Summer is a time for shirtless-ness and splendor, for ultraviolet rays and delightfully long days. If you’re going to usher in the warm season with a festive gathering, you’re going to want some goofy Memorial Day games to play with your guests. Every single idea that follows is presented with one global-sized asterisk, however, that none of these activities should be engaged in without first taking every safety precaution imaginable to prevent the spread of Covid. If you’re not careful, the virus is going to be playing darts with your immune system, and it doesn’t miss.
Hot Dog Eating Contest
Let’s start with the main event. A hot dog eating contest is the ultimate test of will, the greatest competition in human history. Our brave gladiators (hot dog eaters) will push the very limits of the physical form, hyperextending their stomachs with the taste of victory on the tips of their tongues, because lord knows they’re not really tasting the hot dogs.
Setup for this game will be a breeze; all you really need is a wiener surplus and a dream. Whether you boil, grill or roast those dogs doesn’t really matter because we’re looking for quantity, not quality. The integrity of this beautiful pastime must be preserved, so it is paramount that you ensure the contest is being scored properly. To cheat is to spit in the face of American hero Joey Chestnut.
I’d wager that every American adult knows what beer pong is, whether they’ve played it themselves or not. It can be a fun option for your Memorial Day shindig if that appeals to you. However, if you’re looking for a version that decidedly less lush, playing with a nonalcoholic beverage just won’t cut it. There need to be consequences. With beer, your opponent gets increasingly sloshy with each successful splash. However, if you’re playing with apple juice, for example, your opponent just has their thirst quenched.
That’s where BeanBoozled comes in. Beanboozled is a truly devious Jelly Belly conjuration that populates boxes of jelly beans with some normal, tasty flavors, and some dubious doppelgänger flavors that will absolutely ruin your day. It’s Russian roulette but with candy. Is this brown bean going to be chocolate pudding or canned dog food? Nothing heightens the sensory stakes quite like this, and the real joy comes from watching others lose their minds after consuming the rotten egg bean. Fill the cups with a few of these beans and let the social experiment begin.
If you call this game anything other than cornhole, you’re wrong. ESPN even airs the Cornhole World Championships. The caption for the video reads “At the ACO World Championships, Stacia Pugh was named Queen of Cornhole and Jeff Reynolds was named King of Cornhole” and I’ll never write anything funnier than that as long as live.
It is a staple at outdoor afternoon parties, and as such, it is probably the most obvious choice on this list. Still, don’t neglect the cornhole. If you’re feeling saucy you can even build your own boards.
Now this one gets the biggest Covid warning possible. Under no circumstances should you play this game with a large number of people outside of your normal social circle. To play this game with a bunch of other people is to give the Coronavirus the spinner.
Still, if you can manage to do it safely, this can be one of the most truly silly Memorial Day games in your repertoire. Few games make bigger fools of their participants than twister, so why not play it outside where even strangers passing by can witness your humiliation?
Belly Flop Competition
Obviously, this idea isn’t as accessible as the others since it requires a pool. Well, I suppose you could do it without a pool, but unless you have a foam pit in your yard, you’re going to need a medic on standby. Still, aquatic acrobatics aficionados will rejoice in the jiggling jubilation of the belly flop.
You can really make an event out of it, just like the hot dog eating contest. Appoint judges, make giant scorecards and clear the splash zone, because things are about to get intense. The art of the belly flop is a delicate one. You want massive impact with minimal pain. Mastery of this bought with buoyancy requires time and dedication. The road to perfection is long and arduous, filled to the brim with pitfalls and regular falls, but it will be worth it in the end. Perhaps the real belly flops were the friends we made along the way.
One great thing about wiffle ball is that it’s cheap. You can probably find a bat and ball at your local dollar store, and bases can be literally anything you have lying around the yard. That birdbath over there? That’s first base. Second base is where the dog peed too many times so the grass is dead. Third base is grandma.
Another plus is that when it comes to wiffle ball, fun and athletic ability are inversely related. If you’ve got that one person at the party that played a little baseball in college and desperately needs everyone to know about it, they’re going to ruin the game. If everyone is around the same relative (lack of) skill, however, this game becomes a great bonding experience as you hack wildly at a plastic ball. The family that flails together stays together.
If you’ve ever played regular Jenga before then you know that this game is all about anticipation. The tension builds with the removal of each piece. As the structural integrity of the tower decreases in stability, the adrenaline coursing through your veins increases until finally the laws of physics and your senses become overwhelmed, and the tower crumbles to the ground in an instant. Now apply that release to a much larger scale and you have yourself an outdoor game for the ages.