Five homemade backyard games play this summer

Summertime means cookouts, reunions, graduations, and other reasons to step outside and enjoy the great weather. Outdoor games are a great way to spice up any summer party, by getting your guests to interact.

Here are five outdoor games that are great for any age and can be made with common household items:

1. Bocce

How to play: Bocce ball may be played using one small ball and eight balls slightly larger. You could use one golf ball and eight softballs or any toy balls that would fit the purpose. Divide your players into two teams of four. One player from the starting team tosses the small (target) ball approximately ten feet from the starting mark. The starting team then tries to get as close to the target ball as possible. After all of the starting team members have thrown their balls, the opposing team attempts to beat the closest ball. If the opposing team gets closer, the starting team takes a second turn. The scoring team then starts the following round.

Scoring: The team with the closest ball gets one point for each ball that is closer than the opposing team's ball. First team to 16 points wins.

2. Ladder Golf

How to play: The game ladder is created by using 1-inch PVC pipe, elbows, and t-connectors. Cut 2-foot long pieces of PVC pipe for the rungs and 1-foot long pieces for the sides and feet. Bolos are made by drilling a whole through two golf balls and tying them together with nylon cord. You need to make two ladders and two sets of three bolos in contrasting colors for each game set. Place the ladders 15 feet apart, as opponents take turns throwing at the opposite ladder while standing next to the opponent's ladder. Game may be played with two players on each team alternating.

Scoring: Players wrapping the bolo around the top rung receive a score of three, middle rung receives two, and bottom rung receives one. Maximum score in one round is nine (three bolos on the top rung). Winning team is the first to reach 21 points exactly, without going over.

3. Scavenger Hunt

How to play: Divide party-goers into two teams and have each team choose a captain. Hand each captain a note card with the first clue written on it. Send each team down a separate road in search of a buried treasure. Use landmarks in your backyard for the clues, but do not use exact location—be vague.

Example: Clue - Go to the silver U in the back of the house. The silver U is the leg of the clothes line that is shaped like a U and painted silver. When they get there, there will be a note card attached giving the next clue. Mark each "clue card" with the team number (1 or 2), so there is less confusion. There is no skipping ahead if the last clue is found accidently and they must present the buried treasure and all of the clue cards to win. Use at least five clues for each team. When they get to the final clue destination, that is where the treasure that you have buried will be found. I like to use a shovel as the final spot, so the winning team can use it to uncover the treasure.

Scoring: Team that finds the treasure, and presents all five clue cards wins.

4. Washer Toss

How to play: Create a 20"x20" box and place a 3-inch tall 4-inch PVC pipe in the center. Place sand around the pipe until the level is just below the top rim of the pipe. Place washer toss boxes at least 15 feet apart for adults. Using a 2.5-inch washer, teams take turns trying to toss the washer up in the air and into the pipe.

Scoring: Teams getting the washer inside the pipe receive three points, and teams landing the washer outside the pipe, but still inside the box, receive one point. Winning teams must reach 21 points exactly without going over.

5. BAGGO

How to play: BAGGO boards are made using a smooth wood surface, measuring 48 inches long and 24 inches wide, with a whole drilled near the bag of the board large enough to fit a 6"x6" bean bag through it. You will need two boards at an incline of at least 21/2 inches in the front and 12 inches in the back. Bean bags can be made with canvas or out of an old pair of jeans. Sew three sides of a 6.5"x6.5" piece of material, with right sides together at a half-inch seam. Turn right-side out, fill with one pound of beans or popcorn, and slip-stitch final side of bag. Make four bean bags in two different colors. The BAGGO boards should be placed 20-feet apart, with players standing next to the opposing team's board. Players take turns attempting to toss four bean bags into the hole on the top of the board.

Scoring: Players receive three points for each bean bag that lands inside the hole and one point for each bag that lands on the board's surface. First team to 21 points wins.

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Updated Thursday, Jun 9, 2011