How to host a summer campfire in your backyard
Last week we gave you all the tools for hosting an outdoor movie night in your backyard. This week at Camp Bunchland, it’s all about gathering the family in the backyard and toasting your toes (and some s’mores) by a campfire. Imagine coming home from work, loosening your tie and then sitting around a crackling fire in your own backyards.
First things first, check into backyard campfire laws in your city. Chances are to keep things nice and legal (not to mention safe) you’ll need to purchase a fire pit. Here are some we like:
Make sure your kindling is bone dry. You can stock up using a firewood delivery service, like this one (search online for one in your area). For a green option, check out Java-Logs, a product made from coffee grounds that promises a longer, cleaner burn (with a hint of coffee aroma). Add some Campfire Blue and watch the flames turn from blue to green to purple.
Take a seat
A campfire requires extended periods of sitting, so you’ll want to be as comfy as possible. It really doesn’t get any better than that old standby, the Muskoka chair (this company makes a kid-sized one). We also like this circular seating setup. Or keep things rustic and perch on large rocks, or fashion some benches out of tree stumps and planks. Or splurge and go for these sweet teak stump seats ($249.99 each).
Please, sir, I want s’more(s)
Do we really need to tell you you should make s’mores? Duh. But before you slap a marshmallow and a slab of chocolate between two graham crackers, peep these gourmet options. The author of S’mores: Gourmet Treats for Every Occasion has posted recipes on her site for mint, banana-caramel and stuffed apricot s’mores (whoa!).
If you prefer to simply gaze into the fire with a glass of Malbec while the kids gorge on s’mores, we feel you. But if you want to liven things up with some entertainment, invite a few other families to your campfire and encourage them to come prepared with an instrument, a skit, some jokes or a couple of songs. At minimum, all you need is someone who can strum a few chords on a guitar and belt out some recognizable hits, and you’ve got the makings of an inter-family campfire singalong. For classic campfire song material, check out this extensive list (even if you don’t know the tune, who cares?).
Freak yourselves out
As long as the kids are old enough to handle it (you don’t want to give anyone nightmares), wrap things up with that time-honoured tradition: the telling of a scary story. There’s something deliciously spooky about telling a horror tale in hushed tones around a glowing fire, in the dark, to the rapt attention of your wide-eyed audience.
If you don’t want to make one up on the spot (or don’t remember the ones you heard at camp), this site has a collection of tales from American folklore. Or pick up the book that made us pee our pants as kids: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. Stephen Gammell’s illustrations alone were enough to haunt our dreams forever. Bonus points if you get one of the adults to sneak off to “get something from the kitchen” and then jump out of the darkness at a crucial point in the story. Or is that just mean?