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Throwing your kids or teens a summer party and running out of game ideas? Water balloon games to the rescue!
Each of the games listed has two variations. You get double the fun for one easy preparation. And believe me, adults love these games, too.
The only thing you need to do before the party is to buy a large enough supply of water balloons.
I recommend you don't buy just any ol' bunch of water balloons. Instead, go for the "Zuru Bunch O Balloons." They come with a special adapter that lets you attach a whole bundle of balloons to your garden hose and fill them all at once.
They claim that you can fill a hundred balloons in one minute. That could be a game in itself… who fills most balloons in one minute?
(For a great demonstration on how to best fill these Bunch O Balloons, skip down to the end of the page.)
So, what are some water balloon games? First up, the classic water balloon race.
The water balloon race is best played with teams of at least 2 kids each. The more players in each team, the more fun. The goal: run the mapped out course at top speed, but without breaking the water balloon.
Map out a course. This can be as simple as running from one end of your garden to the other and back. Or line up some obstacles (toys, buckets, chairs) to turn it into a slalom race.
Have several water balloons ready per team at the starting point.
How to play:
Let the runners of each team queue behind the starting line. When you give the sign, the first in each team picks up a water balloon and runs the course.
The object is to run the whole course without breaking the balloon. If the kid succeeds, she or he hands the balloon to the next runner of her or his team. What happens if the balloon pops en route? The player must get a new balloon and start over.
The first team to complete the course wins.
When the kids have finished a round or two of the classic water balloon race, you can turn it up a notch by adding a wooden spoon to the game.
Instead of holding the water balloon in their hands throughout the race, they need to balance it on a large spoon. While the first game was more about speed, this variation challenges the player's patience and sense of balance.
This is a super easy game for kids of all ages. It can be played individually, or with a partner.
All you need for this summer fun are some water balloons.
How to play individually:
Have the kids toss their balloon up into the air and catch it again. Take a video or photos to "proof" who tossed their balloon the highest!
How to play with a partner:
Each kid (or adult) chooses a partner. Start by standing close together across from each other and toss the balloon between the two of you.
Slowly move further apart with each toss. The pair that can move apart the furthest without popping their water balloon wins.
For this variation of the water balloon toss game you need at least 4 players and two towels in addition to your water balloon.
Two players hold a large towel tight at the ends. Place the balloon onto the towel. The other two players stand a few feet away from the first team, their towel also stretched between them.
The first team now throws the water balloon with their towel up into the air and towards the other team, who try to catch the balloon with their towel. It's not as easy as it sounds. It takes some practice and is more suited for older kids or their parents.
Another simple water balloon game that challenges and improves your aim.
Place two same sized plastic buckets in a row, a few feet apart from each other. Fill plenty of water balloons and place them next to the "starting" line, about 10 feet (3 m) away from the buckets.
You'll also need a stopwatch (every smart phone usually has an app pre-installed).
How to play:
There are always two players who compete against each other. Each player gets the same amount of balloons and has got one minute of time to try and throw their balloons into their bucket.
The object of the game is to not just land the balloons in the bucket, but also to burst them to have the fullest bucket (with water) at the end of the one minute.
Played just like the game above, but now the goal is to land as many balloons as possible in the bucket without bursting them.
This variation requires good aim paired with a gentle throw.
That's one of those water balloon games where you will definitely get wet. I recommend you play it in a bathing suit or shorts and old t-shirt!
You need at least 2 pairs of players and several water balloons. If you want to upgrade the difficulty level of the game, you can fill a regular 9 or 11 inch latex balloon with water.
How to play:
Two players stand back to back and place the water balloon (or regular water filled balloon) between their backs. They can interlace their arms to get a better hold of each other. The goal is to pop the balloon as fast as possible.
The couple who pops their balloon first, wins. Told you you'd get wet with this game!
Instead of popping the balloon between their backs, the players have to try not to pop the water balloon while they race from start to finish line.
You've still got your race course set up from the very first game, right? If not, just mark the start and finish line with a rope.
If you have more than 4 people, divide them into two teams. As soon as one couple reaches the finish line - with the intact water balloon between their backs - the next couple starts.
If the balloon pops, the player pair has to go back to the start line, pick up a new balloon, and race again.
A game where teamwork and speed are key.
For a water balloon relay race you'll need at least four people, two chairs and a bunch of balloons.
How to play:
Divide players into teams and set up a chair for each. Place a water balloon on the chair and put several spare balloons on the ground next to the chair.
After you give the start signal, the first player from each team runs to the chair and sits on the balloon until it pops. Then they set a new balloon on the chair before running back to their team and tagging the next player.
The winning team is the one that pops all their balloons first.
Instead of placing the water balloon on a chair, put it on the ground inside of a hula hoop. This will add some extra silliness to the game as the player has to plop down on the ground to burst the balloon.
It's probably best played with younger kids whereas the chair variation is more suitable for adults and teens.
If you have very few people, you can also play this as an individual race. Whoever pops their balloon the fastest, wins.
An old time classic game with a wet twist.
It's best suited for a larger group of players, at least four. You'll need chairs, some water balloons and a device to play music on (phone, tape recorder).
How to play:
Arrange the same number of chairs as you have players in a circle and have the kids sit down. Hand them one water balloon and start the music.
