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text & photography by  LAURA KAESSHAEFER

Summer isn’t going anywhere yet! Time to get to the nearest beach, pool, or lawn and get your game on. Not to knock the plastic-and-pricey aisle of your local mega-store, but we suggest making your own games this summer. We took some of our favorite classic games (scatch – remember it?!, tug-of-war, simple toss) and translated them into 3 DIYs for your backyard. Supplies for each craft ring in at under $15 and require less than 3 steps – win/win in our book.

Whether it’s an outdoor summer fête or a last-minute trip to the beach with friends, the games below are sure to keep you busy during the dog days of summer. A little competition never hurt anyone, right?



  • Pickle Ball Paddles, $11.99 fromamazon.com (or, use a set you have at home that you are willing to part with)
  • Tennis balls, (or, for the poppy colors pictured, try these, $13.41 from amazon.com)
  • Adhesive Velcro, Hook sides only in: 1-7/8 Industrial Strength Black Coins (4-pack), $3.47 from homedepot.com
  • Sticky-back tapes in blue and red, both ½ inch and 1 inch, from 81 cents per yard, textol.com

Remember scatch? The game with the neon Velcro mit that swept the 1990s? It was right up there with Skip It! That game is hard to find these days, so enter a DIY-riff on the classic using simple wooden pickle ball paddles. Similar concept, but you create and design the sticky Velcro side. You’ll only need the “hook” side of an adhesive Velcro set, which is the rougher, less-fuzzy side of a traditional pair.

The possibilities are endless on this one: mix and match colored Velcro dots, stripes and shapes to create fun patterns on your paddle. Lay paddles on a flat work surface. Before you remove the adhesive backing from the Velcro, you should have a plan.

First mock up a few options on top of your paddle with the adhesive backing still on. Snap a picture of your mock-up for reference when you’re ready to stick ‘em.

Once you’ve decided on a pattern (or two, or three), carefully trim Velcro to fit the size of your paddle. If you’re using dots, you may want to cut a few in half to hug the surface edges. Adhere Velcro to paddle, trimming any pieces that hang off the sides a bit.

Note: for extra stick,

  1. cover a good portion of your paddle with Velcro.
  2. tug at the tennis ball hairs a bit to loosen them from the surface of the ball.


Pool games don’t have to be complicated. This DIY certainly embraces that: two simple steps = hours of entertainment.


  • Intex Transparent Tubes in Aqua and Pink, $1.85 from sunplay.com
  • Large adhesive numbers, Michaels.com
  • Standard wiffle or tennis balls

Inflate inner tubes (a hand pump speeds this up!) in a variety of colors. Choose any range of numbers and carefully remove the adhesive backing from each.

Affix numbers to the tops of the inner tubes and smooth into place. Disperse tubes at one end of a pool with numbers visible. From the opposite end of the pool, toss wiffle or tennis ball into tubes – points go to those who land the ball in the center of the tube.

Highest scorer wins! It helps to have a ball boy or girl on the opposite side to keep score and return balls to the other side.


A game of tug of war may bring you straight back to summer camp, color war or family reunions (once side inevitably falls over like dominos). This glammed up version incorporates tassels made from crepe paper and colored duck tape (a la Confetti System’s breath-taking garlands). Perfect for an outdoor summer party (we highly recommend playing barefoot in freshly cut grass)!


  • Boating rope, at least 2 inches in diameter – hit up your local hardware store!
  • Crepe paper, in white and metallic silver from castleintheair.biz – note: Castle in the Air has the most amazing array of crepe papers. Mix and match colors to your hearts desire– stunning metallics, too!
  • Duct tape in white, michaels.com
  • Scissors
  • Clear Tape

Start by making crepe paper tassels. Cut a rectangle out of crepe paper measuring 18 inches by 9 inches (alter this accordingly: larger rectangle = larger tassel). Fold in half to create a square.

Make vertical cuts (to create thin strips), about .5 inches apart stopping about 2 inches above the crepe fold (do not cut through the fold). Once thin strips have been created across the entire shape, unfold and lay flat.

Roll crepe paper in a tight bundle, then fold in half leaving a loop at the top.

Make multiples and slip them over rope before closing off: twist the loop to closed the tassel, affix tape where necessary to keep it in place.

For a cleaner look, you’ll want to tape off the ends of the rope using white duct tape.