We’re so thankful that a lot of our favorite sports are back for the season, but that doesn’t mean we’re at the point of packed stadiums with mask-less fans quite yet. 2021 is still the year of the at-home tailgate—and we’re okay with it! We’ve loved coming up with new tailgate ideas for home festivities. There’s something even more special about gathering just a few close friends (or even just your family) to a COVID-friendly outdoor bash in the backyard, complete with hot home-cooked tailgate foods, accessible bathrooms, and a cozy place to take a quick snooze during half-time.
To make the big game even more fun, we’ve collected some of our favorite at-home tailgate games that keep the day flowing with excitement while having some socially-distant outdoor fun.
Check out these other essentials for hosting an at-home tailgate party this year for more awesome tailgate ideas.
11 Tailgate Games to Play at Home
1. Cornhole Toss
Every tailgate fan has played cornhole (aka “bags”) a time or two. It’s a super fun game that takes a certain level of skill, but newbies and pros alike can face each other in a cornhole tournament. The goal is to get your bean bag on the board and in the hole on the other side of the play area—sounds simple, but it’s quite a bit more challenging than that! We like this game because you can talk and socialize while playing, but it still gets pretty competitive. You can purchase or make a quality wood cornhole set for your backyard. Portable options are also available for future on-the-go tailgates!
Want to make your own cornhole toss game out of wood? Learn how to make a regulation cornhole set here—and then you can decorate it with your team’s colors to add even more spirit to your tailgate games!
2. Oversized Games
There’s something novel and entertaining about taking traditional tabletop games and making them giant to play in the backyard. I don’t know why it’s so funny to make small things big, but it’s always a crowd-pleaser.
Some of our favorite oversized tailgate games include:
- Jumbo Jenga
- Giant Connect 4
- Yard Dice
- Lifesize blowup bowling
- Inflatable ring toss (particularly this football horseshoe hat that’s sure to elicit some hearty laughs)
- Jumbo wood dominoes
(We provided links just so you can see what we’re talking about, but you can also do some Googling yourself. There are usually a few options available for each type of giant game, so you can find one that fits your style and price range.)
The weirdest (and possibly coolest) oversized lawn game we’ve seen is a huge game of human foosball!
Pong is one of those go-to tailgate games that can be fun for everyone. Whether you play with beer (if you’re over 21) or water, it’s a great way to get the blood moving and stir up some competitive spirits. You can set it up with some plastic cups and ping pong balls, or you can go giant (our favorite) with buckets and dodgeballs.
If you’re looking for unique tailgate ideas, you can also purchase some pong games, like this cool bucket ball game that includes different types of balls to vary gameplay. We also love this PutterBall golf pong set. You can even use your college-logo golf balls from Campus Colors for PutterBall! Or, if you prefer miniature games to oversized ones, check out this Grown Man mini party pong.
4. Throw Throw Burrito
This is a weird game that we are strangely obsessed with. If you and your buddies like a mix of card games and physical activity, then Throw Throw Burrito (by Exploding Kittens) is for you. It’s kind of like a mix between Go Fish and Dodgeball, where you go from matching cards to suddenly throwing inflatable burritos at your friends. If you’re looking for new (and bizarre) tailgate ideas to kick it up a notch, this one’s sure to be a hit.
Weird, fun card games like this have become a dorm room essential for first-year students.
About as classic as cornhole, horseshoes are a staple in lawn tailgate games. If you’re a huge fan of horseshoes, you can build a horseshoe pit right in your backyard for never-ending fun! If you’re less committed or don’t have the space, you can keep it simple with this AmazonBasics rubber portable horseshoe set.
Do you know the rules of horseshoes? Learn how to be a horseshoe master here.
6. Bottle Battle
We love that this game of balance gets harder as the day wears on… You just put a plastic water bottle or another unbreakable object atop a thin balancer, and the other team tries to knock it off with frisbees, bean bags, or whatever other soft throwable item you like. This is a portable game that’s great for larger outdoor spaces, and it’s fun both as a one-on-one or a team game.
KanJam got popular a few years ago, and it turned into an instant classic. While it started with a couple of guys in Buffalo, NY throwing a frisbee into garbage cans, KanJam is now one of the most popular tailgate games across the nation. Like Bottle Battle, you need some room for this one, so you can set the “kans” up far enough apart to throw frisbees at them. The goal is to get your frisbee to hit or go inside the garbage can on the other side, while also blocking the other team’s frisbee. First to 21 wins! It sounds way easier than it is, trust us.
Not sure what to get your tailgating friend for the holidays or birthday? KanJam and other tailgate games are always a fun option. For more ideas, check out this holiday gift guide for college sports fans.
Another newbie but goodie on the scene of tailgate games is Rollors. It’s both a game of chance and skill that’s great for all types of play styles. It’s similar to bocce or lawn bowling, but instead uses circular wooden “rollers.” Rollors is super portable and easy to set up, making it great for backyard tailgates and college campuses alike. Plus, it’s really easy to learn how to play, so even your buds with shorter attention spans will be able to pick up on the rules.
Ladderball, Ladder Golf, Ladder Toss, Hillbilly Golf… It has a lot of names, but the fun is always the same. This is a simple yet fun-filled game that’s great for social distancing while having a great time. Players take turns throwing “bolas” (golf balls connected by a rope) at a ladder that has three rungs. The goal is to wrap the bolas around each rung and score 21 points without going over. You can find the official rules of Ladder Golf here.
This fast-paced game is sure to keep you warm during even the coldest tailgates. (But we still recommend throwing on your college sweatshirt to show your pride and dodge the cold.) This baby of volleyball and foursquare is not for the faint of heart—but it is for the dedicated fans looking to get their own hearts pumping before the big game. Spikeball is essentially about spiking a tennis-sized ball onto a net on the ground, but it’s way more challenging and fun than it sounds. This has quickly become a hit for tailgates, parties, and even just staying fit with friends.
11. Costume Contest
One of our favorite tailgate ideas is to have a contest for who can show up to the party with the coolest costume or gear to show pride for their team. Winner gets the glory… and an extra hot dog. You can also give out school-themed prizes, like lanyards, logo flags, or other school-spirited accessories. If you want to win your costume contest, select your school from this list and check out all the awesome gear Campus Colors has to offer!
What are your favorite tailgate games to play at home?
Share this article with your friends (and tag @Campus Colors) to get stoked and choose which games you’ll play at your next tailgate!