When friends get together, it can be a challenge to find a game that everyone will enjoy. Unfortunately, what sometimes happens is that each person pulls out an electronic gadget and does their own thing. This article provides multiple ideas for fun games to play with friends inside and outside, on a sunny day and when it is cold or rainy, and with a just one or two friends or a large group. Use these games at parties, sleepovers – any time you get together with your friends.
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Fun Games to Play with Friends Outside
Capture the Flag
An active and engaging game, capture the flag remains a kids’ favorite. Divide your group into two teams. Each team defends their “flag,” which can be any object while trying to copy the other team’s flag. If a player gets tagged by a member of the opposing team, they are either out of the game, or you can decide that person is frozen until tagged by a member of their own team. The teams that captures the flag wins the game.
Set up an obstacle course outside with common yard objects, such as lawn chairs, garden hoses, and picnic tables. Have players walk, jump, hop, etc. while running the course. Keep track of completion times and see who completes the course the fastest.
Freeze tag takes a lot of energy and works best for a large group. The person who is “It” tags the other players at which point they are frozen and can only be unfrozen when tagged by someone else. You can also play music while the game is being played and everyone must freeze when the music stops.
Alternatively, someone must go between the legs of a frozen player to unfreeze them. For a very large group have more than one person be “It.”
Keep some small items from your local dollar store on hand for a backyard, scavenger hunt. Hide the items making a list of where they are located so you can make sure all are found. Provide the players a list of items with hints, such as, “Small, green, and has wheels” (a toy car) or “Round and red” (a small bouncy ball). The player who finds the most items wins the game. For a larger group, pair up the players or divide players into teams.
Purchase inexpensive inflatable balls for this game. Use at least three, but you can use more if you wish. The object of the game is to keep the balls in the air. To do so, players may use any part of the body. However, they cannot hang on to the ball. Players scatter over the playing area and a ball is tossed into the air. The objective is to keep the ball in the air using any part of the body. Count how many times the balls hit the ground during a five-minute period of play. Each round, have the players try to have fewer misses.
Variation: Use balloons instead of balls.
Tug of War
The best Tug of War games occur when teams are evenly matched, not necessarily in age or size, but in ability of the entire team. You may find you must have ten smaller children on one end and five large kids on the other. Your game will last longer and be more fun with a bit of preparation.
An outdoor game kids never seem to tire of, balloon stomp, as the name implies, has as its object to stomp on the balloons attached to the ankles of the other players and pop them. Players may not touch the balloons with their hands or the grab the other players. Begin with enough inflated balloons for each player. Play fast music if you wish to set the tone of the game. The last person with an intact balloon wins the game. Blow up enough balloons to play several rounds if you want the game to last longer.
With the many varieties of relay races available, kids can play them for hours. Relay races foster teamwork, satisfy a desire for competition, and are great fun. Try one of the following kinds:
- Relay race with hardboiled eggs – team members are out when their egg drops.
- Simple tag relay races where the object is running fast.
- Dress up relay races – team members must dress and undress for each turn.
- Water bucket relay races – team members fill empty buckets on each turn and the team with the most water left at the end of the race wins.
Fun Warm Weather Games to Play with Friends That Use Water
Related article: 25+ Swimming Pool and Water Games
Water Balloon Toss
Form your group of kids into two teams and have them toss water balloons back and forth. The team with their balloon(s) left at the end of the game is the winner.
Tag is always fun and on a hot day, the addition of a sprinkler makes it even more so. In addition, it keeps everyone cool! Simply set up two garden sprinklers and you are ready to play. Divide the kids into two teams. Set a safe zone where players cannot be tagged and an out zone where tagged players must wait. The team with the most players left at the end of a set time wins.
Variation: Play Freeze Tag as Sprinkler Tag
Fun Games to Play with Friends Inside
Fill paper balls with items such as a piece of jewelry, a ribbon, a shoe, or a glove. Divide the kids into groups of three or four and give each a bag filled with at least five items. Allow ten to fifteen minutes to create a short play or skit using the props in the bag. When the kids are ready, they present their skit to the rest of the group.
Board Game Tournament
Simply pull out all the board games, set up play areas, and have a tournament with winners playing with winners. Alternatively, number the players and have all those with the same number play against each other and then mix the numbers up so everyone gets to play the games with different people.
