If you’re charged with organising a wedding, fete or garden party this summer, including outdoor games will bring a touch of fun for all the family. The classic games mentioned in this selection are ready to enjoy without having to learn too many rules, and they should get all generations involved in the fun.
Well-chosen games can suit all occasions and provide great ice-breakers to get the party started: from quieter sessions of boules and dominoes to raucous competitions of limbo and Twister that are sure to provide a few photo opportunities. Go for quality materials, robust set-ups, and easy storage when out of use, and you’ll have a reliable set of games than can be used year after year.
1. Big Game Hunters Limbo: £26.99, Big Game Hunters
Here’s the perfect garden party icebreaker. This timeless test of flexibility can be enjoyed by all who dare get involved – an extra wide cross beam means it can be done in pairs or teams. The lower pegs are great for children, or adding an extra level of difficulty for adults. This one stores away in a canvas carry bag and has a strong frame with parts that screw together.
2. Magnum Royal Guards skittles: £29.99, Jaques London
For a particularly British take on the traditional garden game, these hand-carved wooden skittles come painted to look like the guards at Buckingham Palace. Jaques London has a good reputation for care and quality – a luxury carrying case gives this set the final touch. This skittle game would also make a great gift, and includes three solid-wood balls.
3. Uber Games rounders set: £70, Not On The High Street
A good game of rounders gets everyone involved, and this set from Uber Games should be a joy to get out year after year. The whole set includes four ash bats, two leather balls, four white plastic posts with rubber bases, two mats and a canvas storage bag. There’s also the choice of buying a smaller set, or club and posts separately.
4. Mookie Toys Swingball game: £24.99, John Lewis
One for bridging the generation gap, Swingball is great for both kids and adults who want to relive a bit of their own childhoods. This version from Mookie Toys can survive some serious rallies as its base can be filled with sand or water – a design that means it can be set up on all surfaces. It comes with a real tennis ball and two bats, and is adjustable between different heights.
5. Kids' Tennis and volleyball set: £15, Very
This is a bargainous set that’s adjustable for either tennis or volleyball. The bases are filled with water which makes them useable on all surfaces. As this set is a bit lightweight, it works best on a lawn secured by the eight included pegs. The set comes with everything you need to get started: a volleyball and inflating pump, two racquets and a ball. This one is more suited to kids.
6. Garden dominoes set: £24.99, Plum
Garden games that suggest quieter play are always welcome. This set of light wood dominoes from Plum Play has a traditional touch with 28 pieces painted in lively primary colours. The set comes with its own carry box for easy storage, and has been made from sustainably sourced wood. It suits ages three years and up.
7. Kids' Noughts and Crosses set: £10, Dunelm
It’s the classic game but as an outdoor play mat. The multi-coloured set includes nine soft interlocking squares, five noughts and five crosses. The puzzle-like pieces should be enticing enough for kids who haven’t quite reached the age to play the game yet. In wipe-clean foam, and at just £10, it’s a practical game to have around, and can be used indoors all year round.
8. Twister picnic blanket: £17.99, Amazon
Twister on a picnic blanket! Fans of the 1960s novelty party game find the perfect excuse to enjoy a game after the picnic crumbs have been dusted off. The “spinner” is attached as a keyring, and the blanket has a carrying strap for easy handling. The grid is smaller than the game version, so it may not suit bigger parties.
9. 4-in-a-row game: £46.99, Asda
Another classic that’s fun for all the family, Mightymast Leisure’s version of the 4-in-a-row game is made of sustainably-sourced wood and has a large 57 x 39cm frame. It’s good in the garden on sunny days, but can be used indoors too. The blue and yellow counters make a nice difference to the original. The game suits eight years and up.
10. Wooden boules: £26.99, Very
This beautiful boules set in birch with bright colours will appeal to kids and grown-ups alike. Based on the traditional French game of petanque, boules is easily played on all surfaces and is having a bit of a fashionable resurgence. This kit contains six 6.5cm diameter balls and a 3cm starter ball in vibrant orange. It comes with 5m of rope and a cotton carry bag.
The limbo set from Big Game Hunters is our best pick. It’s easy to assemble and pack away, and the accommodating frame means it can be enjoyed by both big and little guests. Jaques London’s guard skittles set is also a keeper: the tasteful and fun design is also well made, meaning it should last more than a few summers of fun.
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