Family Games for Picnics

Gabrielle Applebury
Family playing picnic games

When you are out at a family picnic, playing games together can be a great way to foster bonding, encourage positive family interaction, and have some fun together. If your picnic area has large, open, flat areas of land, plan some games of skill that are fun for all ages.

Human Ringtoss Truth or Dare

This super active game is great for larger families to play together. Families are split into two teams, with a minimum of 10 players in total. All that you need for this game are 10 hula hoops, or one per person.

  1. The object of the game is to successfully throw your hula hoop around one of your teammates, who has volunteered to be the human ringtoss.
  2. Whichever team gets all of their hula hoops on their teammate first gets to ask the other team to answer either truth or dare.
  3. Each team member will need to answer the question or participate in the dare activity.

This game is great for all ages and makes for an entertaining way to enjoy a large family gathering. It is great exercise and always makes for a fun time after a picnic.

Red Light, Green Light Family Trivia

This fun game is a twist on the classic Red Light, Green Light.

  1. Prepare three to five family trivia cards per participant prior to heading out for your picnic.
  2. One person plays the role of the traffic light, noting "red light" for stop and "green light" for go.
  3. The other participants stand facing the traffic light and move according to the traffic light's commands.
  4. The person playing the traffic light turns around when giving the "green light" command, and the other players attempt to tag the traffic light. Whoever tags the traffic light first must correctly answer a family trivia card selected by the traffic light in order to take over the position.
  5. If not, they must move back three steps and the game continues.

This game can be played by kids of all ages, in large groups or small. It teaches great listening and rule-following skills. It also burns a lot of energy, so it is great for families looking to exercise or tire out rowdy little ones.

Would You Rather Hot Potato

This fun game takes just a little bit of prep. Purchase a beach ball and blow it up.

  1. Come up with 25 to 50 "would you rather" questions and write them all over the ball.
  2. You can play this game similar to catch, where everyone gets a fair amount of turns, or you can make it more challenging by incorporating hot potato rules.
  3. Using a timer or an hourglass, toss the ball around as quickly as you can. Whoever drops the ball or catches it when the timer runs out must answer one of the questions.

This game is fun to play with kids who are seven and older and works well in groups of at least four. This is a funny way to bond with members of your family while sharing lots of giggles together.

Chubby Bunny Dice

For this game, you will need two dice and a few bags of large marshmallows.

Boy holding marshmallow in his teeth
  1. The object of the game is to roll a matching set of dice.
  2. If you do not roll a matching set, you place one marshmallow in your mouth.
  3. The person who ends up with the most marshmallows in their mouth loses. The best part of this game is that losing tastes really good!

This is a great game for kids of all ages - under the proper supervision since dice are choking hazards. If you are playing with younger children, feel free to have them pair up with adults.

Hula Hoop Charades

For this activity, you will need at least one hula hoop per team. This game can be played in groups as small as six, but you can also enjoy it with a larger group.

  1. Split the teams up evenly and give each team a hula hoop.
  2. Whoever decides to go first on each team will meet with the game master to get the same charade clue.
  3. The game master will announce when the game has started, and whoever is acting out the clue must do so while hula hooping. If the hula hoop drops, you do not get the point.

This game is great for kids and adults of all ages. If you are playing with a really young child, you can alter the rules allowing them to do another activity with the hula hoop while they act out their clue. An adult or older child on their team can also sub in for them with the hula hooping aspect.

Glass Half Empty or Full

To play this game, you will need one plastic cup per person, a few jugs of water or access to a hose, one large bucket per team, and one blindfold per person. You can play this game in groups as small as eight, but it's extra fun in larger groups.

  1. Split the teams up evenly and assign two team captains who will be stationed at the large water buckets.
  2. Give everyone else a cup of water filled about halfway and a blindfold.
  3. The object of the game is for the blindfolded teammates to successfully make their way towards their team captain without spilling any of their water along the way and emptying their glass into the team's large bucket.
  4. Team captains are encouraged to shout helpful instructions to their teammates.
  5. Whichever team ends up with the most water wins.

The game can be played by kids and adults of all ages. To make the game progressively more challenging, you can have the blindfolded teammates carry the water with one hand, with their mouths, and with just their arms. Little ones can play without the blindfold but can engage in a tricky activity like hopping on one foot, skipping or walking backwards towards their team captain.

