Here are my ideas for EASY summer party games. Toss these at your crowd of children, sit back, and relax with a chilled drink. For most of these, all you need is dirt and water.
PS - These are also good for your OWN kids, any day that you are feeling lazy (so for me, EVERY day).
No yard? No free space in the garden? No problem. Get a big container (or a bunch of little ones) and fill it / them with dirt. Kids can plant flowers, vegetables, or even herbs. Look for fun-smelling herbs like chocolate mint or fennel.
If your kids are too young for planting, they can still have fun. Give them some natural objects to decorate their planter with - think rocks, pine cones, or branches.
If you have a burst of energy, you can also stick a little house in there for fairies, or for Lego people! Toss in some plastic animals or tiny dolls, and you've got hours of entertainment.
This is the best because it is SO EASY. Give kids a big container of water - any pot or bowl will do. Raid your kitchen: toss in some cups, spoons, funnels, etc. Kids will have a BLAST.
If you are feeling really ambitious, you can add some food colouring to the mix. You can also throw in some ice (or even ice coloured with food colouring!) to kick it up a notch.
Give the kids some water and a paintbrush. They “paint” the sidewalk with the water. NO CLEAN-UP. Enough said.
Sand or Fake Sand or Rocks
Kids like to dig. Give them sand or small rocks (both available for cheap at the hardware store). If you have very small children, use something edible like cornmeal or oatmeal. Dump it in a pile in your yard, or fill up a big plastic bin or a large pot. Give the kids some sand toys and plastic animals. Hours of fun!
Print out this scavenger hunt sheet with items for the kids to find. Try one with stuff they can find in your yard or at the park: a bird, a leaf, a stick, etc. If you forget to print this, you can simply shout these things out from the porch where you are chilling out.
I also like to do Colour Hunts in the summer. Again, I sit on the porch and yell at the kids like a drill sargeant: “Find me something yellow! Find me something purple!”
This game does NOT work in the winter - the kids get pretty tired of finding things that are white or grey, our only wintertime options.
Back Yard Camping
Set up a tent in the back yard and toss some sleeping bags inside. Guaranteed adventure! Younger kids can participate, too – they can get into a tent for some bedtime stories with a flashlight before heading inside for bed.
Even if you don’t have a tent, you can still throw down some blankets and star-gaze. Break out some glow bracelets for extra fun!
Mud Pie Kitchen
Embrace summer messiness and make a mud pie kitchen. Give the kids some kitchen bowls and utensils. Add dirt and water. Done.
Digging for Treasure
Grab a big plastic bin and fill it with dirt. Bury stuff. Bury some plastic jewels, and your kids can be pirates digging for treasure. Bury some plastic dinosaurs, and your kids are paleontologists. Either way, you are mom of the year.
Digging for Treasure… In Ice!
Fill a plastic bin or bowl with water. Toss a bunch of toys in and freeze it. Throw the resulting block of ice in the yard, and have the kids chip away to free the toys! (With plastic implements, of course. Injuries would mean you have to get up.)
For more summer fun, check out 25 Summer Loot Bag Ideas.
Full Disclosure: I am lazy and do these things all the time. This post is not sponsored, but if someone wants to give me money, I will take it.