11 Backyard Birthday Party Activities For Kids: Some Classic, Some New!

If you’re going to have a crowd of kids over for a birthday party, ideally you’ll be able hold it outside, where all of that wild energy can be spent and where spills and mess don’t matter as much.  But outside parties take some planning if you don’t want them to become just another playdate. Don’t get me wrong, having kids over and sending them outside to play is great, but birthday parties need something extra… some backyard birthday party activities for kids that make the event something memorable.

Some of the ideas below are classic games you may have forgotten about or twists on classic games. And some may be new-to-you ideas that knock the socks off your kids. Keep reading to find out!

Here we go: 11 backyard birthday activities for your kids.

Obstacle Course

My kids (aged 7 and 5) absolutely love it when we make obstacle courses in the back yard for them to race through. And the more kids involved and “competing” either individually or in teams, the better. (And if you have kids that don’t do well with competition, you can eliminate it by just making it “challenge yourself to finish the whole thing”, or have them just enjoy the designing of courses for each other.)

You don’t need a big fancy playground, but having a few “props” does help make it interesting. You can get as crazy as you want, by the way! Add costumes, weird treats they have to eat (like pickles with whipped cream), fill buckets with sand, transfer water from one side of the yard to the other via plastic cups, kick/throw balls at a target until you hit it, do jumping jacks or pushups, skip rope X number of times, etc. etc. Your imagination – and your kids imaginations – are the limit!

“Old Fashioned Fun” Races

Parties and family/church picnics of the past often included racing fun like Potato Sack Races, Three Legged Races, Egg On Spoon Races, Relay Races and the like. Healthy and active fun… old becomes new if your kids have never tried them! And bonus, your party invitees will certainly build up an appetite with these before it’s time for cake and ice-cream!

Classic Circle Games

Musical Chairs, Hot Potato, Duck Duck Goose, I Wrote A Letter, Drip Drip Drop… Yes, these are slightly more juvenile and may not work as well for 10 year olds as they would for 5 year olds. But they can be great fun and help pass the time nicely!

Big Jenga (Or Other Big Board Games)

Also known as “Giant Tumbling Timbers”, this is a game that kids and adults will enjoy! No one will be able to resist watching, even if they don’t chose to play. The tension, the excitement as the tower grows, the noisy clatter as it finally falls… Jenga is always a fun go. Check out this and/or other outdoor game ideas over at Best Outdoor Yard Games.

Pin The Tail On The Donkey

The classic birthday game. Of course it does not have to be a donkey and a tail. It can be the nose on a clown, the hat on a fireman, the tiara on a princess, or whatever your child is interested in (and that you can draw/print out).

Donuts On A String

My mom used to play this game with us more often at parties… it’s a riot! You need donuts (or cookies) that have holes in the middle to start. Loop them on strings, and then tie those strings at intervals along a clothesline or rope you string. The donuts will then be hanging chest height or so for the kids. On your mark, challenge the kids to, with their hands behind their backs, race to gobble down a donut without it falling to the ground.

Balloon Fun

Yes, you’ll be spending a good chunk of time blowing them up (and possibly feel a bit light headed for a while), but a cheap bag of balloons can provide a LOT of fun. Balloon darts or “Pop the balloon without using your hands” type games are always fun to watch. You can do points for certain colors popped, put a tiny treat inside them… there are lots of things you can do. My favorite right now is a balloon race, where you have two teams with 10-12 balloons each. 4 of the balloons have clues on slips of paper inside them. The kids race to pop balloons without using their hands until they find all four, then use the clues to solve a mystery (treasure hunt).

Water Guns 

Boys and water guns. Pretty much enough said. Hit up your local dollar store and buy a bunch of cheap water guns. Set up a simple refill station (kiddie pool?), help them decide on the rules (always important for boys), and let them at ‘er! Half way through the game, run out with your own Super Soaker 5000 and show them who is REALLY boss. 😉  Or toss a wack of sponges into the water and start throwing them around.

Related to that, there’s always the water balloon fight idea. Have you seen those cool “blow up a hundred mini water balloons in 10 seconds” things? Amazing! Good fun for sure, but make sure you get the kids to help gather the balloon bits afterwards… that isn’t something you want to do on your own.

Bubble Refill Station

Young kids especially love bubbles. And if you can have some interesting wands or bubble blowers available, and a seemingly endless supply of bubble solution at a refill station such as the one pictured here (from LaLas Home Day Care), you’ll have a group of smiling, happy (and perhaps a wee bit slippery) kids.

Painting or Doing A Messy Craft

girl painting intricate woodwork

Kids painting is always a messy business, so why not set up everything outside? You may want to warn the parents of the kids invited that you’ll be painting, and request that they send old clothes or a paint shirt along. Most parents will be THRILLED that someone ELSE is going to take on the mess of painting with their kids haha… they’ll be happy to comply! Again, a dollar store or Walmart will be helpful in gathering some supplies. Tips we’ve learned along the way: buy a plastic disposable table cloth, squirt out paint colors on paper plates that can be disposed afterwards (don’t need to be cleaned), give each child their own paper plate with paint colors and their own water bucket (stops fights about mixed colors), and have something “interesting” to paint (not “just” paper… think wooden items, rocks, plaques, canvases, etc.)

Yarn Trail

This will take a fair bit of work ahead of time, but honestly, how cool would it be for kids to have to do a “follow your color yarn to your treat bag” type activity? If you have 8 kids, buy 8 big skeins of yarn that are all different colors. One at a time, wind the string all over and around the yard, ending up in a hiding spot where they can find a treat bag. Each child takes one color yarn and follows the trail! There’s a similar idea here at Oh Happy Day.



And that’s the ideas for today! Let me know if you have others to add, or if I helped rescue your party planning with one or more of these ideas. Have a great day celebrating your child’s big day with these backyard birthday activities for kids!


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