photo by ragufeng/fotolia
In coming up with this round up, I won’t lie; these were chosen arbitrarily. This list list tends to skew a bit trendy, but the these games are really fun and, well … 1) The lawn darts I played with in my uncle’s backyard are illegal, and 2) I don’t really think I need to explain games like croquet to you, do I?
Here are five lawn games for your next outdoor get-together:
Yes, I definitely first saw this game played outside frat row at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, but yes, I have played it, and it’s a good time. You don’t even need to be that good at Frisbee. The set up is ridiculously simple: two poles set up about 25 feet from each other with a glass bottle (beer, gourmet soda, whatever you want) balanced on top of each. Teams of two (team members are on the same side) take turns passing the Frisbee from side to side, and you try to knock over the other team’s bottle or hit the pole before they can catch it. See rules.
I have yet to play bocce ball on the smooth greens of, say, Pinstripes in Edina, but that’s the great part of it. You can play it on any terrain. If you haven’t played, the point of the game is to get your ball (about 2 pounds) nearest a smaller white ball that someone throws. Call it personal bias, but I love playing it where you can throw the white ball up hills and hope it snags a rut on the way down or where the ground is so bumpy you don’t know how the bounce will play. The game is simple but competitive, an instant classic. See rules (no set-up court needed, though).
For those of you who don’t know what Kubb is, know that it’s a popular enough lawn game where Eau Claire, Wisconsin, declared itself the Kubb Capital of North America and has held the U.S. National Kubb Championship since 2007. At its core, it is a game where two teams face each other (with team members on the same side) and try to knock over wooden blocks by throwing wooden batons. In game play, it’s an amusingly frustrating time where sometimes the batons slide, sometimes they bounce, and sometimes they don’t do anything at all when they land. A game highlight includes a comeback opportunity: Every time a team loses a Kubb, they throw it to the other side and have to hit it down before they can continue aiming for the other team. See rules.
Although this game is basically volleyball with a small, circular net you bounce the ball on, I spent the first four games trying to figure out when to hit the ball. Do hit it when it’s bouncing on the net and the other team was the last to touch it, even if it’s not leaving the net. Don’t hit it when your teammate bounces the ball off the net directly at you; you’re just being used as a convenient screen to make it more difficult for the other team to get to it. Still, after a few rounds, this game had me feeling really intense as I sideways-shuffled around the net and raised my hand high to smack the ball. (The linked video is pretty intense, but really, it’s as chill as you want it to be.) See rules.
Bean bag toss is all fun and grand, but I grew up playing Washer Boards made by the people I saw every year during an annual resort trip to Nisswa, Minnesota. Washers, as we like to call it, consist of trying to throw industrial-size washers into three holes across the way, aligned stoplight style. Scoring can go one, two, three or one, three, five, and like bags, teams can cancel each other and if you go over 21, you get knocked back down to 13. Try the Frisbee toss technique, the grandma throw from a horse stance—whatever gets it in the hole. See rules.