For dads, big parties mean a big crowd of kids. And let us admit, we all want to be the fun dad our kids’ friends will love. And when we’re hosting a party, it means we need some games up on our sleeves. Hosting outdoor games for large groups of kids while ensuring everyone is safe is a big task. However, the biggest challenge is picking the game everyone will enjoy.
In this post, I personally listed some of the games I hosted on my kids’ parties as well as some we have tried on family gatherings. Watch out, though, because some parents are about to be competitive!
Hide and Seek
For dads hosting outdoor games for the first time, we’ll start with the classic Hide and Seek. This is the perfect game for those with large yards and garden. The dad will be the seeker and the other kids will look for a place to hide while you count to 100 (it could be 50 for a shorter game).
The last kid to be found will be the winner of the round. This is a versatile game so you can go on and on with as many rounds as the kids will wish.
One caution about this game, though. Make sure that your yard doesn’t have sharp objects or anything that will endanger a child. Also, it’s best if other parents are watching over to prevent accidents. And if the house is included in the game, make sure that you lock some doors you don’t want to be accessed.
Usually, this game appeals to kids ages 3 to 12. If you want the tweens to be involved, you can try other games on this list.
If Hide and Seek is a little too dull for the youngsters, your next best bet is Hep-Hep, Hooray. Like Hide and Seek, this game doesn’t require any preparation or props.
As the host, you will be the one to shout “Hep-Hep!” and “Hooray!”.
When you shout “Hep-Hep!”, the kids should clap twice between their thighs. For “Hooray!”, they should put their hands in the air. Anyone who makes the wrong action will be eliminated from the game.
The trick here is to keep saying “Hep-Hep!” and “Hooray!” while pointing to a specific kid. This adds thrill and uncertainty to the game. It also makes this game tricky since the kids will have to practise excellent hand-eye coordination.
This is a simple game that almost any dad can pull off. Even the younger kids and parents would have fun in this game. For the winner, you can prepare some small prizes.
Musical chairs are one of the classic birthday party games. I’ve brought my kids to a lot of birthday parties, and this one doesn’t lose its charm.
For this game, you need to arrange chairs in a circle with the seats facing outward. The chairs should be one fewer than the number of players.
Once the chairs are all set, a song will be played (preferably an upbeat kiddie song). When the music stops, every kid should secure a seat to stay in the game. The player who didn’t get a chair will be out (beware, lots of crying here).
The game continues with one chair removed for every round. The last player with a chair wins this game.
Most of the time, this game is played indoors, but you can host a larger one outdoors. Just watch out for falling kids as well as petty fights that are about to break.
If you want kids to stay busy during the game, you can try the Scavenger Hunt. For this game, you need to prepare ahead since you need to hide several items.
Before the game, you should have a list of the items you hid somewhere in your yard. Also, you should prepare written clues which should be tailored to the age of the kids who are playing. It could be a riddle or direct instructions.
You should set a time limit for the hunt. Also, you should give each player a clue as the start of the game. And typical to a scavenger hunt, the players should work as a team.
The team with the most items found wins the round. Make sure that you have a tiebreaker in case both sides found all the items before the time ends.
Keep in mind that you should choose safe spots when hiding items. Consider the height of the child, and if he or she is physically able to retrieve the items.
Just like the Musical Chairs, the Freeze Dance is a staple game on many kids’ parties. It’s a simple game with no needed props. You just have to play music and pause it abruptly. The kids would have to freeze in their last pose. Anyone who cracks up or moves will be removed from the game before the song is played again. The last kid who will remain at poise would be the winner.
You can do this game indoors and outdoors since it’s fairly simple to host. It’s also a safe choice of game for kids, especially if there are very young ones who can’t participate in hide and seek or scavenger hunt.
The charm of this game lies in the music you will play. We recommend choosing one that the kids love so that the game will remain appealing. Also, it’s best to reveal the prize even before the game starts, so the kids will be eager to win.
Bees and Butterflies
The bees and butterflies is a fun game where the kids will run around and work as a team. For this game, you need two soft objects to be used as stingers. You will give these stingers to two players. You can ask two adults to be the stingers, so all the kids will join. This is one of the best outdoor games for large groups of kids if you have a large yard.
