Backyard Pool Games for the Whole Family

Family Backyard Pool Games

Water ya up to this summer? Hope its going swimmingly. So long, spring showers…you will surely be “mist.” Ok, enough with the bad water puns. Time to have some real fun in one of our favorite family outdoor spaces: the pool!

Whether you have a modest pool or a contemporary backyard masterpiece, it is time to seize the moment and have the pool party that everyone will remember. Summer is in full swing, and do we have some fun pool games for you!


A traditional game like “Marco Polo” might be fun for some. Others are ready for something new to spice up their pool life. Just remember, no matter what the activity, kids in the water need a parent or adult to supervise!

Kid Friendly Pool Game Ideas
On your marks, get set, go!

BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle):
Did you know that most plastics will sink once filled with water? Gather a bunch of small plastic bottles and remove the labels. Once complete, have the kids designate an area of your pool deck as their base where they throw the bottles into the pool backwards (no peeking). The player with the most bottles wins!

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Coin Dive Pool Game Ideas
Who can find the special coin?

Ice Cream Coin Dive:
This one will keep them occupied for a while! Start out by collecting an ice-cream bucket’s amount of coins and designating one as the “prize coin.” Then disperse the coins throughout your pool. Tell the kids that there will be ice cream for everyone who plays. The top prizes will be special ice cream sundaes, which will go to the one who gathers the most coins and the one who finds the prize coin. Watch as they scramble for the top prize!

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These little guys are harder to gather than they look!

Ping Pong Ball Race:
This one will have everyone laughing. With everyone out of the pool, toss a bucket of ping pong balls into the pool. Be sure to spread them out. At the count of three everyone jumps in and tries to gather as many as they can, stuffing them into their suits and swimshirts or holding onto them how ever they can. The person who gathers the most wins. You can also have specially colored balls that count for extra points or get a special prize.


Children are subconsciously drawn to pools like hummingbirds to honeysuckles, but who says pool games are just for the little ones?

See game videos at

Watermelon Ball:
You can either play this with a real watermelon or a specially weighted Watermelon Ball (which has less potential for cracking and getting messy). The game is basically like a combination of rugby, football and basketball played in the water. Watermelons are neutrally buoyant, which allows them to be passed underwater. Fabricated watermelon balls are engineered to create the same feel. To play, split into two teams and line each team on opposite sides of the pool. Flip to see which team gets the melon first. The goal is to get the melon onto the opposite deck to score a point. Opposing team gets to start with the melon on the next round. Set some ground rules regarding rough play (like no pulling off suits or holding someone underwater), but otherwise pass, steal, dribble, run, whatever it takes to make a goal. To add another level of difficulty, anchor inner-tubes to use as the goals for each team. To make the game even more tricky, you can coat the watermelon or ball with some petroleum jelly to make it harder to hold onto.

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Floating Pool Beer Pong Battleship
Take “you sank my battleship” to a new level.

Pool Pong (21+):
When it’s adult swim time, fetch a few of those ping pong balls from the race and play beer pong in the pool. There are lots of pool pong products on the market for this type of activity. Although, probably the most creative is called Battleship Beer Pong, which is sort of a cross between beer pong and the classic Battleship board game, complete with cup rafts that replicate the destroyer, submarine, battleship and aircraft carrier from the board game.

Get Ready for Backyard Waterpalooza!

There is no doubt about it, summer is here, particularly if you live in the south! As soon as the kids get out of school, the heat index climbs, and their need for stimulation increases. Well there’s no better way to beat the heat than water play. Whether you have a pool or not, there are lots of fun games with water that will keep the whole family entertained throughout the summer.


Water Balloons

Who doesn’t love water balloons? They are quick, easy, and available just about anywhere. Over the course of a couple of days, you can fill several Rubbermaid containers with water balloons. Be cool and keep it a secret so when you make the big reveal, you will be the big hit!

