Everything You Need for the Most Epic Backyard Olympics This Summer

Let the games begin!

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backyard olympics 2024 UNI
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The Summer Olympics—taking place from July 26 through August 11, 2024 in Paris, France—may come only every four years, but that doesn’t mean you can’t host the ultimate backyard Olympics as often as you like. Channel your inner athlete and challenge your friends and family to a series of games and competitions all themed around your favorite summer Olympic events, be it swimming like Katie Ledecky, doing backflips like Simone Biles or sprinting your heart out like Allyson Felix. Here, a list of everything you need to pull off the greatest backyard games of all time.

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The most important part of any backyard Olympics is, of course, the games and competitions. And while you can absolutely recreate your favorite events if you like (like relay track races or doubles tennis), there’s nothing wrong with the old classic yard games like a three-legged race or cornhole. Choose a mix of events that highlight different skills (we want to keep things fair, after all) like a water slide race for the kiddos and a trivia match for the adults. Grab a poster board to make a score sign so everyone knows which team/country is in the lead. Here, nine of the best games and activities to add to your list of events.

This pastel-hued, supersized bowling set comes with six pins and one giant ball you can set up along a driveway or backyard spot. The pins all come with weighted bases to help keep them upright on windy days and can be set up however you like to make your bowling competition more or less difficult. You can even add more obstacles along the path for a bonus challenge.

Go head-to-head with this two-sided water slide as you and your competitors race toward the pool on the end. The slide is a whopping 22.5-feet long and comes with two bodyboards to make your sliding even faster. All you need to do to set it up is secure the slide with the six included ground stakes, then hook the slide up to your garden hose and voilà! P.S. There’s also a three-lane option ($45) that’s also 22.5 feet, and a 32.5-foot long double lane version ($50) if either one is a better fit for your crew.

You don’t need a ton of space, or even daylight, to play this old-school favorite game. The set comes with eight balls embedded with LED lights, as well as two light-up maker balls and a handy carrying case for storage. Of course, you can also use this set to play nighttime croquet, as markers for a relay race or for a late-night game of catch.

This 11-piece set comes with a 3-by-32 foot net you can use to play badminton, volleyball or any other net-based backyard sport you like, as well as four badminton rackets, four shuttlecocks, one volleyball, one pump for inflating the volleyball and a handy storage bag. The net is reportedly super easy to set up and can be positioned at multiple heights from about 5 feet all the way up to 8 feet.

Speaking of net sports, pickleball has truly become the sport of the summer, meaning no backyard Olympics would be complete without a tournament of its own. With four paddles (and four balls) you can play doubles or one-on-one, and the brand notes these work well for both adults and children. P.S. They also come in blue-and-white if you want a second color to differentiate between teams.

Embrace your inner Bridgerton and break out this classic yard game, suitable for all ages. Position the metal wickets at random intervals across the lawn then get to whacking! This colorful set can be played by up to six people at a time and also comes with a durable carrying bag for easy transportation should you want to bring it to the local park or beach.

Design your own six-hole golf course with this hilarious and fun oversize bucket golf kit. It comes with six buckets and flags, six balls, six tee boxes, a scorecard and a durable bag to pack it all into between games. The only thing you need to provide are golf clubs, which you can pull from a mini golf set or make your own using any long, stick-like item you have and a rectangular piece of cardboard.

A tried-and-true classic, cornhole can be set up anywhere and is great for all ages. For some added fun, use markers, stickers or paint to customize your boards for each team. You can even turn that into a competition of its own—best team board gets extra points toward their dreams of Olympic gold.

Another old-school lawn game, ladder toss is super easy to set up and even easier to learn. Just toss the bola (aka, the two balls connected by a rope) and try to get it to wrap around the rungs. And when you’re done, it all breaks down into a 40-inch-long carrying case you can tuck into the garage and break out whenever the competitive spirit hits.

Furniture and Foods Stuffs

Beyond sports and games, you’re also going to want to ensure spectators and judges are comfortable with ample seating and food/drink for everyone. That might be investing in a range of beach or camping chairs, or it might mean upgrading your patio furniture setup to something a bit more posh. And don’t forget to provide some shade with an umbrella and cool hydration with a handy cooler. 

Hydration and sustenance are a key component of any athletic endeavor (including bucket golf), so be sure to pick up a good cooler to stock up on drinks, snacks and other goodies for teams to grab throughout the day. This innovative new model can fit up to 36 drinks and doesn’t require ice to keep your treats chilled—simply transfer your LaCroix cans from your fridge to your Oyster cooler and they will remain cold for hours. It’s also shockingly lightweight and the lid can open from either side for easy access.

This highly-rated camping chair folds up quite neatly for easy storage, and is surprisingly comfortable, according to reviewers. The mesh material also provides excellent breathability to keep spectators and Olympic judges comfortable as they cheer on their athletes. It also comes with an attached carry strap to make it easy to move around the backyard so you don’t miss any of your favorite events.

Made from opaque, fade-resistant fabric, this 9-foot-tall patio umbrella can provide shade for you and your loved ones whenever you need a break from the action. It opens and closes with a crank lift and can be easily tilted to the ideal angle throughout the afternoon.

Don’t have a ton of extra seating space to work with? This wooden picnic table can be easily transformed into a bench when your Olympic judges need a seat, then flipped back into a picnic table for a lunch break. It also has a hole in the center for an umbrella to give you sun cover.

If you’re looking to upgrade your backyard in the long term, why not invest in these cushy striped loungers? They’re surprisingly lightweight, with a slipcover made of machine-washable, waterproof material that’s also resistant to sun damage and fading. Plus, they fit right in with one of the biggest backyard trends of 2024.

Fun Extras

Whether they’re limited strictly to only the winners or being distributed to everyone involved, prizes are a necessary part of any Olympic games. You can go for cute with gold, silver and bronze medals or laurel-leaf crowns, or go the homemade route with sweet treats or a homecooked dinner going to the victors. Candy was a popular vote among PureWow editors, as were gift cards and other small prizes. Have fun picking out something that feels special to your group, then consider adding these four bonus items to the mix to really amp up the fun.

Decorate your space or outline a relay race course with these cute Olympic flags. They come in packs of 12 and stand 8 inches tall. If you really want to go all out on decorations, add this “Go For Gold” streamer set ($14) and international flag garland ($20) to cart as well.

Just because the sun’s gone down doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. These LED string lights provide 40 Lumens of warm, decorative light to keep the fun going even longer. And at 48 feet long, they can stretch across your patio or back porch with ease. They’re also weather- and water-resistant so you can keep them up all summer long.

Keep pesky bugs at bay with this wireless mosquito repeller. It uses a scentless, heat-activated repellent to create a 20-foot bug-free zone wherever you place it, and it includes a dimmable light, so you can lounge well past sunset. (Pro tip: Set it up for 15 to 20 minutes before you head outside.)

Keep the party going after dark with a late night showing of the Olympics themselves or Olympic-theme movies like Cool Runnings, Miracle or The Boys in the Boat. This petite projector can connect directly to your Wifi to stream the programming of your choice, and can sync up with speakers via Bluetooth.



Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...

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