16 Best Picnic Games

16 Best Picnic Games

Picnics give families and friends an excuse to spread a picnic blanket out on the grass and sprawl out in the sun. Kids can run around and climb trees while the adults sit and snack on cheese and crackers. This article provides 16 of the best picnic party games.

 Picnic Games infographic


1. Bocce Ball 

Bocce ball is one of the best outdoor games and is perfect for picnics. You can use it as a casual outdoor event at a family reunion or as a game for a company picnic. Both kids and adults can participate, and it takes little to no effort to set up. As long as you have a bocce ball kit, you're ready to play.  

A bocce ball kit comes with nine balls. You should have four red balls and four blue balls (the colors may vary), and one small white ball called the Pallino. Teams choose one color and then take turns rolling their balls towards the Pallino. Teams can roll, bounce, or toss their balls towards the Pallino but can only throw the ball underhand. Teams are also allowed to hit balls thrown by the other team to move the opponent's ball out of a winning spot. 

The ball closest to the Pallino earns a point for the team. Only one point is awarded each round. A typical game of bocce ball is played until one of the teams reaches 12 points.  

bocce ball

2. Twister 

Twister is a fun game for kids, teenagers, and adults. It's both challenging and hilarious, and the players attempt to twist and hold their bodies in various poses. Best of all, Twister is a great exercise while lengthening and strengthening your body. 

To play Twister, you will need a Twister mat. The mat has alternating blocks of colored patches. Additionally, the game comes with a spin dial.  

All players should stand next to the mat while someone who's not participating spins the dial. The pointer will land on a color and body part. For example, a possible combination is "left foot on red." Everyone will have to reach out and put their left foot on a red dot. The spinner spins the dial again: "right hand on blue." Everyone must reach out and put their right hand on blue. This is where the game gets tricky.  

Players can't move their hands or feet from a dot until the dial says to move it. If a player falls or moves their hand or foot off one of the dots, they're eliminated. The last player left wins the game. 

twister game

3. Horseshoes 

Everyone, including grandparents and toddlers, can join together to play horseshoes. As long as the players can throw a horseshoe with a semblance of accuracy, they're welcome to join in the fun. Traditionally, horseshoes is a game between two people. However, as a picnic game, expand the rules to accommodate two teams. For picnic games, remember not to take horseshoes too seriously—instead, focus on bonding between team members. 

Set up the horseshoe game using a horseshoe kit, then take turns throwing the horseshoe at the stakes. If someone lands the horseshoe on the stake (called a ringer), they earn three points. If no one lands a ringer, the closest horseshoe earns one point.  

The game is simple, and everyone should take turns throwing for their team. Have fun, and don't get too caught up in earning points. 

horseshoe game

4. Potato Sack Race 

A sack race is a great game for kids at your picnic activity; adults are also more than welcome to participate! To play, you will need a potato sack for every person who will be running the race. Create a starting line and a finish line, and prepare a prize for the race winner.  

Hand out a potato sack to each of the kids, helping them climb into the sack. Show the kids how to hold the potato sack up, so it doesn't droop down while they're trying to hop to the finish line.  

When everyone is ready, count down from three and then shout, "Go!" All the kids will take off in their potato sacks, running and hopping down the field. It's a hilarious activity to participate in as everyone struggles to keep their balance. 

potato sack race

5. Spoon Race

Spoon races are a classic picnic game that everyone will enjoy. One of the most common versions of a spoon race is using a raw egg. The kids line up and balance a raw egg in the curve of the spoon. The kids then have to race from the start line to the finish line without dropping the egg. You can also turn this into a relay race by splitting the kids into small teams. 

If you don't want to use raw eggs, you can also use water balloons. Instead of balancing the egg on a spoon, balance a water balloon. This version of the spoon race has less of a mess and won't leave raw egg all over the grass. Just remember to pick up the rubber balloon mess before you leave the park. 

spoon race

6. Cornhole

Cornhole is easy to set up and easy to learn. It's also great for any gathering, including picnic parties, family reunions, or the first of many picnic activities.   

