Maybe it’s just me but I find today’s digitally focused world fairly insular. Take a look around at restaurants, bars, shopping malls and you will find a generation of people with their faces stuffed into a phone or a tablet.
We are gradually forgetting what life was like before the invention of these technologies where interaction with peers was made face to face and not through social media. People love to like pages such as I’m a child of the 90s but more often than not they never practice what they preach.
Picnic games are a way of combatting this. Reclaiming outdoor space for the purpose of interaction and social bonding through games and activities is a way to elevate your picnic to the next level. It’s all well and good smashing your picnic menu out of the park but to serve up a truly memorable shindig we need to step our games up, literally.
Below you will find a selection of my favorite picnic games. Each one will be suitable for most environments whether it be the park, the beach, the lake or even your back garden. They are designed to be cheap, practical, sometimes competitive and sometimes with no purpose at all except unadulterated fun.
Picnic Games for Kids
There’s a certain amount of crossover between each category so please don’t take them as solid, rigid suggestions. Even so, I think what follows are perfect entertainment for little ones at your picnic.
Cornhole – Cornhole is a great game for kids. It involves a lot of hand eye coordination which they have no doubt perfected from the years spent in front of their consoles and has just the right amount of competitiveness attached to it to make it an addicting activity.
Hot Potato – There are many versions of this game where the idea is not to be left holding the ball. Kids especially love the water version where a water balloon is set inside a device and a timer is set to explode the balloon at any moment. If you’re not a fan of packing extra clothes then the musical version is just as much fun.
Frisbee Golf – This is the game that I bring out when I want a nice quiet journey home after my picnic because the kids have crashed. Admittedly you need a lot of space to get the best from Frisbee golf but it can be played at closer quarters too if needs be. The aim of the game is simple, start at a predetermined spot and take as few throws as possible to get the Frisbee into the target.
Jazzminton – Paddle and racket sports are a well established fun time activity but they weren’t always accessible to younger people. Not everyone has the hand eye coordination needed to play the more traditional games with siblings or other family but Jazzminton offers an element that serves as a leveler. It plays a lot like badminton but instead of a shuttlecock you play with birdies. The birdies come in 2 speeds, slow or fast meaning the games can take place at a slower tempo giving the less coordinated amongst us a fighting chance.
Picnic Games for Adults
When adults get together and decide to play games it invariably leads to a more competitive scenario than if there are kids present. These picnic games for adults certainly up the stakes in terms of skill level and competitiveness.
Spikeball – My new obsession. I’m absolutely in love with spikeball as it is immensely simple and fun to play. It is based very closely on beach volleyball but there is no court needed meaning you can set up almost anywhere. I would definitely opt for a beach or somewhere with plenty of grass however as you will almost certainly be throwing yourself about. I have recently even seen goalkeepers in professional soccer use spikeball as a training aid so you can bet that after a few goes your reflexes will be improved vastly.
Bocce – Basically, any type of boules / bowls / bocce game is enough to get the competitive juices flowing. Bocce has the edge over all the others as they can be thrown on almost any solid terrain. The aim is simple, throw the jack away from yourself and use your designated balls to get as close as possible to it. There’s a certain amount of skill and tactical awareness that is required for this game and as such, any over exuberant celebrations can probably be justified.
Touch Rugby – Contact sports such as football and Rugby obviously have a lot of dangers associated with them that make them unsuitable as a picnic game. Introduce the element of touch tackles however and you suddenly have a game that is safe and inclusive of all regardless of age or sex. I have opted for Rugby instead of football as there is a continuous flow to the game which I believe to be better suited to a more inclusive picnic game. The rules state that you must reach the try line and put the ball down with pressure without being touched by an opponent with both their hands. If touched you must pass the ball straight away. Each side gets 6 tackles and the ball can only be passed backwards.
Don’t show me your teeth – This is essentially a word association game that can be played between 2 people or as a group game. Being a word association game, don’t show me your teeth is actually suitable for all the family but I like to turn it into a bit of a drinking game. To play don’t show me your teeth, one person says a random word and then the following players must say a word that links to it. There can be no repetition of words, no hesitations and most importantly you must never show your teeth. Your lips must be curled around your teeth and must remain so until you lose the game. Any loss must of course be met with a suitable alcoholic punishment. This is genuinely one of the funniest games you can play.
Please check out our Indian Picnic games section in one of our previous posts. These games are great fun and can be enjoyed by all.