7 DIY backyard games that are perfect for the cottage

Frisbee cup

While horseshoes and bocce ball are cottage classics, getting a good set can be surprisingly expensive. Fortunately, there are plenty of cottage games that you can make yourself with a few dollar-store components and a little ingenuity. Try one (or a few!) of these out this summer, and you may just find a new favourite.

1. Lawn Twister 

Photo by Apartment Therapy

Twister: the game that combines luck, physical strength, trash talk, and occasional moments of hilarious intimacy. The only thing that would make it better is if you could play it outside—but wait! With just a few cans of spray paint, you can bring this classic from the rumpus room to the great outdoors. Simply spray the dots onto the grass, and use the spinner from the original game (or make your own with some cardboard and a paper clip). And if you want a true challenge, play in the evening, when mosquitos are out.

2. Balloon Darts

You’ll need actual darts to play this game, but otherwise, the toughest part of putting it together is blowing up the balloons. Just prop up a giant piece of particleboard (or any surface you don’t mind filling with holes) and attach blown-up balloons with tape or tacks. Take turns, and see who can pop the most balloons. And of course, as with any game using sharp projectiles, be safe!

3. Frisbee Cup

Photo by Nutri-lawn

Tired of tossing a Frisbee back and forth? Try switching things up with a game of Frisbee Cup. All you need are a few plastic drinking cups, some lawn stakes, and a Frisbee. You can play with two people, or divide groups into two teams. Each team has a “goal” consisting of two lawn stakes just wide enough apart to get a Frisbee through and a cup on each stake. Get your Frisbee between the other team’s goal, or knock their cups down, to get points. This is the perfect way to finesse your Frisbee skills and get a little competitive with your cottage pals.

For detailed instructions, check out our guide to Frisbee cup here.

4. Giant Jenga  

Take a two-by-four from the bottom, and you put it on top. Ok, so the jingle for giant Jenga isn’t the catchiest, but the game itself is a great way of bringing a tabletop classic to the outdoors. Bigger blocks mean bigger stakes as you build your tower to nerve-wracking heights. All you need to play are two-by-fours cut into 10-inch pieces. Stack them up, and see who can move the most blocks to the top without knocking them over. As a bonus, you can make a great arts and crafts activity out of painting the boards.

5. Pipe Ball

Photo by This Old House

The setup of this game requires a little bit of work, but the payoff is a deviously difficult and addictive game similar to the classic arcade game skeeball. The goal is to rack up as many points as you can by tossing a tennis ball into a set of pipes. The harder the target, the more points it’s worth. Not sure whose turn it is to do the dishes? Settle it with a game of pipe-ball. Loser washes and dries.

For instructions on building your own, check out this tutorial: thisoldhouse.com

6. Bean Bag Toss

This is a classic that never fails to bring the kids out to the yard. To make a bean bag toss, just cut a few holes in a sheet of wood or even thick cardboard, and prop it up to make a target. If you don’t have bean bags, you can use tennis balls, or else make your own with cloth, dried beans, and a needle and thread. This game is another fun one to decorate, so get creative in building your board!

7. Water Cup Races

Photo by All For The Boys

Ever wish you could play carnival games without having to shell out wads of cash and be shouted at by carnies? Water cup races bring all the fun of the fair to your backyard. Just cut holes into the bottom of some plastic cups and hang them on a series of strings, then use water guns to try to push the cups to the end of the string. It’s great target practice, and unlike at the amusement park, there’s nothing stopping you from turning your water stream on your opponents. Sharpshooters can reduce the size of the cups to make the game more challenging.