Apocalyptic Picnic

Summer may be over, but there are still plenty of opportunities to grill. Getting together with family and friends for a barbecue is the perfect time to play board games.

When everyone’s bringing a dish to pass, such as this zesty shrimp salad, we like to bring out card and party games. With large get-togethers, it’s best to choose games that can accommodate more players, are quick to teach, and are fairly quick to play.

If it’s easy for people to casually jump in or out of the game, that can work well, too — especially if everyone is playing for fun without keeping score.

Serve up some family fun at your next barbecue with one of these games.

best games for a BBQ

Apocalyptic Picnic

What better way to bond with your family than to play a game where a radioactive potato salad starts turning everyone into zombies? Apocalyptic Picnic, from Winning Moves Games, is a fun card game for two to six players. It comes in a box with a magnetic closure, making it easy to take along to a cookout. The cards are durable and have a nice finish, so they won’t tear easily.

Each player has five family member cards. At the start of the game, players pick one to be their starting zombie. Use food and equipment cards to keep family members healthy and try to turn other players’ family members into zombies. Keep an eye out for Grandma’s chicken noodle soup because it cures everything! Be the last player to survive with at least one non-zombie family member to win!

best board games for a BBQ

Welcome To…Your Perfect Home

Welcome To…Your Perfect Home, from Deep Water Games, is one of our favorite games to teach people. It’s a flip-and-write game that can accommodate one-99 players. Yes, you really can have a large number of players! As long as you have enough housing sheets and pens, and people can see the cards on the table, there isn’t a limit.

In this game, you are building houses on three streets of a new town, which you can name. In each round, there are three pairs of cards featuring a house number paired with a type of housing development, such as a park, a pool, a fence, or a real estate value. Each player chooses only one pair to add to their sheet during each round. The housing numbers must be written in ascending order, but they do not have to be consecutive.

It only takes a few minutes to teach and is easy to play. Eventually, it gets harder to write in house numbers as your neighborhood gets filled. You earn points based on the number of parks or pools on each street. The player with the most points wins!

best board games for a bbq

Zombie Dice

Zombie Dice, from Steve Jackson Games, is a game that forces you to press your luck. It’s super easy to teach and quick to play. It’s a favorite in our house, and it works well with two or more players. On your turn, you take three random dice out of the dice holder and roll them. Keep any brains rolled, and you may choose to keep pushing your luck by rolling another three dice (re-rolling footsteps and taking more from the dice holder). You can choose to stop at any time and tally up the brains. But if you roll three blasts, you lose all of the brains from that round. The final round starts when a player scores 13 or higher. The player with the highest score at the end wins!

best board games for a barbeque

Ultimate Werewolf

Ultimate Werewolf, from Bezier Games, is a fun social deduction party game. The deluxe edition can have up to 75 players, and it’s best to play with at least six people.

For this game, you need a moderator to run the game and split everyone else up into two teams. They will either be a villager or a werewolf. The villagers don’t know which players are werewolves, and the werewolves try to keep their identities secret while slowly eliminating one villager at a time. Each “day,” the players discuss who they think is a werewolf and choose a player to vote out. Each “night,” the werewolves decide on a villager to eliminate.

The game ends when either all of the werewolves are voted out or all of the villagers are eliminated.

There are also different variations for smaller groups of three to 10 players: One Night Ultimate Werewolf, One Night Ultimate Vampire, and One Night Ultimate Supervillains.

best games for a bbq

Wits & Wagers – Family Edition

Wits & Wagers, from North Star Games, is a great party game to play at a family barbecue. The family edition is easy to travel with, has family-friendly questions, and removes the gambling part that’s included in the other Wits & Wagers editions.

It’s a fun trivia game in which you don’t necessarily have to be good at trivia. One person reads the question, and everyone writes down their answers. Everyone shows their answers, and then you can choose which answer you think is correct or is the closest to the correct answer. The player with the most points at the end wins.

best board games for an outdoor party


Telestrations, from the OP (formerly known as USAopoly), is a blast to play with family and friends. It’s essentially turning the classic game of “telephone” into a drawing party game. The regular edition is for four to six players, but there is a larger party edition for even more players.

Everyone has a card and a spiral, dry-erase book. Roll the die to see which word you must draw from your card. After you draw it, everyone passes their book to the next player. That player looks at the drawing and has to write their guess on the next page.

The books pass to the next player and they have to draw a picture based on what the last person wrote as their guess. When your book comes back to you, enjoy laughing as you flip through to see the hilarious path it took from your word to the end picture — or be amazed at how it stayed on track!

We don’t keep score when playing, but there are official scoring rules that you can use. The player with the most points wins.

best games for an outdoor party

Sushi Go Party!

Sushi Go Party!, from Gamewright, is an expanded version of the popular Sushi Go! card game. It’s a fast game for two to eight players. Earn points by picking the best sushi combinations from a menu with more than 20 dishes.

It’s easy to start playing within a few minutes and an excellent way to have kids working on math without realizing it.

For even more suggestions of what to play, check out this list of games to play at the beach. We hope all of your summer barbecues are filled with fun memories with family and friends.

About the author

Darcy Zalewski

Darcy Zalewski

Darcy Zalewski is an avid gamer who believes gaming is an excellent family activity. Happily raising two little geeklings with her equally geeky husband in the land of cheese, aka Wisconsin. Darcy loves both video and board games, as they provide infinite family bonding opportunities. When she’s not gaming, she’s crafting, reading dystopian novels, or discussing one of her many fandoms. Her writing has also been featured on Babble, CafeMom, and Mom.me. Connect with her on Twitter at @darcyzalewski.