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Quirky garden games for all the family

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Brighter evenings, a changing season and plenty of long weekends means that more people will be leaving the house to take part in outdoor activities, and what better place to do so than your own garden?

Whether your garden is huge or modest, there are plenty of fun activities that children and adults alike can take part in and help to make the most of the fresh air and warmer temperatures.

Each of these games is suitable for anything from two to two dozen players, so perfect for parties or simply a spare hour on an evening.  

Burst the balloon

This starts with every player tying a balloon to their ankle using a piece of string, and then running around the garden, attempting to pop other players’ balloons using only their feet. The person with the last intact balloon is the winner.

Duvet cover drag races

If you have a couple of spare duvet covers that are normally used for decorating or are simply taking up room in a bottom drawer, take them outside and lay them on the ground side-by-side, with the finish line a set distance away. Teams of two players then decide who will sit on the blanket and who will be responsible for dragging it to the finish line. Depending on the number of participants, amount of duvet covers and strength of the participants, you can have heats and a final, or simply one race with multiple participants, with the winners being the first to drag their partner (while still on the sheet) to the finish.

Ten-pin bottle bowling

Bring all the fun of the bowling alley to your lawn by lining up ten plastic bottles in a triangular formation at the end of a ‘lane’. Take it in turns to roll a football/basketball/wheel of cheese down the lane and score the match as you would a normal game of bowling, with strikes/spares gaining extra prizes. Even when the sun goes down, the fun doesn’t need to stop – simply put glow stick in the bottles and aim for that elusive turkey. Ridiculously unfashionable bowling shoes optional.

Ladder bean bag bonanza

Take the stepladder out of the shed and place it in the garden with a firm footing, then mark each of the rungs up to the top with a point value, ranging from ten for the widest one at the bottom, to 50 for the very top rung. Then take it in turns to throw bean bags from a set distance away, and keep track of your score. After everyone has had three, five or ten turns, the person with the highest score is the winner.

The frozen t-shirt race

If you’ve ever tried to get dressed in the dark, you’ll be aware of how challenging putting on a t-shirt can actually be, but this takes things to the next level. Everyone takes an old t-shirt and saturates it with water in the sink, then freezes it overnight. The following day, everyone takes the t-shirt out of the fridge and then races to put it on as quickly as possible, with the winner declared only when they are actually wearing it like a t-shirt, and not a cape or bandana. Probably one for a hot day, but guaranteed fun.

Marble toes

If you have a bag of marbles and have never known what to do with them, now is their time to shine, with a game that will push your dexterity to its limits. Fill a bowl with water and place ten marbles in the bottom of it. Everyone then has 60 seconds to retrieve as many marbles as possible, but here’s the catch – you can only use your feet. The winner is the person who retrieves the most marbles in a minute or – if more than one person completes the challenge – the person who collects ten in the fastest time.

Match the cards

A great educational activity for younger children, this follows the template of a tabletop card matching game but rolls it out on a wide scale. Draw pictures on - or print off - 12 pairs of matching cards, then jumble them all up and place them face down on the lawn. Children then take it in turns to turn over two random cards. If they get a match, they have another return, while cards that don’t match means their turn is over. The child with the most matching cards when they have all been turned over is the winner, but to avoid disappointment there’s always the chance of a six-all draw.


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