How to Make Games for Everyone to Play
Whether you want water toys to entertain the kids in summer, games for adults to play at a party, or family activities for a Labor Day weekend BBQ, this page will hopefully give you plenty of ideas for homemade projects. I know people who enjoy crafts and DIY as pastimes will also enjoy the process of making their own awesome games...and you can save money too!
I have compiled a variety of tutorials showing you how to build all kinds of products from giant Jenga and board games to water sprinklers and bazookas! There are indoor and outdoor options, plus lots for kids to play with as well as adults. I've also written my own how-to for making a large game of checkers.
I hope you enjoy the ideas and I hope this page inspires you :)
Fun Games for Groups of Adults
These indoor board games are bound to have you all rolling around in giggles - I especially love 'Cards Against Humanity'!
Different Ways You Can Create a Game or Toy
If you are a keen DIY-er or crafter, then making your own games and/or toys is a worthwhile and very fun exercise. There are a few options for doing this:
- Invent a new game: This is for the most creative, and is my personal favorite idea because you can really use your imagination. You could invent your own indoor board game, or props for a made-up game, or even adapt an existing game.
- Make a giant outdoor version: There are quite a few indoor games which are perfect for making into 'giant' versions in order to make them more suitable for outdoor party games. Examples of this include Jenga, Pick-up Sticks, Scrabble and Ker-Plunk - all of which you can find tutorials for on this page.
- Create a custom or personalized version: To do this you can either make an existing game from scratch and put your own personality into the design, or you can adapt the existing game pieces and game board. Examples of this include a Monopoly board made using places in your hometown as the property squares, a Guess Who? game using photos of family members and friends, and even a hand-illustrated Cluedo set.
- Recreate a game or toy: You can recreate an existing game by copying it directly to be as close to the original as possible, which could save you money as well as being enjoyable to do. Another option is to make a game/toy that isn't available to buy anymore (perhaps it's rare or was only available in the 80s for instance), so you'll have to recreate it from memory or any photos you can find online.
Water toys (e.g. water bomb shooters, water blobs, sprinklers & slip 'n' slide) are popular things to make at home because they're often quite simple constructions and mostly work out much cheaper compared to buying them.
How To Make Lawn Games & Toys
- Lawn Scrabble
Make your own giant-size Scrabble game for outdoors.
- Kubb - a Swedish Game
Build an impressive lawn game which was created in Sweden.
- Outdoor Bowling Pins
Recycle plastic bottles for this classic game.
- Bean Bag Toss
A simple game for the summer months.
- Giant Jenga
A fun game for people of all ages.
- Ice Cream Pinata
Especially fun for kids, the pinata is filled with sweets and hit with a stick!
- Flamingo Croquet
Recreate Alice in Wonderland in your own yard.
- Giant Pick-Up Sticks
Easy-to-make game of skill and patience.
- Homemade Twister
DIY lawn game which is bound to be a lot of cheeky fun!
- DIY Bullseye Target
Some of the best games involve just a toy and a target to shoot at.
- Bows 'n' Arrows
Make your own target practice and cork arrows - fab for older kids.
Water Toys & Games
- DIY Foam-erator
Make snakes of foam with this cheap toy.
- PVC Sprinkler
Fun water spraying yard toy.
Plans to make a water shooting gun.
- Sponge Toys
Safe toys for kids to throw at each other.
- Water Gun
Hand-held cannons made with pipes.
Fun activity to give you a shock.
- Backyard Slide
Simpy a large sheet of plastic makes a fun activity.
- Boat Crafts
Scroll down for tonnes of cheap boat how-tos.
- Origami Paper Bombs
When you don't have water balloons to hand.
- Bouncy Balloon Balls
For longer lasting water balloons.
How to Make a Giant Game of Checkers
(Image credit: me)
What you will need:
* 2 Square pieces of clear plastic sheet, in as large a size as possible (depending on how big you want your game to be).
Clear shower curtains or tablecloths would work for this. I use plastic sheet so that the game can be used outside and rain won't damage it - plus it's wipe clean. If you can't find suitable clear sheeting or you won't be using the game outdoors, then you can simply exclude it from your project :)
* Flexible, clear and strong glue which is suitable for glueing plastic.
I've listed an example of a good glue below this tutorial.
* Black fabric and white fabric
Both the black and the white fabrics should be the same type e.g thin cotton. You will need enough of each color fabric to cover half of your plastic sheet square.
* Sewing machine
* Black and red spray paints
* Flat circular objects to represent the checkers.
The size of your finished game board will determine what size of checkers you will need, but suggestions for what you could use include lids off jars or other packaging, frisbees, plates, and stacks of unwanted CDs - or you could make them yourself from wood such as pine.
- Make sure both of your plastic sheets are exactly square, then measure the length of one edge in inches. Divide this number by 8. As an example I will assume the plastic sheet is 72" square, and therefore 72" divided by 8 is 9".
- The resulting number is going to be the length of each side of the individual squares. So next cut out 32 black squares and 32 white squares of exactly the same size. For this example, each square would be 9" x 9".
- Next you will need to sew the squares together, row by row, alternating the colors i.e. black, white, black, white...etc. To sew two squares together, place them face-to-face (right sides together), pin them together so they don't move around, and then sew straight down one edge (through both layers). The seam allowance* will be 1/4", and you should use a straight stitch.
* The seam allowance represents the distance between the sewn line and the edge of the fabric.
- Repeat until you have 8 rows of 8 squares sewn together.
- Press open the seams on the reverse of the fabric rows with an iron so that the seams are opened out and are flat. You can topstitch if you wish.
