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19 Super Fun Backyard Games and Activities to DIY for $50 or Less

Make the most of your backyard and spend quality time with your family while trying out some of these affordable games and activities for families.

You and your family can try these activities for less than $50!

You’ll also find fun activities for free using materials you already have around the house.

DIY Lawn Games for the Whole Family 

Lawn games are a great way to make the most of family night, entertain guests, and engage in a little friendly competition with friends.

But purchasing lawn games can be ludicrously expensive. Luckily, many lawn games are easy and affordable to make. There are good odds that you already have some of the necessary tools and materials at home.

# 1 – Horseshoes

Horseshoe Pit by Tara Lehman

All you need for this classic game are four horseshoes and a stake. If you have friends with horses, you may even be able to score a used pair of shoes for free! You can also buy horseshoes for a few dollars apiece at equine equipment stores.

If you’re serious about horseshoes, you can build an official pit, but if you’re merely looking for an afternoon of fun, you can just as effortlessly play with a stake hammered into your lawn.

Read more from the epic Lehman Lane blog – how to build a horseshoe pit.

# 2 – Cornhole

Cornhole is an exceptional game for all ages because it’s so easy to adjust the difficulty. Small children can gather closer to the target, while adults should stand farther away to make it harder.

Cornhole also happens to be one of the most straightforward lawn games to make at home. If you’re anything like me, you have a corner in the garage where plywood scraps go to collect dust and gray with age.

Do you have traditional hand tools? Then you can salvage something from the “Leaning Tower of Plywood” and have a cornhole board completed in a couple of hours.

DIY cornhole board

Are you looking for a fun DIY project for your backyard this summer? Build a DIY cornhole board!

I found a helpful tutorial on creating a cornhole board on the Home Depot blog that goes into excellent detail.

The DIY cut list and assembly instructions make the construction process straightforward – even if you’re not the best with tools.

# 3 – Yahtzee, and Yardzee!

Let’s get real! No matter how old you are, giant dice are neat!

Most commonly, big dice rock for playing Yahtzee. Use a bucket as a shaker for rolling the dice, and if you laminate a couple of blank scorecards, you can use them repeatedly by writing scores with a dry-erase marker.

Dice are a handy backyard gaming investment because they are so versatile. You can use them for all kinds of dice games like Pig, Snake Eyes, Quixx, and Farkle.

It’s worthwhile to know that many dice games use six dice while Yahtzee only uses five. If you’re interested in mixing things up and trying different dice games, I’d suggest making six instead of five.

# 4 – Jenga

On the topic of giant yard games, who doesn’t love a game of giant Jenga? Making your own giant Jenga from 2x4s is a particularly great way to use up lots of short pieces of scrap you may have sitting around.

Jenga’s one game where you feel the bigness of the pieces come into play. As the game progresses and the tower gets taller, the threat of toppling and the entertainment factor grows.

Read more about how to make a DIY Jenga board on DIY Pete’s blog!

# 5 – Frisbee Golf

Frisbee Golf by Chas’ Crazy Creations

The sport of disc golf is growing in popularity, but not everyone lives close to a course where you can play. If you aren’t familiar, the rules are the same as golf, but instead of putting golf balls, you toss frisbees.

If you’re serious about this sport, you’ll actually want three discs: 

  • Putter: Intended for short distances; highly accurate
  • Mid-range: Intended for medium distances; reasonably accurate
  • Driver: Intended for far distances; less accurate

If you want to give this trendy game a try, you can put together a makeshift course at home with some tomato cages, baskets, and Frisbees. It takes a bit of practice to master “Frolf,” so practicing at home is a great way to brush up on your skills.

Read more about how to create a frisbee golf course on the Chas’ Crazy Creations blog!

# 6 – Ring Toss

The goal of this game is simple: Toss a ring and successfully hook it over your target. You can get creative with ring targets. Beer or wine bottles, plastic lawn flamingos, and wooden dowels all make excellent choices.

Rings can be made effortlessly enough from lengths of rope held together with tape or glue.

Read more about how to make a ring toss game with wooden dowels from the Family Handyman blog.

Or – learn how to make a ring toss game with bottles from the HGTV blog.

Both are fun and easy options!