The goal of the game is to pass the balloon to the next person as fast as possible, as if it were a hot potato. When the music stops and you hold the balloon, you're out. And not only that, you have to burst the balloon over your head!
This is a fun variation of the traditional game where you don't need any chairs.
Place a number of balloons on the lawn or yard, one less than the number of people playing. Start the music and have the players walk around the pile of balloons in circles. When the music stops, they must run and grab a balloon.
The player who didn't get a balloon runs for cover because — after a 10 second head start — the other players throw their water balloons at him or her.
A simple game that requires (and strengthens) coordination, flexibility and speed!
Use garden furniture, pool noodles and hula hoops to set up an obstacle course. For example, place the pool noodles between the backs or seats of two chairs to create obstacles in different heights.
Intersperse with hula hoops or ropes to mark off small areas.
How to play:
Before the game starts, clarify the rules, e.g. where do they need to go over or under an obstacle, where do they need to step only within the hula hoops or marked off areas.
The player's goal is to take a water balloon safely through the obstacle course. Whoever makes it through the course without bursting their balloon is a winner.
If that seems too easy, time people. The contestant who completes the course the fastest and without popping the balloon wins.
If there's no time to set up obstacles for the course, here's a super easy variation of this water balloon game.
Choose an area for the game and place water balloons randomly all over the ground. The players line up on one side of the "course." The goal is to run as fast as possible from one side to the other without stepping on and breaking any balloons.
After each round, make the area smaller and move the balloons closer together. Keep decreasing the play area until the entire space is almost completely filled with balloons!
Another classic game and certainly a favorite for the LeBron James or Michael Jordan fans among your young guests.
This game is of course most fun when you have a proper basketball hoop. A fixed one in your yard would only be suitable for older kids or adults though.
If you want to play water balloon basketball with younger kids on your lawn, I recommend investing in a basketball set made of plastic that you can move around and adjust in height.
How to play:
Kids take turns throwing the water balloons into the basketball hoop. Whenever they succeed, they get another shot but have to step a little further away.
Don't have a basketball hoop? Use a bucket, basket or box instead. Place the empty container on the floor or on a chair.
The players take turns trying to toss the water balloon into the bucket. If the balloon lands in the bucket, the player steps a foot back and tries again.
Who manages to throw the most balloons into the container from the furthest distance is declared the winner.
Do you like playing boules (also known as bocce or petanque)? Here's the water balloon variation.
Set up a target. You could draw several circles arranged like an archery target board on your driveway with chalk. Or simply place a bottle filled with sand, a somewhat heavy toy that can get wet or a hula hoop on the lawn.
How to play:
The players position themselves at a predefined line several feet or meters away from the target. The further away, the more difficult it gets to hit the target.
The goal is to throw the water balloon as close to the target as possible. The person who comes closest in each round is declared the winner. You can also award extra points for hitting the target.
This is a great game to help younger kids learn numbers while having fun! To get the most out of this game, have the kids draw the targets themselves.
Hand them a piece of sidewalk chalk and let them write the numbers from one to ten (or higher, depending on their age) on the driveway and circle each number.
Next, call out a number and the player has to throw the water balloon towards the circle with the right number.
A fantastic game for birthday parties on a hot summer day. Extra bonus: no sugar involved!
Fill several regular 11 inch balloons with water and tie them with a tight knot. Don't use water balloons. They break too easily.
As an extra surprise, you could hide little plastic figurines in some of the balloons (instead of the traditional piñata sweets).
String a strong rope between two trees or some other sturdy structure in your garden. Tie the balloons directly to the rope or use ribbon or twine to attach them to the rope.
How to play:
You're all set to begin. All you need now is something to hit the balloons with. The safest option would be a plastic baseball bat. I've also seen people use wooden sticks, broom handles or patio umbrella poles.
Just make sure that all party guests stand clear of the person swinging the stick at the balloon!
To take the game up a notch for older kids or adults, tie a blindfold over the players eyes, then spin them around three times before they can whack the balloons.
You'll see some stumbling around before the "whacker" finds their bearings again and hits in the right direction!
You'll probably remember playing dodgeball during PE classes at your primary or high school? Replace the regular ball with water balloons and you've got water balloon dodge ball.
Divide players into two teams. Mark off the playing area and draw a center line. Place a bucket of water balloons at the back of each team's half.
How to play:
Like in regular dodgeball, the goal of the game is to eliminate all members of the opposing team by hitting them with a water balloon. To stay in the game, you need to "dodge the ball / water balloon" (hence the name).
When you're hit and the water balloon pops, you're out. If the water balloon doesn't burst, you can continue playing.
The team that has the "last (wo)man standing" on the playing field wins.
There you have it! 21 of the best water balloon games that you can prepare in less than 10 minutes.
Before you head out to play, watch this video for great tips on how to fill these pre-prepared water balloons. It's actually a review between two brands.
The "Easy Einstein" balloons aren't being sold anymore, only the "Bunch O Balloons" (which, luckily, did a bit better in that review anyway!).
Don't forget to pin this page for later! There will be another summer next year!
Do you have a favorite water balloon game idea that's not yet in my list? Please share in the comments and I'll add it.