- Center your fabric game board on top of one piece of the plastic sheeting. You can hem the 4 edges of the fabric before this step to neaten it up if you wish. Apply glue around the edge of the plastic sheeting and put the other plastic sheet on top, so that the fabric is sandwiched between the 2. Make sure the plastic sheets are perfectly aligned and then leave to dry.
If you are not going to use plastic sheeting, then you can now hem the 4 edges of the fabric square and sew on a fabric backing, making sure the raw edges are hidden.
- Spray paint the round objects that you are using as your counters so that 12 are black and 12 are red.
TIP: If you don't have a sewing machine, you could instead create the fabric section of the game board by having one large piece of white fabric (e.g. canvas or drop cloth) and then, using masking tape as the stencil, paint black (fabric paint) squares in the correct configuration. This eliminates the need to sew.
Products Needed to Make a Game of Checkers
Creative Video Tutorials
Top-Rated Outdoor games
Here are a couple of classic, popular games for fair-weather fun:
More Water-Based DIYs for Summer Fun
- Easiest Water Guns
A water bottle is all you need.
- Making Bubbles
Have endless fun making giant bubbles.
- Huge Slip & Slide
How to make a super garden activity.
- Drive-Through Bike Wash
Very fun and colorful DIY sprinkler toy.
- DIY Water Table
A project which only needs basic woodworking skills to complete.
- Bubbles Station
Lots of fun can be had with bubble mixture and bubble blowing toys.
- Huge Water Blob
And stop it leaking by melting the plastic sheets with an iron.
- PVC Pipe Car Wash
Construct a walk-through watery tunnel.
- Waterfall Wall
Encourage logical thinking during kid's playtime.
- Sailboats on a River
Make mini boat toys and send them sailing down a foil river.
DIY Cornhole Game
Outdoor Kid's Toys & More Things to Make
- Halloween Frankenstein Bowling
Hilarious use for foam heads!
- Make Your Own Moon Sand
Cheaper than the original version too.
- Rainbow Bubble Snakes
Creates beautiful colors.
- DIY Bubble Machine
Blow through a straw to create masses of bubbles.
- Retro Ring Toss Game
A carnival style game with wooden dowel targets and rope rings.
- Ball Maze
So much fun can be had with just cardboard and tubes!
- Pool Noodle Games
How to use foam noodle shapes to make backyard games.
- Tarp Target Practice
Practice your football kicking or throwing skills with this scoring game.
- Velcro Catch Ball
Fun catch game created with knitted gloves and Velcro.
- 90's Catch & Toss
How to make a classic catching game from the nineties.
- Tractor Tire Sandbox
A smart play area for kids made by recycling a large tire.
- Children's Road Trip Activities
This DIY list includes travel bingo and a dry erase book.
- Bug Hunt Net
Make what you need for an entertaining backyard bug hunt.
Junkyard Chess Set
Projects Involving Woodworking, Sewing or Electronics
- Make a Hovercraft
This is one of my favorite ideas, and it's not difficult either.
- DIY Wahoo Board Game
All you need are basic woodworking skills.
- Magnetic 'Go Fish'
A fishing game with sewn flannel fish.
- Travel Tic-Tac-Toe
Sew your own quilted mini game, complete with a handy pouch.
- Wooly Willy Table
A coffee table project with an amusing magnetic game built-in.
- Indoor Bowling Set
Sew your own pins and bowling ball for a set that will last for years.
- Steady Hand Gadget
You could even scale this idea up to make a large version for parties.
- Bird Toss Ornithology
Creative birdhouse-themed throwing game.
- Vintage Wood Travel Games
A wooden travel set containing a few different board games.
- Domino Set
Quick DIY game you can make using scrap wood.
- Backyard Kerplunk
Brilliant project made with wood, plastic balls and wire mesh.
- Skee Ball Machine
Kind of a huge project to undertake, but would be an awesome game to own.
Homemade Board Game
To exercise your creativity you could invent your own board game, and the best way to start is to decide on a theme - for instance, this board game (shown above) has an Alaskan theme.
The best thing about DIY board games is that you don't have to worry about licenses and copyrights because you are only making one for personal use, so you can use all kinds of character images and TV or movie themes; from Harry Potter to the Powerpuff Girls!
Photo and game by Medinamom3.
Personalized Games & Creative Ideas
- Harry Potter Monopoly
I love this! You can revamp a current Monopoly board and add a theme of your choice.
- Custom 'Guess Who?'
Awesome idea for a personalized game, and it'd make a unique gift too.
- Hopscotch Mat
Use stencils and paint to make a game that can be used indoors.
- Hula Hoop Ring Toss
DIY washable beanbags made with beads filling.
- Spray Paint Twister
Giant twister game marked out on grass.
- Custom Cluedo
Fantastic hand-illustrated Cluedo game.
- Quidditch Pong
Hilarious Harry Potter version of beer pong.
- Balloon Boppers
Fun indoor balloon-hitting game.
- DIY Giant Jenga
Super fun tower game made simply with blocks of wood.
Paper Chess Set
Further Fun Ideas for Homemade Activities
- DIY Cement Dominoes
Mold your own playing pieces using an ice cube tray.
- Marshmallow Poppers
Recycle packaging materials to make this target shooting game.
- Slate Tic-Tac-Toe Board
Quality reusable game board made of slate tiles and wood.
- Rope Rings
How to make ring shapes from rope, to be used in a variety of games.
- Tabletop Mini-Golf
Awesome looking tabletop game made with green felt and pipe cleaners.
Fun Video Tutorials - For Making a Hovercraft, the Game 'Operation' & more!
Please Leave a Comment!
cyndi on August 01, 2015:
my husband just made the bean bag toss boards and they came out great.
thanks for the instructions
CherylsArt on March 17, 2014:
I love these home made game ideas. My daughter made a personalized game when she was in elementary school, and really liked playing it.