Croquet is the friendly lawn game you must try

If you just finished watching the second season of Bridgerton, you likely noticed how prominent a role croquet played in highlighting the smoldering, competitive chemistry between the Viscount Anthony Bridgerton and Miss Kate Schwarma.

Or, you might be fonder of Heathers and how croquet was used to show the divide between the haves and the have-nots.

And who could forget the memorable scene in Disney’s version of Alice In Wonderland, where Alice was forced to play a highly unusual and markedly unfair game against the Queen of Hearts?

For years, croquet has captured us through pop culture, and may even seem a bit exclusive. However, this centuries old game really is for everyone.

My family discovered our fascination with croquet on a trip to Mystic, Connecticut a few years ago. Visiting Mystic Seaport, we had a chance to see what life was like in the earliest days of our country’s founding, and got a chance to learn how to play croquet.

I am not sure if we would be as interested in the game if we weren’t taught by people dressed in colonial clothing. The feel of being at the home of a late 18th century aristocrat, enjoying a garden party, certainly added to the appeal.

Croquet on the lawn in front of a colonial house in Mystic, Conn.
Photo By Gail Hoffer-Loibl

We enjoyed ourselves so much, we ordered our own croquet set. Mind you this was in 2019, well before COVID upended all our lives, and we were definitely grateful to have this way to entertain ourselves during the pandemic.

There are official rules to croquet with proper scoring, however, with two kids under the age of ten, we keep it simple.

We set the course up in our yard similarly to how they do it here, adjusting for size and terrain (we have some steep slopes). Then we take turns hitting our balls with a mallet through the various hoops (wickets) planted in the ground. Whoever makes it through the course first wins.

My oldest taking a shot in Croquet
Photo by Gail Hoffer-Loibl

What makes the game more fun is when players have the chance to hit their opponents’ balls out of play. I would say I try to go easy on my kids, but now that they are getting better, I am much more competitive. That, and to be honest, I am far from the best player, and that’s OK, croquet is all about fun with people you love.

I realize not everyone has a yard or enough lawn space to play croquet at home. Not to worry. Many sets are lightweight and come with travel cases, meaning you can take the game just about anywhere. If you are allowed, bring a set to your local park, and try it out with your family and friends. Once you get familiar with how the course is arranged, you will be able to set up and pack up with ease.

Lawn games are a wonderful way to enjoy time with your family during the warmer months, and croquet is a great choice for anyone looking for a friendly and fun outdoor activity.

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