The goal of the two bees is to sting the butterflies by hitting their legs with the soft object. When a butterfly gets stung, he or she has to freeze on the spot.
The tagged butterfly can only go back to the game if two untagged butterflies link their hands to surround the former. They will then bring the tagged butterfly to a centre area where the bees can’t enter. You have to designate this area before the game. Also, the butterflies escorting the tagged butterflies can’t be tagged.
The tagged butterfly that has been successfully placed in the designated area should count up to five loudly before going back on the game. Take note that the designated area is only for the healing of the tagged butterfly and not as a hiding place for a sneaky player.
This game will end once all the butterflies have been stung or if the kids are already tired.
Belt Loop Ball
The Belt Loop Ball game is ideal for huge kid crowds. You have to divide the kids into teams of 10 players where they have to compete within the team to win the game.
You need a 15-feet long rope, 1 soccer ball, 2 ping pong balls, and shorts with belt loops to play this game.
Before the game, each team should tread the rope into the belt loops of their shorts or pants. After that, two players within the team will be handed the ping pong balls. The goal here is for the team to guide the soccer ball from the starting area into the other side of the playing area.
The trick here is that only those holding the ping pong balls can kick the ball. And as the host of the game, you can shout “Switch!” and the holders of the ping pong balls will pass it to other members of their team.
You can let the teams practise first before holding competitions. This is a pretty long game and suitable for older kids of about 8 to 12 years old. We don’t recommend bringing toddlers into the teams because they are too small to keep up.
Bom, Bom, Bom
The Bom, Bom, Bom game involves two teams. The good thing here is that there are no limits on how many players each team will have. It’s much like charades but with a twist. Instead of acting out words, the players will have to act out different occupations.
For this game, you need to write down occupations on small pieces of paper contained in a bowl. To start the game, huddle each team on opposing sides.
You can choose the team to start the game. Once ready, the first team will yell “Bom, Bom, Bom, here we come!”
The other team will answer: “where did you come from?”
The first team answers back: “Pretty girl’s station!”
The other will respond: “It could be anything!”
Lastly, the guessing team will say “Get to work!”
This last line is the cue for the first team to start acting out the occupation. It could be a mechanic, painter, teacher, driver, and so on. If the guessing team guessed the occupation properly, the acting team should hurry back to their home base to prevent being tagged by the guessing team. If no one got tagged, the first team would do the acting again.
If you want to keep things simple, you can try the relay race. You can set up some chairs to serve as obstacles with a pre-determined path.
For the relay, you can try relaying a piece of blueberry using a spoon. It can be tucked between the lips or held by hand. The team that finishes the relay the fastest wins the game.
You can also modify the relay race depending on the age of the players and the size of your yard.
As a dad, I can say that this is one of the fun games with the least crying, especially if you’re dealing with post-toddler years.
You can give prizes for the winners, and you can even buy some medals or small trophies for fun. If you’re hosting tweens, cash prizes would be very appealing.
Cat and Mouse
For the Cat and Mouse game, you need ample space. There’s no specific number of players required, but around 12 will do.
To start the game, ask all the players except two to form a circle. Make sure that they are standing as far away as possible from each other with arms stretched wide. The two players you set aside earlier would be the cat and mouse.
The goal is for the cat to catch the mouse. If the cat or mouse enters one of the spaces between the players, that space closes by asking the players to move shoulder to shoulder. With this, more and more spaces will close as the cat chases the mouse.
However, if either the cat or mouse gets trapped inside the circle, the player outside wins. If both the cat and mouse got stuck, the players in the circle would count to ten as a chance for the cat to catch the mouse. If the cat succeeded in catching the mouse, the cat player wins —otherwise, the mouse reigns.
Crows & Cranes
For this game, you need to divide the kids into two teams with an equal number of players. One of the teams will be the Crows, and the other would be the Cranes.
Each team will fall into a straight line facing each other on opposing sides. You should set a home base for each team before starting the game.
As the leader dad, you will stand at the end of the line at the centre so every kid will see you. You can call “Crows” first, which means that the Crows would chase after the Cranes. The goal is for the Cranes not to get tagged in the process by heading to their base as fast as possible. If any of the Cranes got tagged, they would become Crows and vice versa.
