You need not a pool to throw an epic outdoor party this summer (though frankly, these cool New Jersey pools wouldn’t hurt!). Sometimes all it takes to entertain a crowd is a few board games that will break the ice and show your guests a good time.
But we’re not talking about Taboo and Trivial Pursuit. We’re referring to games that are meant to be played outside—they’re life-sized and should be on display, not tucked into a cardboard box in your game room.
Here are our editors’ picks for a half-dozen backyard games to keep you and your summer guests busy in your yard or on the deck or patio. Bonus: The kids will love these too!
The almost 3-foot-wide 4-in-a-row Giant Game set—aka the bigger version of Connect Four—is made of premium hardwood so it looks pretty and lasts for years. It comes with 42 blue and orange plastic coins for hours of play. Available at wayfair.com.
Doesn’t every backyard need a regulation-standard cornhole set? This professional cornhole set from Shinola features a custom design and four cornhole bags in orange and four in navy to complete the set. It even has collapsible legs and carry handles if you decide you want to move the party elsewhere. Available at Bloomingdale’s, Short Hills, 973.548.2200
Black and white and chic all over is one way to describe this oversized Tumbling Tower Game, also known as Jenga. Store the blocks in the accompanying canvas tote bag and bring it to outdoor parties and picnics—it’s a way more exciting hostess gift than a bottle of wine or a store-bought dessert. Available at Crate & Barrel, multiple locations.
Indulge your chess obsession with a luxury set fit for a king or queen—or The Queen’s Gambit—like the 24-inch Fiberglass Giant Chess Set from MegaChess with rubberized vinyl flooring. Each piece is made from hand-carved wood and cast into fiberglass molds. And even though it’s a spectacle, you can actually play with these pieces, rather than just ogle. Available at megachess.com.
Game night will be a team effort with the Wooden Ladder Toss, where two teams of three can play at once. This set crafted from New Zealand pine comes with built-in scorekeepers along the ladder rungs, six golf bolas (three red, three blue) and a carry case to transport and/or store all the pieces. Available at Pottery Barn, multiple locations.
Bring New England vibes to your Jersey backyard with the Maine Coast Croquet Set. This all-in-one kit includes a stand, stakes and mallets made of hardwood—the six mallets and balls are in coordinating colors—so your crew is always ready for a rousing game of wickets. Available at L.L. Bean, multiple locations.