Every summer, I start thinking up some goofball or offbeat ways to enjoy our backyard — after all, summer is the time for relaxing and having fun, right? Granted, we have a full acre, so our options are wider than most, but there are plenty of possible activities for those with standard urban or suburban yards.
Here are my favorites — some of these I’ve done, and some are on my wish-list of things to do, but they all build community while having a great time!
- Host an outdoor movie night. This is one I’m hoping to pull off this summer! You’ll need a projector, a screen, and your laptop to play the movie. While most people have the laptop, projectors and screens are not typical items in most households. Borrow from a friend, ask your church if they have equipment you can check out, or rent one from an audio-visual rental center. Great family-friendly summer movies include Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Grease, and any of the Indiana Jones movies.
- Have a campout. This is great fun for people of all ages, and it costs next to nothing. Keep it to your family, or go all out and invite a few friends to pop their tents up on the lawn. Sing songs, cook dinner, and tell stories around a camp fire, catch fireflies, and dance on the grass. Plan for lights out at a decent hour to avoid disturbing neighbors, then wake up to an easy breakfast you’ve made ahead.
- Play lawn games. Dust off the old lawn games, or pop over to the dollar store to load up on new ones. Croquet is an old favorite, as is badmitton, cornhole, washing-pitching, and horseshoes. Create stations for friends and family to visit, and fill up a plastic kids’ pool for the wee ones. Plan a simple cookout and ask your guests to bring their favorite side-dish for easy family fun.
- Throw a neighborhood happy hour in your front yard. Okay, I admit, I’ve been talking about doing this one for ages now. We routinely have our neighbors from across the street over for an adult beverage, but what I have in mind is more neighborhood-wide. Put out an invitation on your neighborhood’s list-serve or Facebook group (or do the old-fashioned thing and tape simple invites to their front doors) to let everyone know they are welcome to stop by with their favorite beverage in hand between 6 – 8 pm this Friday night. Keep it simple and meet new people in your front yard! Who knows? You might start a trend.