The game goes on and on until one team runs out of players.
Take note that this involves a lot of running, so you need a large yard or court to host this. Also, watch out for potential falls, especially with very young players.
If the relay race gets boring fast, you can try the sack race instead. You need two sacks, one for each team. The same with the relay race, you should set up obstacles like chairs and markers. The goal of the players is to reach the other side without running over the obstacles or falling to the ground.
We’ve tried sack race before, and since we have young kids, we made them wear motorcycle helmets. It’s hilarious and every parent had fun.
Again, the fastest team to finish the sack relay wins the game. Make sure that the players are hopping with their two feet at the same time and not walking with it.
Also, check the area first for sharp objects that may hurt the kids should they fall on the ground. I recommend that you host this game on a grassy surface for added safety.
If you’re holding a party at a large field or turf, the Hostage game would be a fun choice. You need ample space to designate bases as well as an area for the players to run around.
For this game, you need the group of kids into two teams. Each team should designate a ‘hostage’ that they will need to save from the other team. The hostages will be exchanged between each team and hidden in an area on the base.
The goal of each team is to rescue their hostage from the other side. Each team member will try to outwit the other side by running and sneaking into the spot where the hostage is located.
When the hostage is rescued, he or she must go back to the team’s base without being tagged by the hostage-taking team. If the hostage got tagged again, that player would be taken back to the base, and the game goes on and on.
To win this game, one of the teams should free the hostage successfully or tag as many members of the opposing team as possible.
Kick the Can
The Kick the Can game has similarities to hide and seek. The main difference is that there’s a can which should be placed in a circle near the “jail” which you will designate.
The game will start with one player kicking the can. There should be a player designated as “it” who will put the can back in its place.
Once the player kicks the can, everyone will run and hide. The “it” then looks for the other players. If the “it” spots a player, he or she needs to call the player’s name out loud and bring that player to jail.
Other players can sneak to kick the can while the “it” is looking for other players. When another player kicks the can without being caught by the “it”, the jailed players will be back to the game.
The first person to be put to jail will be the next “it”.
Doggy, Doggy, Where’s Your Bone
Lastly, I recommend the Doggy, Doggy, Where’s Your Bone. This is a very easy game with no props needed. You will pick one child to be the “Doggy”. The “Doggy” will turn around while one of the players steals the “bone”. It could be any object available.
The “Doggy” then turns around and will try to guess who stole the bone. All the players will try to look guilty to confuse the “Doggy”.
If you’re playing with older kids, you can impose a limit to the number of guesses.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What should I consider before picking outdoor games for kids?
A: Before hosting any game, make sure that it’s suitable for the age of the participants. Also, factor in the personality of the guests as well as the nature of the gathering. For kids’ parties, you need games that have quick results.
Q: What will I do if other parents suddenly become competitive?
A: It can sometimes happen where some parents become competitive when their children are playing a game. If someone tends to do so, choose games that are more fun than competitive. Also, remind the adults that it’s just for fun.
Q: I only have a small backyard, what games can I host with many kids?
A: Kids love running around, so having a small backyard can be challenging. Still, there’s a workaround for this. Choose games that don’t involve a lot of running and chasing. The likes of Hep Hep Hooray, Doggy, Doggy, Where’s Your Bone, and Freeze Dance might work for you.
Q: Is a wet yard dangerous for kids to play on?
A: If your yard is covered with grass, there’s less chance that a kid will slip. However, it will really make them muddy and messy. Beware of wet pavement because it can be pretty slippery and dangerous for an energetic child.
Q: What are the best outdoor games for kids for dads on a budget?
A: It doesn’t take much to entertain a group of young kids. Above, I listed 15 of the best games you can try. The likes of Freeze Dance, Musical Chairs, Hide and Seek, Cat and Mouse, and Elbow Tag have zero to little preparation. All you need are some small rewards to give the winners.
Outdoor games for large groups of kids can turn a boring party into a fun experience. Just make sure that you pick the games suitable for the child’s age as well as the size of the crowd. The bonus part is you get to look like the coolest dad.