# 7 – Dominoes

Lawn dominoes from Dream a Little Bigger

Dominoes is a classic family game. It seems like almost every household has a set! But not every house has a giant pair of Dominoes.

Yard Dominoes also happen to be an easy woodworking project. It’s more of a painting project with a bit of woodworking involved. All you need are some 2x6s, some sandpaper and the paint of your choice.

Want to tap into the world of DIY backyard dominoes in much further detail? Learn more about how to make yard dominoes on the Dream a Little Bigger blog.

# 8 – Molkky

This Finnish throwing game is easy to learn – but tricky to master. The game involves a bit of accurate throwing and some mental math and has become quite popular since it came about in 1996. Official Molkky rules allow for up to 26 players, so it’s the perfect game for parties.

The game costs close to $100 to buy. But making your own set is easy and costs a fraction of the price!

Learn how to make a DIY molkky game on the epic My Repurposed Life blog.

# 9 – Kubb – (aka Viking Chess)

Kubb is similar to Molkky in that they are both games that involve throwing wooden pegs to knock over targets. The game of Kubb (also known as Viking Chess) is far older. Some say it dates back to the Vikings.

Kubb playing equipment:

  • 4 Boundary Stakes
  • 6 Throwing Batons
  • 10 Kubbs
  • 1 King Kubb 

The gameplay involves strategically throwing batons to knock over the opponent’s pins. Kubb requires some skill because you must knock the pins over in the correct order. Kubb works best with 2 – 12 players.

We scoured the seven seas to discover the best Viking Chess game set tutorial. We found an epic and worthy guide from This Old House – it’s worth a read!

Kid-Friendly Backyard Activities

If you have kids, you might be looking for affordable ways to keep them busy while school is out for the summer. It’s even better when you can find activities that the adults in the family will enjoy too.

Here are some kid-friendly backyard activities that everyone will enjoy.

# 10 – Bean Bag Toss

The bean bag toss is a fall fair favorite. The goal of the game is simple: toss a bean bag into a target. I love the simplicity of using large bowls as targets. They’re affordable, and the setup only takes a couple of minutes.

Hoola hoops or circles drawn on the ground with sidewalk chalk also make excellent targets to aim your bean bags at – a fun way to spend your afternoon!

You can also make your bean bags. Bean bags are a fun project for kids learning to sew. Fabric can be salvaged from old clothes or pillowcases. Gravel, rice, corn, or beans can be used as filling.

Read our favorite how to make bean bags guide from our blogging and craft-wizard friends over on My Poppet. We also love the 10 bean bag game ideas. Perfect!

# 11 – Hoola Hooping

Hoola hooping is a challenging and fun activity for kids to do. Adults, it’s a surprisingly excellent core workout! Once you’ve mastered the art of keeping one hoop around your hips, try for two, then three, then four.

Hoops are surprisingly easy to make from PEX plumbing.

Try using brightly colored tape to add a little pizzazz to your homemade hoop. As a general rule, smaller hoops need to spin faster while larger ones spin slower. So, if you’re first starting, a larger hoop will be much easier to use.

After much research, we’re confident that Pop Shop America has the coolest (and best) how to make a DIY hula hoop instructional anywhere. Check it out!

# 12 – Nature Scavenger Hunt

Forest Scavenger Hunt by Kristine Stephenson

You can download this forest scavenger hunt as PDF so you can print it and take it into the forest by clicking the “download” button below!

Most children love scavenger hunts. (Many adults also love scavenger hunts!) Scavenger hunt templates are easy enough to find online, or you can make your own.

Whether we’re in the backyard, enjoying a nature walk, or at the beach, scavenger hunts are a fun way to test your child’s eye-spy abilities. Challenge them to find four different kinds of leaves, a heart-shaped rock or a twig shaped like a letter “y.”

# 13 – Sidewalk Chalk Pictionary


One of the best activities that offer boatloads of potential drama, intrigue, laughter, and mystery!

Pictionary is a much-loved drawing game for good reason. It’s hilarious watching people sketch as quickly as possible while everyone makes guesses about the drawing taking shape.

If you have a paved area in your yard, all you’ll need is sidewalk chalk and your list of things to draw, but if you don’t, some plywood and a pint of black chalk paint can quickly come together to create a DIY chalkboard.

We also love this fun guide that teaches how to make an outdoor chalkboard on the HGTV blog.

