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4th of July Cookout Memory Game

Materials Needed

  • A good memory
  • If you have a sharp and focused group of players this game can last a surprisingly long time. Try to keep the pace of play rapid, sometimes guests will take forever trying to get it right.

    The Set Up: Have your guests sit in a circle in a large open area and select a random player to start.

    The Rules: The first player will say, “Every 4th of July cookout should have __________” filling in the blank with whatever food they choose. It can be realistic like “hot dogs” or outrageous like “tuna tartar”. For purposes of example the first person said ”hot dogs”. The person to the left of the starter(clockwise) goes next. They will say, ” Every 4th of July cookout should have hot dogs and __________” filling in the blank with whatever they choose. The third person would say the entire phrase including both of the previous answers(in order) and add a third.

    This continues moving left around the circle with each person repeating what the previous person said and adding an additional cookout food until someone forgets one of the foods, messes up the order or in some way makes a mistake. That person is out and leaves the circle. The person to the left of the person that is now out starts the game over again from scratch. Continue playing and eliminating players until only one person remains. That person is a very deserving winner.

    If the Game is Taking Too Long: Sometimes this game can bog down with guests taking long turns. If your game starts to slow down or even from the very beginning you can add a five second rule. So if any player on their turn goes for more than 5 seconds without adding to the list they are eliminated.

    Watermelon Roll Race

    Materials Needed

  • A watermelon
  • An orange cone
  • Pen and paper
  • Since most parties will have more guests than watermelons, each participant runs this race individually and is timed. While that does add a bit of work running the stopwatch and recording the times, the results of this race can be hilarious and well worth the extra effort.

    The Set Up: Mark a start line and place one watermelon on it. About 25 yards away place an orange cone or something similar to mark the spot the racers will roll the watermelon around. Make sure you have a stopwatch available as well as pen and paper to record the times.

    The Rules: The player rolls the watermelon around the cone and then back to the start/finish line as quickly as possible without using their hands or feet. They can use elbows, knees, shoulders, their head or anything else they can think of but not their hands or feet. Use a stopwatch to time each competitor and record the times. Once everyone has had a chance, the person with the fastest time is declared the winner.

    For Kids: This game can be a bit challenging for young kids. For a special kid-friendly version use a smaller round watermelon and allow them to use their hands and feet.

    When you are done: After the race it is time to eat the watermelon, which is the perfect time to have a Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest.

    Bat Spin Relay Race

    Materials Needed

  • One baseball bat per team
  • Be sure to provide a lot of space between the teams for this game. Since some of the guests are not going to be running straight, it is best to try to avoid collisions.

    The Set Up: Divide your party guests into teams of 7-10 players each. Mark a start line and place one baseball bat per team about twenty yards away from the start line. Each team lines up on the start line across from their baseball bat.

    The Rules: When the game begins the first player in line for each team runs to their baseball bat. Once there, they grab the skinny end of the bat and while bending over they touch the end of it to their forehead while leaving the end of the fat part of the bat touching the ground. The bat should be at a 90 degree angle to the ground with one end touching the ground and the other end touching the forehead of the player. The player runs in a circle around the bat five times, staying in constant contact with the bat touching their forehead and the bat staying in contact with the ground. After five trips around the bat the party guest then runs back to the start line and tags the second person in line for their team. The second contestant runs to the bat and the process repeats. The first team to have all members complete their turn is the winner.

    Clear the Field of Play: As is the case with any active outdoor game, make sure the playing area is clear of anything the party guests might twist an ankle on or trip over.

    Uncle Sam’s Hat Making Competition

    Materials Needed

  • Red, white, and blue construction paper
  • Safety sacissors
  • Glue
  • Glitter
  • Cotton balls
  • Any other kid-friendly crafts supplies you have available
  • While this is a competition, the biggest benefit may be as a craft activity that allows the kids to relax, calm down and take a break from the more actives games at your 4th of July party.

    The Set Up: On a large table provide construction paper(red, white and blue), safety scissors, glue, cotton, balls, glitter, and any other kid friendly craft materials you have available. For younger kids it is also a good idea to provide a few pictures of Uncle Sam’s hat since they might not be familiar with it. You will then need to select a panel of judges who will select the winner(s) of the Uncle Sam’s Hat Making Competition.

    The Rules: Give the kids around twenty minutes to make their Uncle Sam hats, but if they are having fun and not yet finished letting them work until they are done is a good option. Once everyone has completed their hat, have them line up wearing their hats and parade past the panel of hat judges. There should be plenty of clapping and cheers from the adults during the parade. The judges select an overall winner as well as winners for most creative, most colorful, most 4th of July spirit, and whatever other categories you would like to include. The winners get a prize and all of the kids get are awarded a participation prize as well great praise from the adults.

    Photo-Op: The parade of hats is an excellent opportunity to take fabulous 4th of July photographs of the kids.

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    Water Balloon Dodgeball

    Materials Needed

  • A whole bunch of water balloons
  • Two baskets, barrels, or trash cans to hold the balloons
  • Play close attention to the size of your playing area. You can adjust the size based on your number of players but it is best to err on the side of smaller since you do not want it to be so large that the players feel safe if they run to the back corner.

    The Set Up: Mark off a rectangular area outside which will be the inbounds playing area for the game. Mark a center line across your rectangular playing area(the short distance center, not the long). Make two large baskets(barrels, trash cans) with an equal number of water balloons and place them on the back line of either side of the playing area. Divide the players into two evenly matched teams.

