If you’re lucky enough to have an apartment with a yard – or even a spacious patch of pavement – don’t let the summer slip away without taking full advantage of it. Invite some friends over and host a day of yard sports; if you’re the competitive type, make teams and set up a tournament with prizes for the winners.
These 10 games will make for the ultimate backyard decathlon:
- Bags: Also known as cornhole in some states, this popular tailgate game is fun for all ages. Buy a premade set at stores like Sports Authority, Walmart and Bed Bath & Beyond, or make your own using plywood for the boards and sturdy fabric and dry beans for the bags. Played in teams of two, bags tossed into the hole are worth three points, and bags that land on the board are worth one.
- Ladder/Bolo toss: Another tailgate staple, this game involves throwing “bolas” (essentially a piece of rope with a tennis or golf ball at each end) and getting them to wrap around the rungs of the other team’s ladder. Teams of two take turns and get three points for the top rung, two points for the middle and one point for the bottom.
- Bocce ball: Involving less setup than croquet, bocce ball can be played almost anywhere. Buy a set at Target or on Amazon.com and play head to head or with teams of up to four players each. One person throws the jack (small ball), which becomes the target for all the other players. The team that gets closest to the jack wins the points and throws the jack next.
- Frisbee: This game can be as basic as throwing the disc back and forth, or made more challenging with specific targets or increased distances. If you have a big space or a park nearby, set up your own Frisbee golf course for some true competition.
- Flip cup: Though usually played with beer, kids and nondrinkers can also partake in this college throwback using water. Two teams line up across from each other at a long table with a plastic cup filled about one-fourth of the way for each player. The first person on each side drinks, taps the cup on the table and flips it until it lands on its brim, which signals the next person’s turn. The team that finishes first wins.
- Beer or water pong: Also a college classic, this game can be played using the same table as flip cup. Teams of two stand at either end with six cups in a triangle shape in front of them. Fill the cups halfway with water, beer, or just leave them empty. Take turns throwing ping pong balls into the other teams’ cups; the team that makes them all first is the winner (and the losers have to drink the rest of the beer, if you’re playing the college way).
- Mini golf: Set up your own putt-putt course using weighted cups laid on their sides. You can use household items like shoes, textbooks, toilet paper rolls and rulers to create obstacles and embankments throughout the course.
- Shuffleboard: With a little sidewalk chalk, anyone can make their own shuffleboard court on a driveway or sidewalk. If you don’t want to shell out for the real equipment, just use a couple of brooms and some Frisbees for the pucks. Each puck is worth 7-10 points, or negative 10 points, depending where it lands.
- Badminton: If your landlord is OK with you putting stakes in the ground, test out your badminton skills with a basic set from Dick’s Sporting Goods or Target. If not, you can still play with just the racquets and birdies and use the bolo toss ladders as your net.
- Lawn darts: They don’t make the metal-tipped kind anymore, but you can get a new rubber set at Walmart for about $15. The set includes four darts, two target rings and instructions. To start, players toss the dart underhand toward a target – usually a plastic ring. Every time the dart makes it inside the target, the player gets a point!