6 fun games to play at your next backyard bash


backyard croquet

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Backyard barbecues and family picnics are in full swing. Food, drinks and music are all essential party ingredients, but after a while, you might want to have something for your guests to do other than chug beer and catch up on one another’s lives. Next time you invite everyone over to your place play some of these fun outdoor games. No backyard? No problem! Some of these are even portable enough to take to the park!


1. Croquet

If you’re looking to class up your BBQ a bit, get a garden party vibe going with a game of croquet. You use a croquet mallet to hit balls through a series of arches, eventually hitting a peg. Go full-on pop culture cuteness with this adorable Alice in Wonderland-inspired DIY tutorial courtesy of Home Depot, or jazz up an existing kit, such as the Franklin Advanced 6 Player Croquet Set ($59.99, Dick’s Sporting Goods) with this Alice in Wonderland-style printable set from Kandy Kreations. Check out these thorough but easy-to-understand instructions from Jaques of London, the company that created the game in the 1800’s, courtesy of The Telegraph, and Expert Village’s super helpful video series about the basic rules of play and setup.


2. Lawn Bowling


Take your favorite Friday night game and bring it to the outdoors. Bonus: no rented shoes! It’s a family-friendly choice that’s also so much fun to play when you have a couple of drinks at night with your friends. Let’s be real: after a while, no one’s even going to keep track of points. Just roll the ball and try to knock down some pins, guys. Just because it’s a simple game doesn’t mean you can’t get a little fancy. This Hey! Play! 11” Wooden Lawn Bowling Set ($59.95, Walmart) is sturdy and far more chic than plastic bowling sets.


3. Bocce Ball


Here's a classic game that’s as easy and as fun as bowling. You get your ball closest to the smaller “jack” ball, gaining extra points if your ball touches the jack. This move is called a “baci,” which means kiss in Italian. You can also try to knock your opponent’s ball away from the jack, which makes this game fun and competitive. It can be played in a number of ways to suit gatherings of various sizes and can be played pretty much anywhere. This gameplay graphic from Hayneedle will tell you everything you need to know. Pick up this classic Verus Sports Bocce Ball Set ($62.99, Target) and get rolling!


4. Twister

Put all that coordination and strength you’ve been working on to the test with your friends and family at your next backyard barbecue. Having this game at your party practically guarantees good times and hysterical giggle fits. It’s also super easy to make your own game board for the outdoors. Hit the hardware store and follow this tutorial from SheKnows for a day of silly fun. Not feeling particularly crafty or looking to take your Twister on the go? Try the perfectly portable Twister fleece blanket ($36.95, Paper Source), which has a waterproof backing and a tiny spinner keychain.


5. Net games


If you’re looking for action-packed games, simply set up a net! Badminton is a great net game for two or four players that lends a posh air to your soirée. While competitive badminton is chock full of rules, a casual game is very simple to play. Badminton Bible has the no-frills, basic rules for beginners that will help you get started. If you want a more active game for a crowd, you can’t go wrong with volleyball. It’s a lot of fun, promotes team work — because camaraderie at a party is never a bad thing — and will keep you on your toes. Get the most bang for your buck with a combo set that contains everything you need to play both games, like the Baden Champions Series Outdoor Combo Badminton/Volleyball Set ($99.79, Amazon).


6. Ring Toss

Dick's Sporting Goods 

This is the perfect game for those with smaller spaces, as it takes up hardly any room at all, and it’s a great way to test your coordination. It’s also super cheap to make your own. HGTV’s tutorial for making your own ring toss game is perfect for the upcoming Independence Day festivities, but you can paint the bottles whatever color you want to fit any party décor. You can also purchase one for around $20. Try the Maranda Classic Ring Toss ($19.99, Dick’s Sporting Goods).

Get your pals together, fire up the grill and let the games begin!