    The Rules: Each team gets water balloons from the basket on their side and attempts to hit members of the opposing team with the water balloons without crossing the center line. If a players is hit with a water balloon without it hitting the ground first, crosses the center line or leaves the inbounds area they are out of the game. Also, if a participant catches a water balloon thrown by the opposing team without it hitting the ground or breaking the party guest that threw the balloon is out. Continue playing until one team wins by eliminating all players from the other team. If both teams run completely out of water balloons with players left the team with the most players remaining is the winner.

    Clear the Field of Play: As is the case with any active outdoor game, make sure the playing area is clear of anything the party guests might twist an ankle on or trip over.

    Three-Legged Race

    Materials Needed

  • Something to tie legs together; bananas, rope, etc
  • You can pair adults with adults or kids with kids in the Three-Legged Race , but this is an excellent opportunity to team older and younger guests.

    The Set Up: Decide what you are going to use to tie the legs together for example; bandanas, rope, duct tape. Set a start and a finish line.

    The Rules: Player are broken up into teams of two. They stand next to each other and the inside right leg of one is tied to the left leg of the other. All participant stand at the starting line, after a Ready, Set, GO! they race to the finish line. The first team to cross is the winner.

    Clear the Field of Play: As is the case with any active outdoor game, make sure the playing area is clear of anything the party guests might twist an ankle on or trip over.

    Traditional 4th of July Sack Race

    Materials Needed

  • Burlap sacks and/or pillow cases
  • Burlap sacks make an excellent choice for your sack race. They are durable so you can keep them to use for your Fourth of July party next year and they are large enough for most adults. For young kids burlap sacks might be too large so consider using pillow cases.

    The Set Up: Get as many burlap sacks as you can and some pillow cases for young kids. Mark a start and finish line for the race.

    The Rules: The contestants stand at the start line inside of their sacks, holding them with both hands at their waist. When the race begins the participants must hop to the finish line while staying inside of their sacks. The first person to cross the finish line wins. If you have more players than sacks run multiple heats then have the winners of each heat meet in a championship race.

    Age Groups: If your party has guests of a variety of ages it is a good idea to run multiple races, one for each age group. The course can be shorter for younger kids and increase in length as the age of participants increase. Be sure to award a prize to the winner of each group.

    Clear the Field of Play: As is the case with any active outdoor game, make sure the playing area is clear of anything the party guests might twist an ankle on or trip over.

    Red, White or Blue Circle Game

    Materials Needed

  • A circle of players
  • While this game works perfectly fine outdoors, it is a great option if bad weather forces your party inside or if you just want a less active activity to help settle the kids down.

    The Set Up: Have your players sit in a circle and randomly select one of them to start the game.

    The Rules: The person you select to go first says something that is red, like an apple. It can be a single word or a short phrase. Then the person to their left(clockwise) says something white, like vanilla ice cream. The person to their left then says something blue, like the sky. The fourth person must say something red and the cycle repeats.

    If anyone says something that is not the right color, repeats an item someone said previously or cannot come up with anything to say in five seconds they are eliminated from the game and must leave the circle. The game continues with the person to the left of the player that is now out starting a new round by saying something red. Keeping playing until only one player remains who is the winner.

    Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest

    Materials Needed

  • A Watermelon
  • A tape measure
  • Large adhesive tape or flour
  • While spitting watermelon seeds may seem gross to some people, it is a traditional 4th of July activity with literally centuries of history. Besides, the kids are going to love it!

    The Set Up: First, you are going to want a lot of watermelon seeds. Luckily watermelons have a lot of seeds so serve it at your 4th of July party during the seed spitting contest. That way the guests can get the seeds for the contest from the watermelon they are eating. Next, use large adhesive tape or a bag of flour, mark off a line on the ground which the guests will stand behind when spitting. Finally, make sure you have a tape measure handy.

    The Rules: Each contestant gets three attempts at spitting a watermelon seed as far as possible. Track where the seeds land then measure and write down the longest attempt by each player. Once all guests have had their turn the person who spit the seed the longest distance is declared the watermelon seed spitting champion and awarded a prize.

    A Prize for the Kids(optional): If you have kids playing you might consider awarding a separate prize for the youngsters or even for several different age groups.

    Frozen T-Shirt Contest

    Materials Needed

  • A t-shirt for each player
  • A Ziploc bag for each t-shirt
  • The prep time and materials required for this game can be demanding, but the good part is that it is very easy to play at your party once all of that preliminary work has been completed.

    The Set Up: You are going to need one t-shirt for every guest that plays the game. Submerge the t-shirts in water until completely saturated, then wring them out so that they are wet but not dripping much water. Fold each t-shirt like you normally would and then roll them up as tightly as you can. Put each shirt in a large Ziploc bag then place them all in your freezer. Allow them to freeze for two days.

    A note on difficultly: You can adjust how difficult it will be to wear the t-shirts. If you wring out almost all of the water before freezing it will be easy. If you do not wring the shirt out at all, leaving it sopping wet before freezing it will be very difficult.

    The Rules: Give each player a t-shirt still in the Ziploc bag. When the game starts they remove the shirt from the bag and attempt to wear it. They are not allowed to put it under water, heat it up or manipulate it in any way except by using their own bodies. The first person to wear their t-shirt is the winner.