LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

Attention stargazers, firefly lovers, and dreamers: Summer may be winding down, but there's still plenty of time for some simple, old-fashioned outdoor fun. CYNTHIA KLING rounds up the options (and throws in some fireside games for good measure).

[outdoor games ]

These classics only get better with age: And the upside is that pretty much everyone already knows how to play.

Spoon Sisters Designer Dish Gloves

Whoa, very Alice in Wonderland! These beautiful sets made in Indonesia of teak double as outdoor art. In winter, you can decorate your living room with the pieces.

Giant Outdoor Chess Sets, $42.88 & up 
Sud Green Scrubber

There is nothing quite like playing outdoors at dusk, aided and abetted by these elegant and cheap torchieres.

Bamboo Tiki Torch, $3.96 & up 
Green and Yellow swirled 'Iguana Marbles' from Land of marbles

A true Zen game. Can you focus, focus, focus, and hit the marble out of the circle—or just collect a big bowl of beautiful ones? This set of 25 shooters will set you back just $2.99.

Marbles, $4.24 & up 

Remember shuttlecocks? It's so Brit Raj, sophisticated, and yet requires great coordination and motor skills. Find a cool old set on eBay or get a snazzy steel one.

Badminton Sets, $39.99 & up;
oneFive Mini Sleep Roll

Jimmy Fallon plays, Martha plays. It might not look like much, but it's the hottest outdoor game going. It's particularly perfect for picnics. (Heckling encouraged.)

Ladder Golf, $24.99 & up

[board games ]

They might not be that complicated but each one requires canniness and the willingness to take chances. Test your skills.

M-Cups Red Measuring Matryoshkas

This real estate game came out of the market crash of '29. Today, get a version that involves debit cards. Find out who's going bankrupt and who's got Trump potential.

Monopoly Electronic Banking, $22.39 & up 
twoTwo Gripper Cutting Board

Remember this '60s classic? Milton Bradley was accused of selling "sex in a box" when it came out. It's still just as fun.

Twister, $15.89 & up 
twoTwo Gripper Cutting Board

Looking for a new party game? This simple one gets funnier and funnier as you go along. That's probably why they've sold over 3 million sets.

Apples to Apples, $19.99 & up 
Toucan Opener

Invented by a French film director Albert Lamorisse, this great old game teaches you how and when to pick your battles—very useful information. Get a repro of a cool vintage set with the wooden armies.

Risk! 1959 Classic Board Game, $19.99 & up 
Toucan Opener

Game geeks know all about this new one, thanks to the fact that it won Germany's prestigious prize for Game of the Year (who knew they had that?). Channel Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar and build the best ancient civilization.

7 Wonders Card Game, $18.35 & up 

[olympic games ]

It's obvious why these games are for the champs—they're also fun for duffers like us.

twoTwo Gripper Cutting Board

If you call it Table Tennis you understand the incredible hand-eye coordination needed to smash a spin. Call it Ping Pong and you understand how silly it can be. Either way, this set turns a boring table into an Olympic match.

Dining Table Ping Pong Set, $26.95 & up 
twoTwo Gripper Cutting Board

The sport of Athena was invented literally thousands of years ago—during the late Paleolithic era. The bull's-eye target will still look cool in your backyard—that's good design.

Champion 24" Archery Target, $6.17 
twoTwo Gripper Cutting Board

According to NASA, trampolining is the best exercise there is. And it's really fun to fly even if you don't make the Sochi Games. But spend some money and get a good, heavy-duty model, like this one, so you don't hit the ground hard when returning to earth.

Magic Circle Octagon
Trampoline, $689.99 & up 
Toucan Opener

Who doesn't have a crush on Michael Phelps? Plus, you really get some exercise racing against him on this Kinect game.

Michael Phelps Push the Limit
for Xbox 360, $11.29 

[fireside games ]

This set of activities may actually get you to turn off the tech because they demand concentration.

orb pestle mortar

What a great design. If you don't want to talk to the spirits, which demands otherworldly concentration, what about using this handmade board to ferry drinks to the guests?

Witchboard Replica, $100 
Toucan Opener

Onesies, twosies... it turns out this childhood game has a great ancient pedigree. Zeus played. It's a great way to practice fine motor skills and might even help carpel tunnel syndrome.

Classic Jacks Game, $5.49 & up 
Toucan Opener

Is this a simpleton's game, or more intriguing and complex than chess? It's been debated for centuries. Ben Franklin and Edgar Allan Poe were big fans. Get this double set and decide for yourself.

Deluxe Wooden Chess, Checker and Backgammon Board, $34.99 & up 
Toucan Opener

You can play hearts, gin rummy, or maybe even read fortunes with this amazing looking deck. It's not a bad weekend house present either. Check out that Queen of Diamonds.

52 Aces Card Deck, €39.90 
Toucan Opener

This was the first game that women played equally against men. Makes sense, since strategy is all. This lovely Edwardian Set comes from Jaques of London, the oldest games manufacturer in the world.

Mahogany Edwardian
Croquet Set, $89.99 
 
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