To play cornhole, you will need two cornhole boards and eight bean bags (four for each team). Each team can have up to four players on it in this informal version of cornhole. In competitive cornhole, only two people play in a one on one game.  

One team starts by tossing their cornhole bean bag at the board facing them. If the bean bag falls into the hole, the team gets three points. If the bean bag lands on the board, the team receives one point. However, if a second bean bag toss knocks another bean bag into the hole, both bags get three points, even though the first originally only got one point.  

The teams take turns tossing the bean bags back and forth until all bean bags have been thrown. At the end of the round, both teams count up the points. The first team to 21 points wins the game. 

Again, since this is at a family picnic, feel free to modify the rules. Traditional cornhole is played with the boards 27 feet apart; if you're playing with younger children, move the boards closer together to make it easier for them to score. 


7. Real-Life Angry Birds 

For this game, you will need a variety of materials and time to set up the game, including cardboard boxes, balloons, and small rubber balls. This game is fun for both kids and adults, though kids might get the most fun out of the game.  

Angry Birds is a fun phone game where the player throws birds at pigs trapped between blocks. The goal is to knock all of the pigs out of the structure. For real-life Angry Birds, you'll combine these aspects to create a fun, entertaining game for kids.   

To set up this game, start by stacking cardboard boxes and trapping balloons between the boxes. If you're creative, draw pig faces on the balloons similar to the pigs in Angry Birds. Once the boxes are set up, line up the children several paces away. You don't want it to be too easy to throw the ball at the boxes and knock the entire thing over.  

Give each child a ball and have them throw the balls at the boxes one at a time, instructing them to aim at the balloons. Once they've knocked all the balloons out of the tower, they win. You can set up the game again or move onto a new game. 

angry birds game

8. Picnic Basket Race 

For the picnic basket race, you will need a picnic basket for each team. The picnic baskets don't need to be traditional and can simply be cheap baskets sold at the convenience store. You will also need food items traditionally brought to a picnic.  

Teams will have all of the food items lain out before them, and they have to pack the items into the basket as quickly as possible and then run across the field to a finish line. If an item falls out of the basket, the team must return to the starting line and rerun the field. The first team to get to the finish line wins. 

9.  Water Balloon Dodgeball  

Water balloon dodgeball is one of the best picnic games for the summertime. All you will need are willing participants and a bucket or two full of water balloons.  

Set up two teams with a diving line between the teams. Both teams will have a bucket full of water balloons. On a count of three, the teams will grab balloons and try to throw them at the other team. If someone is hit with a water balloon and the water balloon breaks, they're eliminated. The team with the last person standing wins.  

Water balloon dodgeball is a sure way to entertain every person at the picnic. The water from the water balloons will keep all the kids cool as they splash each other with water. The adults watching from a safe distance will be able to laugh as the kids dodge, spin, and duck their way into becoming the dodgeball champion. 

water balloon dodgeball

10. Sand Volleyball 

One of the best games for both kids and adults is sand volleyball. Many parks have a sand volleyball court--all you need to bring is the volleyball. Sand volleyball is played the same as regular volleyball. Instead of playing on a hard gym floor, the court is on a sandpit, making it easier for players to dive without scraping their knees. 

Sand volleyball can have up to 12 players simultaneously, with a line rotating in and out on both sides of the court. Because so many people can participate at the same time, sand volleyball is the perfect game for both large and small gatherings. If the picnic is small, condense the courts and use teams of four on both sides.  

Picnic participants, both young and old, will love playing sand volleyball as a way to relax and bond with friends. 

sand volleyball

11. Nine Square 

A must-have for any picnic is Nine Square. Nine Square is a unique combination of four square and volleyball, creating a game that feels familiar and challenging at the same time. The Nine Square court is a three by three court lifted above the players' heads. The poles are adjustable, meaning that you can adjust the court's height for young kids or make it taller for adults.  

