Piggyback race

One of the most entertaining races you'll ever see in Finland is the famous "wife-carrying race." A very trusting wife is literally flung over her husband's shoulders and off they go over an obstacle course. While you might not have the strength (or courage) for this, you could get kids to hop up on each other's backs and run a certain distance over soft ground.

Tire rolling

In England there's the annual cheese-rolling race. A huge wheel of cheese is rolled down a very steep hill and contestants chase after it. It's actually pretty dangerous, with a few broken bones occurring each year. You could adopt this to a safer race by rolling a tire along the lawn on a much flatter surface.

Egg throwing

In 1322 England, an abbot in Lincolnshire offered eggs to those who went to church. From this tradition came the annual egg throw, where contestants would toss eggs to each other across the river. This can be adapted to using balls covered in slime or soap to make catching a little trickier! Just choose a suitable distance for kids of different ages to join in.

Lawnmower racing

Irishman Jim Gavin first came up with the idea to take part in a lawnmower race. While this was for ride-on mowers, you could opt for a cordless handheld model and either time how quickly participants mow a strip of lawn or invite neighbors around with their mowers and set out a course. Whoever reaches the end of the course first is the winner -- the benefit is somebody gets their yard mowed for free, although it might not be very fair, This is for the older kids and adults in the family.

Snail racing

Originating in France, the snail race is a game of enthusiasm, patience, and sometimes disappointment when a snail doesn't behave. There are annual championships that you can get inspiration from but you could try this with other garden bugs, too. This is great for all the nature-loving kids in the family.

Boot blast

Grab your rubber rain boots (or wellies, as they're called in the UK) for a great game where contestants have to see how far they can throw a boot across the yard. They can choose a left or right boot (none with steel tips or heavy soles!) and all boots "blasted" must be the same size.

Tug of war

This is great fun when two families with similar ages and strength get involved. Just grab a long rope, hold on tight, dig your heels in and pull! If you choose an extra-long rope you'll be able to manage social distancing, too. The origins of this sport are more unsure but it was practiced in India, China, Greece and Egypt and now takes place throughout the world.

Three-legged race

If your kids are fighting, set them up for a three-legged race and they'll have to stay united. Apparently a Hispanic tradition, this race where kids tie their legs to each other and run a course is so much fun. It's great when a team share the same stride (twins might be great at this), but it's also pretty hysterical when a pair can't go more than a few feet without falling over.

The sack race

For this fun event in British schools, kids climb into a potato sack (or a large cloth bag), or even a large pillowcase for younger participants, and jump their way to the finishing line. Again there will be the odd fall, but it's great fun and doesn't require kids to be speed demons, so they don't get too grumpy if they lose.

The egg and spoon race

This is a perfect example of slow and steady wins the race. In this event that dates back to Victorian England, contestants have to run a course with an egg carefully balanced on a spoon. Careful, no cheating: eggs cannot be hard boiled or stuck to the spoon! To avoid wasting food, you can swap the egg for a plastic or chocolate egg and kids can get to eat the treat once they make it to the finish line.