  • Balloon Toss: Start out with something simple like a water balloon toss. Remember the egg toss? Well, it’s the same idea but its only water, so there’s minimal clean-up. Partners start close together and with each toss, step back until the inevitable…someone’s balloon explodes and everyone erupts into fits of laughter.
  • Balloon Volleyball: This can easily become your best sport. Each team consists of two to four people. Groups of two will each hold the end of a beach towel to launch, catch and volley the water balloon over the net. If you don’t have a net, don’t worry.  Set up a couple of chairs or simply use a broom to represent where the net would be. Be careful, though! If you launch the balloon straight up, it will likely explode on your own head.
  • Balloon Cornhole: Set two containers or bowls filled with water in the same way you would set up cornhole boards for tossing bean bags. Reward point amounts for getting the balloons into the containers.
  • Balloon Battle:  Depending on the ages of the children, you can close out the water balloon day with a good old-fashioned water balloon fight. The adults may even want to get in on this one!


Water guns will always be a big hit with people of all ages. In addition to the fun of a free-for-all water gun fight, there are some fun organized games you can try.

  • Target Practice: Try setting up some ping pong balls on golf tees and engage everyone in a little target practice. Or you can set up jars and see who can get the most water in the jars, or make a pyramid of disposable cups and see who can knock the most off.
  • Water Tag: Set up an obstacle course and divide everyone into teams. First person to get hit is “out”. Last man standing wins. If you want to make a really cool obstacle course, call a local appliance store and ask for some used boxes.



On a really hot day, there’s nothing like a sprinkler to keep you cool. Here are a couple of ideas for organized sprinkler activities.

  • Obstacle Course:  For this one, you’ll need multiple hoses and multiple sprinklers. Set the sprinklers at various locations and create an obstacle course where the kids have to try to run through without getting sprayed.
  • Homemade Slip and Slide: Get a roll of plastic sheeting from the hardware store. Roll it out and weigh it down with bean bags every few feet. You may also want to duct tape it to the grass for additional reinforcement. Drizzle a little liquid soap here and there, wet it down with a water hose, and you’re ready to slip and slide. Keep the sheeting continuously wet with sprinklers or a water hose. Or do this on a rainy day, as long as there’s no lightening.

Outdoor Entertaining Tip of the Month: Enjoying the Dog Days of Summer

It’s just a few weeks into summer and we’re already feeling the heat in many parts of the country. While the summer months provide the warm weather to enjoy our outdoor spaces, the dog days of summer can sometimes mean higher temperatures than we’d prefer. Here are some tips for enjoying your patio even on the hottest of days:

– Shade and sunscreen are a winning combination for hot summer days. Make sure your outdoor space has a shady retreat to escape the sun and always wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days.

– One of our favorite ways of staying cool in the summer is going for a dip in the pool. Pools that integrate into your outdoor space become a stunning visual throughout the year.

– Stock your outdoor fridge with plenty of drinks. Cool, refreshing beverages will keep you hydrated throughout the day.

– An outdoor fan is a great option for porches or patios with a ceiling overhead. They help circulate the air and can provide just the right amount of breeze on no-wind days.

– Always remember, safety first. If the temperatures are just too high to tolerate, stay indoors. The elderly and those with health conditions are most at risk so take proper caution on severe heat days.

Celebrate Summer Outdoors

With the first weekend of summer behind us, let’s take some time to celebrate summer outdoors. From cannon balls in the pool to s’mores around the fire pit, we asked homeowners how they enjoy their outdoor living spaces during the summertime.

“My husband recently purchased his new dream grill. We’re looking forward to all the tasty meals we can cook outdoors this summer.” – Anna from Parkville, Md.

“We live in the Village of Fairport across from the Erie Canal, and our favorite day outdoors is during the Canal Days arts and crafts festival, when we have a day-long cookout so that all our family and friends can drop by at any time during the festival and get a little food, a cold drink and a comfortable seat on our patio. Our backyard is one of our favorite social spaces in our home and it’s absolutely perfect for summertime get-togethers like these.” – Kara from Fairport, N.Y.

