Counteract the cake and ice cream with these fun, fast-paced, outdoor party games. Most are easily adaptable for kids of different ages and skill levels. And remember that with simple props or just word choices, you can customize an outdoor party game: Invent a version of tag or a relay race that matches your party's theme.
Tails: Give each child an old sock to tuck into her back pocket or waistband. The object of the game is to grab other players' "tails" without losing your own. Any player who loses a tail must sit down, but if another player passes close enough, the tail-less player can grab himself a new tail and re-enter the game. This game is ideal if your outdoor party has an animal theme! (See more versions of tails, aka sock tag.)
Tug of Water: Set up a sprinkler in the middle of your yard. Divide players into two teams and have each group grab the end of a rope or hose. Teams then try to pull their opponents into the sprinkler's spray.
Nature Scavenger Hunt: Draw up a list of items found outdoors (red leaf, green leaf, rock bigger than your thumb, etc.). Distribute to individual party guests, or form teams, and have players fan out to find the items. Try giving prizes for creative interpretations as well as for completing the list.
Jump Rope Relay: You need two ropes for this outdoor party game. Split players into two teams and establish a finish line. Give each team one jump rope. When you say "Go!" the first two players from each team race to the goal line and back, skipping rope; they then hand off the rope to the next player and the race continues. (See more relay race ideas).
Water Balloon Toss: Divide party guests into teams of two; teams line up, facing each other, a few feet apart (each pair should be an equal distance apart). Give each team a water balloon. The first player tosses the balloon to his partner, then both take one step back. Keep tossing and retreating until only one team has an unpopped balloon.
Buddy Tag: This outdoor party game requires at least 6 players (more is better!). To begin, one person is It and one is the runner. Everyone else finds a buddy, links arms, and then scatters around the playing field. "It" then tries to tag the runner. The runner must link arms with a pair of buddies before he gets tagged. When the runner finds a buddy, the buddy on the other side of the pair then becomes the runner. If the runner can't link to a buddy before he's tagged, he becomes It and It becomes the runner.
Pirates' Treasure: This is a pirate-themed variation on Capture the Flag, in which players try to grab beanbag "treasures" from opposing teams. Get creative and modify it for almost any party theme (puppies, superheroes, princesses).