These backyard cookout games would be great for any outdoor summer event!

backyard cookout party games ideas free frugal diy f

Summer is really here. Long hot days, firefly twinkling nights, popsicles, barbecues and swimming pools. It’s all here. You know you want to be ready to throw some of the best backyard cookouts that anyone has ever been to, you know the kind they will still be talking about for years to come. But wait, you don’t have wads of cash to blow and you don’t have the means to rent the cool inflatables that cost hundreds, no problem. We’ve got you covered with some great outdoor games that you can do on a budget, and still have all your friends and family talking, because they had the best time EVER at your house this year!

The trick to really entertaining the throngs of family and friends with children of all ages is to have a number of stations set up that require either minimal explanation or can be enjoyed by all ages. This allows for your guests to eat, mingle, and entertain all without you being the ringleader. The only catch is, you have to have it all set up before the guests arrive.

backyard cookout party games ideas free frugal diy

Here are a few of my all time favorites, for independent station play

Try backyard TWISTER (you can use the same idea here for backyard checkers using dollar store Frisbees)

Everyone loves backyard, lifesized JENGA

Even little kids can get in on the fun of a HULA HOOP RING TOSS



An  ICEBERG STATION for the preschoolers filled with a few dollar store items

A Carnival Style HIT THE CAN game

A basket of premade CLOTH PICNIC GAMES

A POOL NOODLE RACE TRACK will entertain the preschoolers (and many others as well!)


Another great idea is an OUTDOOR MOVIE, maybe a preschool one for the littles?

Don’t forget to set up a cool PHOTO BOOTH for your guests to pull out their phones and snap great shots!

HOPSCOTCH PAVERS are fun and easy and can simply be flipped over and used in your landscaping after party time is done.

BACKYARD PICKUP STICKS made with either free found sticks or inexpensive dowel rods.

SLIP & SLIDE with tarps, water and a little bit of dish soap.

After there has been some fun mingling and the eating has taken place it will be time to make sure to engage all your guests (young and old alike) into some great team activities with, you guessed it!


a THREE LEGGED RACE (be sure to have the camera ready)!

A CLASSIC EGG TOSS (this will only set you back a dozen or so eggs, you need 1 egg per team of two players, have them get in a line and move back a step each time they toss.

SACK RACES for the little ones (hit up your local thrift store for some old pillowcases that will fit the pre-schoolers)

WATER BALLOON TOSSES are always a hit as well and great for cooling everyone off. Oh, and don’t forget the egg on a spoon race (you can always do this one before the egg toss and maybe even reuse a few of the eggs!)

CLOTHESLINE MARSHMALLOW RELAY, if you have a clothesline you tie marshmallows to strings at different lengths all down the line, set two teams to go and race to see who can pick a marshmallow, eat it and return to tag the next in line to race down and do the same, when all marshmallows in one of the team’s rows are eaten, the team wins!

Trust me, with a little planning, some ingenuity and a dash of creativity, you can throw the best outdoor cookout that anyone has ever attended. You don’t even have to break the bank to do it!


Dawn is a homeschooling mom living out her dream of a simple life on a small farm with her husband and 5 children. She is an avid gardener, a lover of simplicity, and blogger of natural living at Incidental Farmgirl.