“I’m so glad that warm weather has finally arrived so I can enjoy my back patio. I love laying out in the sun for a summertime cat nap!” – Kristina from Kansas City, Mo.

“Our friends just introduced us to this amazing new twist to the classic s’more. Instead of using plain milk chocolate they used this delicious caramel and toffee chocolate. The melted toffee mixed with the marshmallow and graham cracker was divine! We’ll being making these around our fire pit all summer long!” – Heather from Charlotte, N.C.

Tell us how you’ll be celebrating summer outdoors in the comments section!


Father’s Day Gift Guide

Dad: Master of the Grill, Keeper of the Lawn and Devourer of Deliciousness – it’s no wonder all of these outdoor living goodies and gadgets made our Father’s Day Gift Guide list. If you’re still looking for that perfect something for the special father in your life, check out our picks for Father’s Day giving.

1.    These BBQ sauces from Williams-Sonoma are unexpected and delicious! Dad is sure to love the flavor combinations of Jalapeño Peach, Cherry Chipotle, Spicy Root Beer, Sweet Onion Apple Wood, Bourbon and Black Pepper, and Maple Mesquite.
2.    What grill master doesn’t love the Big Green Egg? Customize dad’s grill station with Belgard pavers surrounding your prized egg and creating a prep station for meats.
3.    We love this Kabob Set by Weber – it’s perfect for adding a little char to veggies and seafood.
4.    Your old man would love nothing more than to spend some quality time with you on Father’s Day. How about tossing around this Rawlings ST5 Game Football from Dick’s Sporting Goods in the backyard?
5.    After all that exercise in the summer sun, Dad will need a cold, refreshing beer to cool off. Why not serve it to him in one of these glasses from the Craft Brew 12 Piece Set from Target – he’ll love having just the right glass for all his favorite varieties.
6.    The Lexington Bar Set from Wicker Patio Furniture and More would be a beautiful addition to dad’s patio. It’s the perfect height for entertaining – sitting or standing, guests can take their pick.

Year-round Ideas for Outdoor Fireplaces and Fire Pits

As families across the country are embracing the “staycation”, it’s no secret that the popularity of outdoor living is on the rise! In fact, a recent survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) revealed that “ninety-four percent of residential landscape architects rate outdoor living spaces as somewhat or very popular for 2010.” A common goal among homeowners building a new outdoor room and those adding to an existing room is maximizing the use of their outdoor living space.

One popular option is adding an outdoor fire place or fire pit to an outdoor room. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), “fireplaces rank among the top three features desired by new home buyers.” In many parts of the country, an outdoor fireplace or fire pit allows homeowners to extend their outdoor living season. Fire pits are especially suitable for those cooler evenings, as friends tend to gather around them. Fireplaces, on the other hand, create an ambiance more akin to a family room. In both cases, the mesmerizing effect of glowing embers can quickly become the focal point of any evening.

While the benefits to having an outdoor fireplace or fire pit are more obvious during the cooler months, we also wanted to share a few suggestions for ways to use these elements during warmer weather.

Storytelling by the “campfire”:  Naturally, a fireplace serves as a great focal point or gathering place for your outdoor room. During the warmer months, invite the kids or neighbors out for a night of storytelling…campfire-style.

Old-fashioned cook out:  More and more people are beginning to use their outdoor fire pits and fireplaces for cooking. While roasting marshmallows is a familiar past time to most, many people do not realize you can cook virtually anything with fire. Make S’mores with the kids or entertain the adults with a rotisserie-style cook out in front of your fireplace.

Beat the Bugs: In an article entitled Using a Fire Pit as a Garden’s Focal Point, the source offers this suggestion, “place boughs of rosemary or stalks of citronella near the fire, and let the natural insect-repellent keep the evening comfortable and bug-free.”

These are just a few ways to use your outdoor fireplace or fire pit year-round. If you have additional suggestions, we’d love to hear them! Please leave a comment and we’ll share your suggestion with the rest of our outdoor enthusiasts.