why is it Cornhole? Let us know in the comments!


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