# 14 – Gardening

Backyards are the perfect place to start a garden. It doesn’t matter how big or small your yard is. It doesn’t even matter what you want to grow – herbs, flowers, veggies, fruits, or something far more exotic!

Peas, beans, squash, corn, sunflowers, and cucumbers are all great choices to grow with kids. They have larger seeds which make them easy to handle, and they tend to be vigorous growers. You can almost see them get bigger every day!

To learn more about starting a garden from square one, read our epic article – how to start a vegetable garden from scratch in your backyard.

# 15 – Rock Painting

Image by Kristine Stephenson

Rock painting is a timeless craft – for a good reason! Rocks are dirt cheap (pun intended) and have far more personality than a canvas.

There’s also no better way to decorate your garden, outdoor walkway, front porch, or backyard patio, guaranteed!

When rock painting, you’ll want to use paint with good coverage. Acrylic paint works beautifully well, but you should keep an eye on your eager (and younger) family members to ensure that they don’t get it on their clothes. Acrylic doesn’t readily come out of fabric!

Painted rocks are an artfully genius addition to flower beds. I also use painted rocks in my garden as veggie markers.

# 16 – Bee Watering Stations

Bees need to drink water too!

Collecting pollen and nectar is hard work, and it’s common for bees to seek water in their travels. It’s also common for bees to drown in bodies of water that are difficult for them to access.

After conducting many bee rescue missions in my watering can, I learned about bee watering stations!

An ideal bee watering station offers bees a landing pad where they can safely access water. Voluminous clamshells with pebbles in them, pie plates filled with seashells, or saucers with glass marbles are all attractive options that you can add to your yard to support local pollinators.

Check out one of my favorite guides that shows how to make a DIY bee watering station. Perfect if you want a fun project that can hopefully attract some beneficial pollinators to your garden!

# 17 – Bird Feeders

Introduce yourself to some of the local bird species in your area and make a birdfeeder.

Popsicle sticks, toilet paper rolls, tin cans, and old wine bottles are items that repurpose magically into birdfeeders with a tiny bit of creativity. What other everyday treasures can you salvage from the recycling bin?

The birds will find your feeder in no time, and soon your backyard will be full of the antics of songbirds. They can be rather entertaining to watch, and learning to identify them can be an enthralling process.

PS – One of the best examples of making a popsicle bird feeder is on the Made With Happy blog.

# 18 – Knot Tying

Learning to tie knots can be tricky, but it can be a valuable life skill. Animated Knots is an excellent resource for how to tie knots. All you need is a little bit of rope or paracord and quite a lot of patience.

Once you’ve got some of the basic knots mastered, you can test them out and string up a hammock in the backyard, create a fort, or try your hand at making a macramé swing.

# 19 – Stargazing

How many constellations do you recognize when you look up at a star-scattered sky? Did you know that some constellations are only visible during certain seasons? Or that some constellations have interesting stories behind how they got their names?

Spread a quilt down on the lawn and take a few moments to look up. There are 88 constellations in the sky, and on certain nights, it is even possible to see some of the other planets in our solar system. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a shooting star.

Fun constellation printables

Want a fun (and space-related) learning printable activity? Then you’ll love these tracing constellations!

I found the constellation printables browsing the University of Alaska Fairbanks museum archives. They look like a fun activity to try if you love star gazing – plus arts and crafts!

You’ll find tracing printables for Orion, Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, and The Milky Way. Astrology nerds unite!

Backyard Games and Activities, Reimagined!

Your backyard blares with potential for fun and games, learning opportunities, and extraordinary memory-making moments!

Whether you want to entertain your grandkids the next time they visit – or if you’re entertaining guests for an evening of wild tomfoolery, we hope that these ideas serve you well.

Give these affordable backyard activities a try this summer, and please have barrels of fun!

Let us know which ones were your favorite in the comments below!

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  • Elle

    Elle is the founder and visionary of Outdoor Happens. She adores wild gardens. Makes sense, considering she's never been very good at fitting into boxes, sticking to neat rows, or following the rules. Elle is a qualified permaculture teacher with a diploma in horticulture and naturopathy. She lives on a farm with cows, sheep, horses, chickens, and a bunch of horses. Passions include herbalism, fermentation, cooking, nature, animals, and reading.

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