Play board games. Drag out the Scrabble or the Yahtzee. You can hang out and play all sorts of games with large groups or small ones. Hold a tournament and compete against each other.
Group Storytime Game
Have all of your friends sit in a circle. Quickly write nouns down on slips of paper, one for each player, fold them up, and pass them out. Take turns incorporating the word each person has into a story. Give each person one minute for their part of the story. Some stories are really funny when told this way.
Watch Classic TV Shows
Ask an adult what TV shows they enjoyed when they were young and watch some on-line. Shows such as My Favorite Martian, Lucy, ALF, and Get Smart have some funny episodes.
Make Paper Airplanes
Provide paper, and markers or crayons for coloring. Look on-line for clever ways to fold paper airplanes. Then fly them and have contest to see whose plane goes the highest, fastest, straightest, etc.
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Have your friends find a partner and play Rock, Paper, Scissors. “Rock” is a fist, “Paper” is a flat hand, and “Scissors” uses the pointer and middle fingers like scissors. Players make a fist and shake it three times then choose either rock, paper, or scissors. Rock breaks scissors, scissors cut paper, and paper covers rock. Choose either three or five turns and whoever wins the most turns gets the first turn in a game or wins the competition.
Video Game Tournament
If your friends do not like board games, set up a video game tournament instead. Or set up the electronic game player and bowl, dance, or play music, whatever you and your friends enjoy.
Jacks is a very old American game originally played with stones. You and your friends can either play with stones or purchase jacks at a local dollar store. A jacks set includes six metal jacks, each with six points and a small ball. If you are playing with a ball, you bounce the ball and pick up jacks. If you are using stones, toss the stone in the air and catch it.
You can play jacks with one friend or many. Players take turns seeing how many jacks (stones) they can pick up. The following directions use a ball, but you can play the same with a stone, except instead of “bouncing” you will be tossing and catching.
- The first player tosses the small ball into the air, scatters the jacks from their other hand, and catches the ball after one bounce. Hopefully the jacks are not too far apart or too close. However they land, the player must play with them as they are.
- When you are playing, you must pick up the jacks and catch the ball with the same hand.
- A player can only touch the jacks they are picking up. If the player moves or touches a jack he is not picking up, his turn is over.
- A player only receives one try and if a mistake is make, the next player takes their turn.
- A turn must be repeated when a player makes a mistake and loses a turn.
Playing One Through Six Jacks
Players take turns attempting to be the first to pick up one jack, then two jacks, then three, etc. The first player must pick up all six jacks, one at a time. This player continues with “twosies,” “threesies,” etc. until they have managed to pick up all of the jacks all the way through “sixsies.” Remember, if the player messes up, or moves or touches a jack they are not picking up, the next player gets to take a turn. When a player loses a turn, they must start over. For example, if a player misses picking up five jacks at once, when their turn comes again, they must start on “fivesies” again.
- Onesies. A player bounces the ball while picking up one jack, then transfers the jack to the other hand and continues picking up one at a time until all are picked up successfully.
- Twosies. A player bounces the ball while picking up two jacks, transfers the jacks to the other hand, and repeats two more times until all six jacks are picked up.
- Threesies. A player picks up three jacks at a time and transfers them to the other hand, still on one bounce for each three.
- Foursies. A player picks up four jacks while bouncing a ball once, and then picks up the remaining two jacks with another bounce.
- Fivesies. A player picks up five jacks, and then the remaining jack.
- Sixsies. A player bounces the ball and picks up all six jacks at once.
How to Win Jacks
The player that manages to work their way to the end and picks up all six jacks on one bounce wins. Alternatively, even if it takes multiple turns for all players, the first person to pick up six jacks successfully wins.
- No Bounces. Pick up the jacks same as above, but fast enough the ball does not bounce – you catch it instead.
- Berries in a Basket. Cup one hand, throw the ball with the other hand, and place the jacks in the cupped hand.
- Double Bounces. A variation that works well for children with small hands, the ball bounces twice while the jacks are being picked up.
- Switch-up. Switch your hands to opposite from the one you normally throw the ball with. If you usually throw left handed, throw right handed; if you usually throw right handed, throw left handed.
Try any of the games we have listed next time your friends come over. Or, get on the phone and invite your friends over right now. With our collection of fun games to play with friends, you will never be bored!
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.