8 Lawn Games to Make For Summer Cookouts

Excerpt from DIY Backyard Games by Colleen Pastoor of Lemon Thistle

A number of years ago, I built my first set of DIY yard games with only a circular saw and a pack of sandpaper. I bribed friends with dinner to sit on my doorstep and sand the 54 (!) Jenga® pieces without a power sander insight. I was so proud of that set of games, which my family pulled out any time we were hosting a barbecue or backyard get-together. Fast forward to today, and I’ve made so many different yard games that practically every sunny summer weekend could feature a different one. Now I’m excited to share my favorite projects with you below and if you’re feeling adventurous come create along with me with the step-by-step process found in my new book, DIY Backyard Games.

Colleen Pastoor is the owner and creator of the popular DIY blog Lemon Thistle, where she shares DIY, home décor, and hand lettering ideas and tutorials. Colleen also teaches workshops in person and online. She has been featured in Country Sampler, Better Homes & Gardens, Redbook, Today’s Parent Magazine, Buzzfeed, and Country Living Online. To learn more about Colleen and her work, visit her website (www.LemonThistle.com), YouTube channel, Instagram (@ColleenPastoor), or Facebook page (@LemonThistleBlog).

Colleen Pastoor

Author of DIY Backyard Games

Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine

DIY Backyard Games

DIY Backyard Games is a step-by-step guide to building 13-yard games that are tons of fun for adults and kids alike. In the first section, I provide a foundation of knowledge for using various tools and materials and introduce you to some of the terminology you’ll
need to know; whether you’re brand new to power tools or you’ve made plenty of projects in the past, there’s something to learn. Each easy-to-follow project breaks down the materials, tools, and steps for
its creation in detail. Finally, after all the projects, I wrap it up with some suggestions on how to create even more games and some tips for turning those games into a side hustle.

10 Woodworking Projects – Outdoor Games for Kids and Adults

backyard games for kids


This is a simple game both to build and to play. It’s a game that my kids can play with their grandparents, and everyone always has a trick up their sleeve. Do you go for the corner-first strategy? Are you team center square or bust? You can customize this project however you like, making it as big or small as you choose. Find the step-by-step guide in DIY Backyard Games.

lawn games for adults


Have you ever played Speed Scrabble? It’s like normal Scrabble, but fast. Not a great definition? Okay, okay. It’s the kind of game that is lively and keeps you on your toes . . . but it’s still Scrabble, so it’s mentally stimulating. I love it, but then, I love anything that’s speedy. Speed Scrabble is a lot like Bananagrams®. It has no board, so it is great for the lawn. Follow along as I make the standard Scrabble tiles (there are 100!) in DIY Backyard Games.

backyard games for kids

Memory Lawn Game

Although it’s not a typical yard game, this has fast become one of our family faves. My youngest loves this game and gets so excited for matches. The large format and durable tiles are definitely suited to his excitement as well! Find out how I made this simple woodworking project in DIY Backyard Games.

outdoor woodworking projects

Four in a Row Outdoor Game

There’s something so fun about a game that’s so big. It feels like a novelty! This is the game with the longest line to play each time we’ve pulled it out. It’s nostalgic and strategic and really just a whole lot of fun. It’s also the most complicated build in my book, but I promise it’s worth it.

lawn games for adults


Jenga is such an easy game to play for all ages, and it gives players the thrill of a faster-paced game (the tower could fall at any time!) while still allowing people to carry on a relaxed conversation as they play. I’m a big fan, and so are my kids!

how to make cornhole boards, diy cornhole boards


Cornhole is a barbecue staple, or, at least, that’s what my American friends tell me! Since making it, it’s been played the most by adults at our gatherings. If you’re Canadian, you might have heard this game called “bean bag toss” instead, and, yes, it’s the same thing. The name simply reflects what the bags are often filled with. If you want to make your own beanbags, there’s a bonus tutorial at the end of this project found in the book!

“Whether you’re a more seasoned DIYer or just starting out with power tools, you’ll have all the info you need to make some fun outdoor games after reading this book! Colleen’s instructions are clear, and I can’t wait to get started on some DIY games for my family this year.”

Christina Dennis

The DIY Mommy, www.thediymommy.com

outdoor woodworking projects


We only have one small free mini golf course in town, but nothing with windmills, hills, or obstacles. So building this little at-home mini golf game has been such a hit! We brought it to a family barbecue and there was a lineup of kids all afternoon.

kids outdoor games


Chess and checkers are both classic games I grew up playing. To have fewer game pieces to store, we made the game pieces reversible between the games, so it’s truly a two-in-one project. I decided to use spray chalk to make the game board directly on grass—I love that it washes away after rain. 

Get Exclusive Email Offers And Receive 15% OFF On Your First Book Order!