A Swedish Knockout
Swedes in flower crowns play Kubb, which rhymes with “tube,” throughout their nation’s parks during its Midsummer June holiday. All you need to compete in your own outdoor space, however, are 10 small wooden blocks, one large one (the king) and six wooden batons. The goal is to knock over each other’s blocks, then the king, playing by rules that combine bowling and horseshoes.
A German Nail Biter
To play Hammerschlagen (aka Stump), find a few friends and a tree stump, then raid your toolbox for some nails and a hammer. Taking turns, try to drive your opponents’ nails flush into the wood first. The catch: Each time you must throw the hammer into the air, letting it make a full rotation before grabbing it one-handed on its way down. Last nail standing wins.
Italian Cheese Roll
Play Ruzzola as ancient Italians did by seeing how far you can launch a wheel of Pecorino cheese across the yard. Wrap a lengthy, sturdy string around the perimeter of your cheese a few times, clutching one end in your hand. Then unfurl the string as you toss—or roll—the wheel as far as possible. Celebrate the furthest throw with a bowl of cacio e pepe.
Ladder Golf has little in common with golf, other than the balls. Called bolas, two golf balls are connected by a cord, and the goal is to fling them on one of the three rungs of the “ladder.” Wrapping your bola around the top rung yields three points, the middle garners two and bottom, one; a total of 21 wins. Golf etiquette rules don’t apply; heckles are encouraged.
The rougher the terrain, the more challenging the game of Murbles, a lawn version of marbles. Giant tree root across your front lawn? Perfect. As in Bocce, Murbles demands you throw a target ball to start, then each player uses underhand throws—without moving their feet—to pitch their game balls toward it. Closest earns a point; play to 10.