1. GET HOOKED ON CROQUET
Who knew hitting a ball through a wicket could be so much fun? In Alice in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts livens up her games of croquet by using live flamingoes and hedgehogs in place of mallets and balls, but we prefer the traditional game as an icebreaker between a large group of friends on a sunny summer’s day. We recommend the Design Within Reach Croquet Set, $735; DWR.com
2. MAKE THIS ICE CREAM
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
Ice cream is summer. And vanilla is classic. This recipe makes enough for six, so invite your friends, get out the vinyl (see #3), and start scooping.
500 ml. full-fat milk
1 vanilla pod
6 organic egg yolks
100 g. superfine sugar
150 ml. heavy or whipping cream
Beat egg yolks with sugar. Add vanilla pod to milk and bring to a simmer, then remove pod and pour over the eggs. Strain into a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water. Add cream and stir until the custard thickens. Rinse the vanilla pod and split it end-to-end; scrape the seeds into the custard. Stir and cool before freezing in an ice cream maker. Jazz it up by adding rum-soaked raisins or chocolate shavings before it’s fully set.
Rösle ice cream scoop, $27; RosleUSA.com
3. THROW A VINYL PARTY
Dude, get off Spotify and Pandora (like, are their recommendations ever any good anyway?). Instead, march yourself to your nearest record store and spend, you know, $20 dollars on some ratty, sorta stank-smelling old LPs. Get some disco (Donna is a must), some frothy new wave (you have to be an SS guard not to like She’s So Unusual), some weird stuff for the wee hours (you can’t go wrong with Kraftwerk), then some morning-friendly jazz or an introspective classic for the kids who end up staying over (our picks: Miles, Nina, Joni, Carol King, Simon and Garfunkel). Some of what you buy might skip a bit. But not as much as your heart will when you relive your yesteryears.
4. BRING YOUR PICNIC BASKET
Find the right spot and unpack your hamper -- it’s that easy. Just plan to bring a dip, chips, hard-boiled eggs, peaches and/or cherries, and a bottle of rosé. Avoid sandwiches -- they get soggy -- and cheese. Most importantly, don’t forget the corkscrew -- or the croquet set (see #1).
Martha Stewart Collection Picnic Basket, $117; Macys.com
Photo: John Wenrich
5. BUILD A STONE WALL
You don’t have to be Andy Goldsworthy (the artist who creates astonishing sculptures from natural objects) to relish the simple pleasures of rearranging rocks. There are actual classes in dry stone walling (TheStoneTrust.org), but freestyle is fine, too. Those who don’t have the energy can live vicariously through Mariana Cook’s new book of photographs, Stone Walls (Damiani, $50), a series of shots of ancient walls in places as varied as Kentucky, Peru, and England.
6. SHOOT WITH A LO-FI CAMERA
This sunburst of a camera captures the real soft-focus you’ve been shadily applying to your online dating profile photos through Instagram—but with a long-exposure functionality for experimentation and the inherent smugness of being able to develop your own film.
Diana F+ Buttercup Camera, $79.20; Lomography.com
7. PICKLE TO YOUR HEART'S CONTENT
Feed your inner sourpuss by learning how to pickle. All you need are spices, veggies, and, of course, time to feed your insatiable craving for salt.
Brooklyn Brine Pickling Kit, $29.95; Williams-Sonoma.com
8. READ A BOOK
Yes, a real one, with a spine. Maybe invest in a bookmark. They’re charming! You know what else is charming? This year’s summer reading list, especially when you’re lolling around on a picnic blanket. In fact, here are three more picks if you demolish the others.
Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane (William Morrow, June 13)
Claire Messud, The Woman Upstairs (Knopf, out now)
Wayne Koestenbaum, My 1980s and Other Essays (FSG Originals, August 13)
9. THROW A BALL (BUT NOT TOO HARD)
The French have been trying hard to introduce pétanque as an official Olympic sport, and rightfully so; it’s a perfect summer game, playable on dirt, sand, or grass. The goal is to throw heavy boules as close as possible to the “piglet,” or cochonnet, without getting knocked out of your spot by your mischievous friends.
Hermès Pétanque Set (steel, hunter cowhide, and boxwood), $1,150; Hermes.com