Scavenger Hunt Candy Crush

This is a great game for those who have a sweet tooth. You will need a few bags of large marshmallows, five large cups per team and a prepared scavenger hunt list. The scavenger hunt can be made easy or difficult depending on the ages of the kids playing.

  1. Split the teams up evenly and set up the cups in a line near each team.
  2. The object of the game is to complete your scavenger hunt before the other team does and successfully launch one marshmallow into each cup using only your mouth.

This game is great for kids of all ages and can be played in groups as small as four, with two on each team. Enjoy the leftover marshmallows as a sweet treat or bring s'mores supplies for a late night picnic snack.

Brainy Balloon Toss

To play this game, you will need one blown up balloon per person, a timer and trivia cards appropriate for the age group.

  1. Split the teams up evenly, and appoint one person per team as the trivia card reader.
  2. Each team will get one minute to answer their trivia questions, and they must keep all of their balloons up in the air while doing so.
  3. Whoever answers the most questions correctly wins.
  4. If any balloons drop, the team loses the rest of their time to answer questions.

This game works well for kids of all ages and can be played with beach balls to make it more challenging. If the kids you are playing with are really young, bring along some alphabet cards or animal recognition cards. Adults or older kids can be in charge of keeping the team's balloons up in the air while the youngest member answers questions.

Don't Drop the Ball

This game requires one ball per team and a timer. This can be played in groups as small as six.

Family playing Don’t Drop the Ball
  1. Split the teams up evenly.
  2. Starting off, each team will be positioned closely together and will toss the ball to each other for one full minute without stopping.
  3. The other team gets one opportunity, after the 30 second mark, to give their opponents a challenge.
  4. This might include jumping up and down, closing your eyes, running in place, or spinning in a circle while still trying to catch the ball. Teams can get creative about the challenges they want the other team to do while throwing the ball to each other.
  5. If the team drops the ball at any time, they are not awarded any points.
  6. After each round, the other team will get the opportunity to come up with challenges for their opponents while they toss the ball to each other.

This game works best for older kids but can be tweaked for younger children. If you are playing with really little ones, you can have them roll the ball to each other or have them stand closer together while tossing the ball.

Freeze Tag Trivia

This game works great for kids and adults of all ages, and can be tweaked accordingly depending on age group. This game is the most fun when played in larger groups. This game requires pre-made trivia cards and strong tape. You can make them yourself or buy some.

Children playing hide and seek freeze tag game outside
  1. To start have each player tape a trivia card to another player's back facing down.
  2. Have one person be "it."
  3. Whoever is "it" will give the other players 30 seconds to hide and get a head start.
  4. If you are tagged, you must freeze.
  5. If you answer your trivia card correct, you are unfrozen and will have 10 seconds to get away.
  6. The last non-frozen player will then become "it" and new trivia cards will be taped to the players' backs.

This is an awesome game to play with friends and family members. Because trivia cards can be customized, you can play with family trivia, general trivia, or use cards based on the age group. This is also a great way for school-aged children to study for an upcoming test or exam in a fun and active way.

Extreme Buddy Racing

This game works best for kids 10 and older, as well as adults. You will need twine or rope, one blindfold per team, and objects for the obstacle course. Set up something simple, with a few challenges such as run around the tree twice, or jump up and down ten times when you get to the gate. This game is best played in larger groups.

  1. Create teams of two and join your ankles together with the twine or rope. One team member must wear a blindfold.
  2. Appoint one person the judge.
  3. The judge will yell start and the teams must complete the obstacle course while being tied together.
  4. The first team to cross the finish line wins!

This game is fun to play and is a great way to facilitate lighthearted family bonding. Although it's not a great game for super young ones, they will still enjoy watching the older kids and grown ups acting silly.

Classic Games

These summer games have been around for a while because they are so much fun! These are great to play in small or large groups, and can be enjoyed by folks of all ages:

  • Horseshoes - All you need for this game are two stakes about 20 inches high and four metal horseshoes. Two teams of two players take turns tossing the horseshoes toward the stakes. Points are awarded for the horseshoes that are closest to the stake.
  • Croquet - This game requires a croquet set and is great for two or more players. This game takes a fair amount of coordination, focus and patience, so it would be best to play this with children who are 10 and older.
  • Hide and Seek - This favorite game can be played by groups large and small and with children of all ages.
Family playing hide and seek

Family Fun

Keep your family's customs and preferences in mind when planning outdoor games. Bring music along or enjoy the sounds of nature. Playing games at a picnic is a great way to connect with your family and have an awesome time together!

Family Games for Picnics