If you’re gathering family and friends for a celebration this summer, these backyard party ideas will impress your guests. From creative ways to keep drinks cool to seriously easy entertainment for kids, it will be a soiree to remember.
Even better, a lot of these party hacks are super affordable (if not free using stuff you already own). Are there supplies on this list you don’t have? We highly recommend tapping into your local Buy Nothing Facebook group to see if anyone has items to give away or even just allow you to borrow for a weekend. Sure, party shopping can be fun, but saving money is even better.
How to save money on these backyard party ideas:
- Stack coupons in store. Dollar Tree is a great place to use coupons. If an item only costs a dollar, you can use a $0.50 off coupon to get the item for half price. Use a dollar-off coupon and the item is yours for free!
- Use food coupons whenever you’re shopping at a grocery or drug store. Stack them with Ibotta offers to save even more!
- Shop Amazon deals when you can’t find something cheaper at the dollar store.
Definitely text HACKS to 57299 so that we can send all sorts of savings info straight to your phone.
1. Put glow stick bracelets inside balloons for outdoor party lights.
These are easy to make: you just need bracelet glow sticks and balloons. Buy them at the dollar store — glow sticks come in bundle packs, so you can get quite a few for your dollar.
To create the balloon outdoor party lights, snap a glow stick to activate it and then insert it into an inflated balloon. Some air may escape in the process, so blow into the balloon if more is needed after your glow stick is inside. The average glow stick lasts about 6 – 8 hours, so be sure to plan accordingly!
2. Tape lines on a tarp or shower curtain liner and play outdoor party games like frisbee tic-tac-toe.
Backyard party ideas are no help if they don’t include some outdoor games! This one is fun for kids especially, although adults could get into it too.
Plus, if you’re into the idea of repurposing shower curtain liners, we’ve got loads of ideas there, too.
3. Make a DIY fire pit with a heavy-duty metal tub.
You don’t need an expensive outdoor fire pit for your party. Just use a solid metal tub instead.
This works best if you have one already, but if you don’t, price compare with Home Depot because you can usually get a small fire pit for about the same price as a metal tub on Amazon. In that case, just get a cheap fire pit.
If you go with a metal tub, stay safe by making sure there are no low-lying branches above and the area is free of any debris. Before you light a fire, spread a thick layer of sand on the ground where the tub will sit.
4. Keep backyard party snacks chilled by filling an inflatable pool raft with ice.
This is one of my favorite backyard party ideas. It’s easy and so summery. Look for floats that fit your backyard party theme.
I found this small inflatable pool float on Amazon, which has a general summer feel to it. Or you can find them at almost any brick and mortar store (including drugstores) once the weather warms.
When summer is close, we’ll start watching for pool deals, so bookmark that page, too.
5. Add a twist to s’mores with bacon and different kinds of chocolate.
Who says s’mores have to be boring? You can put almost anything on them to jazz them up a bit. Case in point: bacon. Yes, bacon. If you’ve ever had maple bacon, you already know the magic that happens when you combine bacon with something sweet. But don’t stop there!
Substitute milk chocolate for dark or white chocolate (or Reese’s!), and feel free to heat up some fudge or caramel to drizzle on top. It’s already crazy messy, so why not go with it?
6. Keep bugs out of drinks with cupcake liner lids.
Keeping bugs and pests away from those sweet drinks doesn’t have to involve harsh chemicals. In fact, you can create an easy fix by turning cupcake liners upside down over drinks to make a lid.
Be sure to stick paper straws through the liners before your party because they’ll help the liners stay in place.
Need something more heavy duty for those bugs? Here are some natural bug repellents.
7. Hang a large picture frame from a tree to make a backyard party “photo booth.”
You just need some ribbon and a really large frame to bring this backyard party idea to life.
Frames aren’t cheap, but according to the Hobby Lobby sales schedule, you can expect to find them for 50% off every other week or so. (Ribbon goes on sale this frequently too!)
Prioritize price when you’re looking for a frame because you can always use spray paint to change the color.
When you have your supplies, loop the ribbon through the top of the frame and hang it.
8. Store backyard party food in glass cookie jars to maintain freshness and keep flies away.
Glass cookie jars allow your guests to see what’s inside (although you could certainly use labels, too). They also keep your food away from bugs and air exposure.
But the best part is that you can reuse these for all sorts of storage needs once the party is over.
RELATED: Keep tabs on storage deals to watch for glass cookie jars on sale.
9. Looking for outdoor party game ideas for adults? Glow-in-the-dark ring toss is here for you.
Get all your glow sticks at the dollar store, just make sure some of them are necklaces and some are chubby sticks.
To play this game, you’ll need to wait to activate the glow by snapping them just before the game is about to start. But you can definitely push the chubby sticks into the ground ahead of time.
See all the best Dollar Tree deals.
10. Paint letters on cardboard squares to play giant outdoor Scrabble.
Paint or draw letters on cardboard squares to play a huge game of outdoor Scrabble. You’ll need multiples of vowels and certain popular letters like R, S, and T. Here are the exact amounts of each letter in a Scrabble game, along with their face value points. I doubt you’ll need as many of each letter unless you have a huge back yard. But you can see the ratio of letters at least.
