Memorial Day Weekend is in the rearview mirror, and the Fourth of July is nearly here. So why not have that housewarming party you’ve been putting off since the pandemic put everything on hold? You’ve probably got enough vaccinated bubble-buddies to finally have a safe (and still socially distant) outdoor get-together, and we’ve got just the entertainment to help you step it up a notch.
If you have a backyard barbecue, a patio or any patch of lawn at all, we’ve listed our ten favorite lawn games that are sure to induce FOMO in your out-of-town friends. So keep reading, put your game face on and get ready for some backyard family fun. Here — in no particular order — are our favorite yard games for summer 2021.
1 – Horseshoes.
With origins in the late 1800’s — when real horseshoes were used — the game of horseshoes is played by tossing horseshoes from one end of the pitch to the other to get your horseshoes closer to a peg stuck in the ground than your opponent’s. Extra points are earned for leaning on the peg or encircling the peg outright. It’s not as flashy as more modern games like Beer Pong and Corn Hole, but those newer games are based on the principles of horseshoes. A horseshoe pit, built at the White House in the 1940s by President Truman (a Democrat) was recreated by the first President Bush (a Republican) fifty years later. If it’s good enough for both political parties, it’s good enough for your outdoor gear. We like this steel version ’cause they give a satisfying “clang” when they hit each other.
2 – Corn Hole.
As far as equipment goes, Corn Hole is pretty simple. All you need is a set of inclined boards with holes cut in them and six bean bags in two colors. We’re purists, so we prefer corn bags, using dried corn rather than beans! Set them up in your side yard at your next party, and you’re ready to go. What’s great about Corn Hole is that it doesn’t exclude anyone; grandparents and grandkids can play against each other no problem. More importantly, it’s a game that people can enjoy even if they’re not playing, and players can chat with non-players without interrupting the game. You can make your own if you are so inclined, but we’re not very creative, so we sprung for this patriotic one from Etsy.
3 – Croquet.
Evolving from an Irish game called “crooky,” croquet became a craze in the UK in the late 1800s. It featured prominently in the novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and later in the cult movie Heathers. Some people feel it’s a bit upper-crust and slow for their blood, but it’s strategic, cunning and ruthless if you know the rules. Once you play a few games, you’re hooked. Best of all, you can design your own course, making it as easy or hard as you like, so it’s perfect for guests of all ages and attention spans! You can spend hundreds on a fancy croquet set, but you don’t have to. We found this excellent set for six players on Amazon for under $50.
4 – Yard Yahtzee.
Yard Yahtzee is just like regular Yahtzee, but instead of having a handful of dice and friends sitting around a kitchen table, you get to toss oversized dice and hang out in the summer sun. That’s why it’s also called the Lawn Dice Game. Players take turns rolling as many as five dice, picking which to roll again to score the most points. The dice can be rolled up to three times, and players score dice combinations after each turn, similar to hands of cards: three-of-a-kind, four-of-a-kind, a full house, etc. A Yahtzee, worth 50 points, is when you get all dice with the same number. You can buy a pre-made game, or if you feel adventurous, make your own DIY set.
5 – Bocce.
Summers in Italy are filled with smartly dressed men of all ages gathering in the town square for an afternoon game of bocce. Here in the US, the uniform is more shorts and flip-flops, but the game is the same. It’s simple, can be played by anyone of any age, and you can use just about anything as a bocce court as long as it’s level: gravel, hard-packed dirt or a small, level section of lawn. Just mow a patch to create a bocce court. Two people can compete, but bocce is more fun when teams play against each other, usually four party-goers. Here’s a nice bocce set from GoSports.
6 – Lawn Twister.
Twister is a great party game, for sure. But when playing it indoors, something always seemed to get busted: a coffee table, a lamp, whatever. We think it’s better to take this kind of activity outdoors and summer is a great time to do it. Outside on the lawn, you remove any hazards. Besides, tumbling onto the grass is a lot less painful than doing the same on a hard floor. Best of all, you don’t even need the big vinyl mat from the home-version. All you need is a patch of grass, a few cans of spray paint (give it time to dry before playing) and a DIY template for the circles. Here are the instructions!
7 – Ladder Golf.
Unlike the Tiger Woods version of golf, where players stay respectfully silent during an opponent’s turn, Ladder Golf encourages hoots and hollers to rattle other players. Each has three bolas (a rope with two balls on either end) that are tossed one after another in an effort to snag them on a ladder rung. Landing one on the top rung is worth three points; the middle gets you two; the bottom nets just one point. A good strategy is to knock another player’s bolas off the rungs so that they get fewer points. The highest-scoring player at the end of the round throws first next time. The first to get to 21 points exactly is the winner. Here’s a no-nonsense ladder ball set from Wayfair.
8 – Giant Jenga.
Because “Jenga” is a registered trademark, this game is sometimes referred to as Tumbling Towers. Whatever you call it, it’s a fun and strategic stacking game that’s been making appearances in patios and outdoor spaces of bars, breweries and wineries across the country. The sheer novelty of its gigantic pieces screams “PLAY ME!”. Plus, the fact that it could fall at any time provides the thrill of faster-paced games, but you can still carry on a friendly conversation as you play. But, because it can collapse, this lawn game is not recommended for families with small kids running around. You can buy the authentic Jenga version here, or why not make your own?
9 – Mölkky.
Another wooded lawn game is Mölkky, a popular one in Europe that got its start in Finland. Find a nice patch of grass, and stand up twelve wooden pins, each painted with a number, one through 12. The goal is to rack up exactly 50 points by knocking the pins down. Here’s where the strategy comes in: knock over multiple pins and get one point per pin. Knock over a single pin, and you get points equal to the pin’s number. But don’t go over 50. If you do, your score gets cut back to 25 points. After a player’s turn, the pins are reset in the exact spots where they land. In this way, the “board” is constantly changing, and no two turns are the same. It’s sure to be your most requested lawn game by summer’s end. Find Mölkky here.
10 – Frescobol.
While all the other games on this list pit player-against-player or team-against-team, Frescobol is different because instead of an opponent, you have a partner. The goal is for Frescobol players to work together rather than to score points. The one rule to Frescobol is to be collaborative and, using wooden paddles, hit the ball back and forth without letting it hit the ground. The ideal distance is about 25 feet apart, but we’re not the boss of you. You do you! Having gained popularity on Brazil’s beaches, Frescobol can be played anywhere you have some open space. Your new backyard is perfect! We’ve seen cheapo Frescobol kits sell for just thirty bucks, but to be authentic, spring for wooden paddles. We love this sweet set for under $100 from Amazon. They’re lightweight and will last forever.
Have a great summer in your new home!
You waited long enough to enjoy your new outdoor space, so go for it. Round up the family, text out some invites, fire up the BBQ and let the games begin.
Still haven’t gotten pre-approved for your next home (with a yard, hopefully)? We can help. If you’re a prospective homebuyer, reach out to one of our local loan officers to discuss your options. Or, if you’re ready to get started now, you can always apply online!