By Sandi Gohn
With warmer weather just around the corner, it’s time to start brainstorming new and inventive ways to make your outdoor summer get-togethers unforgettably fun for guests of all ages.
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We put together a list of five family-friendly games you can play this at your next BBQ. All you need is a T-shirt (or a few) and a sense of adventure:
1. Frozen T-Shirt Game
A favorite of young service members at USO-hosted events in Southwest Asia, the frozen T-shirt game is a perfect way to kick off any backyard party.
To play, a day before the party, tie a knot in each shirt, soak the T-shirts in water, and fold them up into a ball while wet and place them in the freezer. The next day, when it’s time to play the game, remove the T-shirts from the freezer and one shirt to each participant. When the gamemaster says go, the players must try to unfold the T-shirt. The first player to unfold the frozen shirt and put it on wins the game.
2. Human Chain T-Shirt Race
A more challenging version of the hoola-hoop game, the human chain T-shirt race will get even the toughest crowd giggling within the first few minutes.
To play, organize all players into two equal teams and have them line up back-to-back. Give the first person in line for each team a T-shirt and ask them to put it on. When the gamemaster says go, each person wearing the T-shirt must turn around, grab the hands of their teammate behind them and – with the help of the rest of their team – transfer the shirt off of their body onto their teammates body without letting go of hands. Teams will then continue transferring the shirt in this fashion until the last teammate in line is wearing the shirt. The first team to successfully transfer the shirt to the last person in line wins.
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3. Wet T-Shirt Relay Race
The wet T-shirt relay race is the perfect way to cool off on a hot, summer afternoon.
To play, fill two large buckets with water and place them 20 feet away from the starting line. Organize all players into two equal teams and have them form two back-to-back lines. Give each team a T-shirt. When the gamemaster says go, each the first player for each team must take the shirt to their bucket, soak the shirt in water, put the shirt on, run back to their team, take the shirt off and hand it to their next teammate. This process repeats until each team member has gone. The first team to have all its players finish the process and cross the finish line wins.
4. Human Pinata T-Shirt Game
The human pinata T-shirt game has been a favorite of summer family reunions for years.
To play, grab a T-shirt, a bag of candy and a hot glue gun. Hot glue individual pieces of candy to the back and front of the shirt, making the shirt as full as you’d like. When its time to play, have the “human pinata” put on the prepared shirt and stand in front of the gamemaster. Have the rest of the players congregate behind the gamemaster. When the gamemaster says go, the “human pinata” must run away from the rest of the players while the players must chase the “human pinata” and try to take pieces of candy off of his or her shirt. The game is over when the “human pinata” has no more candy - or is too tired to run away anymore.
5. Together T-Shirt Race
A perfect way to help partygoers get to know each other, the together T-shirt race is a hilarious icebreaker.
To play, divide partygoers into teams of two and have them stand behind a start line. Distribute a large T-shirt to each team. When the gamemaster says go, each team must put on the shirt together (i.e. both team members must be squeezed inside the shirt) run to a pre-determined point 20 feet way and come back to the finish line. The first pair to complete the task – while still both wearing the shirt – wins.
The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.
A version of this story originally appeared on USO.org in 2018. It has been updated in 2020.
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