Make cardboard squares out of pieces of empty diaper boxes or cut-up Amazon boxes. Be sure to recycle them when it’s all over.
11. Turn tin cans into backyard party lanterns with a drill or hammer and nails.
Collect empty tin cans in advance of your party and when the time comes, just grab a hammer and nails — or a drill.
The safest way to do this is to fill the tins with water and freeze them overnight. When it’s time to make the holes, wrap the tin in a towel to keep it from moving. Using the hammer and nail or drill, punch holes in the tin. Run the tins under hot water to remove the ice block when you’re done.
You can make patterns or just random dots that resemble a starry sky.
Get canned food coupons to use on what will eventually be your tin lanterns!
12. Next on the outdoor party games list: bean bag toss with rice-filled socks.
To create your own bean bag toss game, fill a couple of small socks with rice and tie the ends with rubber bands and a ribbon. Then, cover six empty, clean, 15-ounce cans with colored tape or wrap them in paper. Just make sure the tape covers any sharp edges on the cans or file them down ahead of time.
Set the cans up in a pyramid and have kids stand several feet away. Whoever knocks down all the cans within two tries wins.
13. Chill backyard party drinks with water balloons instead of ice.
Why let ice have all the fun? Fill water balloons up with water and place them inside your cooler or drink holder. They will last as long as blocks of ice and will add some color.
14. Or keep backyard party drinks cold in a wheelbarrow.
Pretty much any piece of outdoor or farm equipment can be repurposed and look stunning at a backyard party. The more scrapes, cracks, and rust, the better.
If you have an old wheelbarrow lying around, clean it out and fill it with ice and drinks. It’ll hold so much you may not have to refill it at all during the party, although you’ll probably need to add more ice!
15. Use ketchup or mustard to remind the chef how you like your burger cooked.
Whoever is on the grill during your backyard party will appreciate the thought as they juggle different requests from people.
If you don’t want to hover around the grill, carefully use ketchup or mustard to write “W” for well done, or “R” for rare on your bun. This way, the chef knows what you’d like even if you set your plate down and walk away. It’s one of those outdoor party ideas that is clever and so, so easy.
While you’re at it, mark the bun with your name so it’s clear who it belongs to.
16. Make outdoor party lights out of used K-Cups.
Own a Keurig? Do you cringe at the thought of those little cups dying in a landfill? Solution: reuse old K-Cups and make cool crafts at the same time.
Completely remove the K-Cup foil tops and clean them out so no coffee residue is left behind. Then poke a hole in the bottoms of the cups so you can push them over individual bulbs on a string of lights.
Need more K-Cups? Check out these Keurig deals.
17. Protect backyard party guests from insect bites and sunburns with a sunscreen and bug spray station.
Use a post and hook to hang a pail full of sunscreen and bug spray, or just set up a basket with the items inside. You can approach this in so many different ways to fit your backyard party theme. Your guests will appreciate the thoughtful gesture!
18. Beat the heat and cool off instantly with water balloon piñatas.
For fun outdoor party ideas, fill regular size balloons with water and tie them to a rope or thick string hung between two trees (or stakes).
Supply a plastic bat or stick and the only thing you’ll need to decide is whether or not you need a blindfold. If the goal is the piñata game, use one. If the goal is to get wet, you don’t need one.
19. Create your own bubble wand to make giant bubbles.
These huge bubble wands are really just two sticks tied together with a triangle of string. You can use branches from your backyard, or buy sticks at a craft store, it doesn’t matter. Attach the string to the sticks so it’s tight across the top and hangs in a loop at the bottom.
Now, bubble solution! For a maximum-strength solution, mix together five gallons of water and 10 cups of Dawn dish soap, then let it sit overnight. Dip the string into the solution and let the wind blow huge bubbles the kids can chase.
RELATED: Here are more Dawn dish soap uses that’ll make your life easier.
20. Make mosquito-repellent tiki torches with empty wine bottles.
Outdoor party ideas shouldn’t involve mosquitos. Here’s how to make getting rid of them stylish:
What you’ll need:
What you’ll do:
- Fill the bottom of a clean wine bottle with decorative marbles or rocks.
- Wrap thread seal tape around the brass mounts that come with your Wine Bottle Tiki Torch Kit to create a snug fit between the mount and the mouth of the bottle.
- Fill your bottle with tiki torch fuel, insert your wick, and light!
RELATED: Learn more cool things you can do with empty wine bottles.
21. Use a ladder to play bean bag toss.
This is going to be the easiest of all your backyard party ideas.
Pull your step ladder out of the garage, shed, or wherever it lives, and hang a piece of paper with a number on each rung to list point values. Then instruct kids to throw the bean bags (or socks full of rice!) between the rungs.
22. Turn a yard flagpole into a paper towel holder.
Instead of messing with a pile of napkins on the table, repurpose a small yard flag pole so that it holds paper towels. It’ll act as a dispenser. Need more outdoor party ideas? Set up a little hand-washing station next to your makeshift paper towel holder.
Get paper towel coupons and deals instead of paying regular price!
23. Use an old shower curtain liner to keep picnic blankets dry and free from grass stains.
Shower curtain liners are the perfect size to fit under a blanket on the grass. And if you’re worried about grass stains or leftover wetness soaking through your blankets, this solves that problem too.