To play, you will need a Nine Square court and a rubber ball. Players gather in the square, starting in square number one at the bottom corner. The position spiral upward, with the middle position as position number nine (the King/Queen square). The middle square serves the ball by hitting the ball up over their head and into another square.  

Similar to four square, if someone misses the ball or breaks one of the rules, that player is eliminated, and the remaining players move up to fill their place. A new player from the line joins in the lowest square, now made vacant. 

Because Nine Square is a unique game, players can choose to follow traditional game rules or create their own rules to better fit the group. Either way it makes a great picnic icebreaker

9-square picnic game

12. Bubbles

Even adults love to blow bubbles. Bubbles are an easy, fun, and entertaining part of picnic parties. Encourage every family attending the picnic to bring a variety of bubbles. Some bubbles come in colors like blue, pink, or orange, while other bubble kits can create massive bubbles.  

Having a wide variety of bubbles will encourage the kids to have endless fun as they create new games with their new bubbles. Adults can also have fun with bubbles and feel like they're kids again as everyone runs around creating fun shapes and designs with bubbles.  

When bringing bubbles to a park, make sure that you use an environmentally friendly formula, especially if the park is near a river, stream, or lake. 


13. Ring Toss 

Hosting a ring toss at your picnic is a great way to get a whole group of people engaged with encouraging strong competition. It's a game that feels more like a carnival game with prizes for landing the most rings. Both young kids and older adults can have fun participating in a ring toss.  

To host a ring toss event, all you will need are stakes and rings. Set the stakes at varying distances and then bring the group over. Give out points to certain stakes and encourage everyone to throw the rings at the stakes.  

Whoever lands the most rings wins a prize. You can also split the group into age groups so that several people win prizes. 

ring toss

14. Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest 

Always hold the watermelon seed spitting contest before you bring out the rest of the picnic food. Give everyone a few slices of watermelon and have them spit out the seeds on a plate. After everyone has at least ten seeds, start the contest.  

Line up the group on an equal line, and bring young kids a few steps higher. One by one, have everyone spit out a seed and make the furthest seed. Do several rounds of this, continuing to mark the seed spit the farthest. After everyone has finished spitting their seeds, reward the person who has the furthest seed. 

This activity is simple, fun, and hilarious. Everyone will have fun spitting their seeds as far as they can. 

watermelon seed contest

15. Red Light, Green Light

Red Light, Green Light is a classic game meant for all occasions. It's popular at parties, in elementary school gym class, and at recess. 

To play Red Light, Green Light, line up all the kids on a starting line. Once everyone has lined up, say, "Green light!" All the kids will then run as fast as they can. Then, should, "Red light!" All of the kids have to stop. If anyone moves after the red light, they have to return to the starting line. The first kid to make it to the end wins.  

Adults can also participate in Red Light, Green Light with younger toddlers. Red Light, Green Light is a great way to have fun in a large group.  

red light green light game

16. Gaga Ball

Gaga Ball is an excellent game choice for family picnics, providing endless fun and engagement for all ages. This fast-paced, inclusive game combines elements of dodgeball and tag, but with a twist. Its low impact nature and simple rules make it accessible to everyone, regardless of fitness level or skill. Gaga Ball promotes active participation, strategic thinking, and friendly competition, fostering a sense of teamwork and camaraderie among family members. With its compact size and minimal equipment requirements, it can be set up easily in any outdoor space. Whether you're a young child or a grandparent, Gaga Ball guarantees laughter, excitement, and memorable moments for the entire family.


Other Ideas 

Because there are so many fun picnic activities perfect for every outdoor event, we’ve created a short list of additional ideas. Here are more games that you can consider for your next outdoor party game: 

  • Lawn Bowling
  • Large Checkers 
  • Frisbee Golf 
  • Beach Ball Toss 
  • Glow Stick Tag 
  • Hula Hoop Race

It’s important to have fun at your picnic party. Make sure to pick games that everyone will enjoy!

frisbee golf
16 Best Picnic Games

Ian Boggess

About the Author

Ian has been with Castle Sports for the last 4 years. He loves designing games for fitness and activity that get the whole group involved.

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