5 Picnic-Perfect Games
What better way to take advantage of a three-day weekend than with a picnic in the park? If you’d like to invigorate your lawn-lounging with some good-spirited competition, here’s a list of 5 picnic-worthy games inspired by Balls on the Lawn: Games to Live By, by Brooks Butler Hays with illustrations by Jeremy Stein.
1. Croquet: The sophisticated chap’s lawn game! Best played in a three-piece linen suit. Origin: First coming to fame in England, croquet has been played for over 150 years. Croquet eventually caught on in popularity in the U.S. shortly after the Civil War. It was also one of the first lawn games embraced and played by both men and women. Equipment: A traditional croquet set includes: 6 wooden mallets, 6 different colored balls, 2 wooden stakes, and 9 metal wickets. The Goal: Use your mallet to whack your ball through a series of wickets before your opponent does.
2. Bocce: The straightforward, easy-to-play game for everyone–especially those who claim to be noncompetitive. Origin: The simple concept of rolling balls started off in the deserts of ancient Egypt. From sand to grass, the game caught on with Roman soldiers during their downtime while at war and soon made its way to modern times. Equipment: 9 balls, 8 of which are the actual bocce balls—the 9th acts as the target ball. The Goal: Toss your bocce ball to get as close as possible to the target ball.
3. Horseshoes: The game that truly started it all (more than 400 years ago!) in the vast world of lawn sports. You’re welcome. Origin: English peasants passed the time with horseshoe tossing in the 1550s, which was then brought over by English settlers to the colonies. The riveting nature of the game held strong in the states, especially in the Midwest. In 1914, the Grand League of the American Horseshoe Pitchers Association was born, establishing official rules. Equipment: 2 metal stakes, 4 U-shaped metal horseshoes. The Goal: Each player/team has 2 horseshoes and takes turns tossing a horseshoe to each respective stake. After all four have been tossed, tally the score for that “inning.” Rotate which team/player tosses first for each inning thereafter.
4. KanJam: An odd game that involves upcycling two trashcans. Yes, trashcans! Must be played with 2 teams of 2. Origin: Gym teacher Paul Swisher brought the classiness of KanJam to life in New York after goofing off with a Frisbee and a pair of metal trashcans. Equipment: a Frisbee, two trashcans or barrels set 50 feet apart. The Goal: The first player tosses their Frisbee towards his or her teammate, who must dunk the Frisbee into the other team’s trashcan.
5. Stump: Turn an unwanted tree stump into a game of semi-dangerous, risky competition! Origin: Stump’s Germanic antecedent, the game of Hammerschlagen, was first documented at Munich’s Oktoberfest in 1810. Equipment: A liberally-sized tree stump, a hammer, and a nail for each player. The Goal: Toss a hammer into the air, catch, and smash your opponent’s nail into the stump in one fluid movement. Avoid hammering your shin.
Read a free excerpt of Balls on the Lawn: Games to Live By online, and download the complete history, instructions, and recommended cocktails for a rousing game of horseshoes this weekend.
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