We could all do with a little more fun in our lives. Whether you have children who desperately need to log off or just fancy having a laugh (and some healthy competition) with a gang of friends, there’s a game to suit every garden, park or outdoor space.
As well as getting everyone outside, these activities are a great way to encourage teamwork, imagination and creativity.
They’re perfect for family bonding and an ideal way to help shy children break the ice with friends. Just consider how much space you have to play and store the game before buying.
We put a whole range of games to the test in our garden over a month to find our favourites. We considered how easy they were to start playing, how much fun each one was and whether it appealed to all ages, rather than only children.
Most of all, we paid attention to whether we were keen to play each game again on another day, or if it was a one-hit-wonder never to be pulled from the shed again. These were the favourites we’ll return to for years to come.
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Jaques of London original quoits
Can’t face another brightly-coloured plastic toy? This solid wooden set was easily the most elegant game we tested, arriving in a lovely gift box tied with black ribbon that looked far more expensive than it is and would make a lovely present. Quoits has been played in England for hundreds of years and this set has a simple traditional design with glossy dark wood and heavy-duty natural rope quoits. Each player must throw the quoit onto a peg to gain points, which are marked on the base. It looks easy enough but takes more skill than you might think and definitely brought out the competitive spirit in everyone we played it with, appealing to adults just as much as children. It’s built to last and could easily be used indoors too so you don’t need to rely on the good old British weather.
Giant wooden tumbling tower blocks
Everyone loves Jenga, but it’s even better when it’s bigger. This version of the classic wooden block game includes 51 wooden pieces made of durable Paulownia wood that can be built up to more than 4ft tall. It can be used indoors or out but the blocks do come crashing down quite forcefully so we’d definitely stick with it in the garden. It would be a great game for when other children are visiting or during a barbeque as everyone knows the basic rules and it’s suitable for all ages. Just build the tower (our youngest tester loved making other structures too), then each player has to remove a block from the middle or bottom and place it on top, hoping it won’t all come tumbling down. This is one game you won’t regret investing in.
Garden games limbo
Limber up and prepare for giggles all round with this wooden limbo set that would work brilliantly at a children’s party. It takes moments to slot together and is surprisingly good quality for the price, packing up when you’ve finished using it into a handy bag for storing away. It’s a great option for all ages as there are no instructions for younger children yet the bar goes high enough for adults to attempt – don’t even think about trying to squeeze under the lowest bar unless you have serious yoga skills though. Everyone brave enough to try ours thought it was great fun and it’s hilarious to watch others give it a go too. Sadly, it taught us children are considerably more flexible than adults…
Janod jura skittles
This lovely looking wooden game will bring a touch of French sophistication to your garden. Played to traditional rules, each skittle has a number on and players must knock them over with the throwing skittle to eventually reach 63 points. However, go beyond the playing area and you’re out, which trust us, is harder than it looks. We found this appealed to players of every age and brought out the competitive streak in us all. The best bit? It got our youngest tester adding up scores without even noticing he was doing dreaded maths. A result all round.
Dunelm outdoor 3 in 1 tennis, catch and flying disc game
A bargain set that would make a great gift, this three in one game has everything you need for an instant game of tennis, frisbee or catch. We loved the bright colours and the fact it packed up easily into a drawstring net bag which would make it perfect to bring to the beach or throw in the back of the car for days out. The rackets are lightweight so even small children can have a go but our youngest testers particularly liked using the Velcro discs which strap to your hand to catch the special tennis ball. This sometimes proved a little too heavy to stick properly but that didn’t spoil the fun at all.
Pass The Pigs giant dice game
It doesn’t get much sillier than a giant version of the mega-selling Pass The Pigs game, but this certainly got us giggling. Inside the box, you get two giant inflatable pigs, a rule book, scorecards and pencils, a carry bag, deflation rod and vinyl plastic repair seal. Inflate the pigs – we found it was best not to over-inflate – and you’re ready to start. Each player takes turns throwing both pigs in the air at the same time and how they land determines the number of points you get. The first to score 100 is the winner. It took us a little while to get the hang of how many points each position was worth so it’s best to keep the rule book handy. There were also a few – let’s say – disagreements about how the pigs had landed on occasion but otherwise, we found this was a fun, simple activity for all the family that can easily be deflated and carried anywhere.
The original stomp rocket dueling rockets
Kids got energy to burn? This is an easy way to get them running and jumping without even noticing they’re being active. The set comes with four foam-tipped rockets and a double launcher that’s up and running in no time. Children can challenge friends to see who can get their rocket the highest, just by jumping on the launch pad and watching them fly. It’s possible for each to zoom up to 200ft so we’d recommend avoiding windy days unless you want the rockets ending up on your neighbour’s roof. It would work even better in the park where there was plenty of room and would be fun for a children’s party, although we found adults couldn’t help but have a go too…
Aerobie pro flying ring assortment
There are frisbees and then there is the Aerobie pro flying ring. While this may not work in your garden unless you have acres to spare, it’s a must-have for picnics in the park and days on the beach. A soft, neon rubber ring rather than a solid disc, it has a generous 33cm diameter and is a doddle to throw and catch, with an aerodynamic design that means it won’t veer miles of course. Even our youngest tester found it easy to throw on target which meant more time playing and less time racing around the park to retrieve it when it had gone astray. Used to set a Guinness world record for the farthest throw of 406m (not by us sadly), it flies an astonishing distance and we’ll be keeping it in the car for impromptu frisbee sessions when we’re out and about.
Throw Throw Burrito extreme outdoor edition
Get your own back for all the times your teenagers have driven you up the wall with this utterly ridiculous but absolutely hilarious outdoor version of Throw Throw Burrito. Part card game, part dodgeball (stay with us), the game includes water-resistant jumbo-sized playing cards, waterproof tokens and two 3ft-tall burritos. These need to be inflated before use and we found it was much quicker to use an air pump. Players must then collect sets of cards faster than each other while dodging and throwing the huge burritos. If you get hit by one, you lose marks or you can try to steal points by whacking your opponents with the inflatable. It is every bit as mad as it sounds but we loved it. Just go easy on any younger children playing to avoid tears…
Smart Ball kick up counting football with lights and sounds
OK, we know this looks like it’s fun for one, but we were surprised to see just how much we all wanted a go with this nifty football and were soon competing to see who could get the highest score. The aim is to try stop the ball hitting the ground using your feet, legs, knees, chest and shoulders while the ball lights up and keeps count every time it touches your body. It only counts to 100 but we never made it anywhere close to that number, though we did find it occasionally miscounted. For dedicated footie fans, it’s a great way to improve your skills, but we just enjoyed battling each other to get the best score. For added value for money, it’s definitely a bonus that children can use it on their own too.
The verdict: Garden games
The Jaques of London original quoits would be a classy addition to any garden, with their timeless good looks and all-age appeal. If you’re looking for something to play in the park instead, you can’t beat the Aerobie pro flying ring for straightforward fun everyone can get involved with.
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For more summer garden buys, read our guide to the bestselling inflatable hot tubs on Amazon
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