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September 09, 2021

With the summer weather starting to cool off, there is no better time to spend some time in the great outdoors with friends. No matter if you are the adventurous backpacker type or just enjoy making the best of your backyard, there is always something for everyone. If you want to have some friends over and get a fire going, make sure you have everything you need with these tips for hosting the perfect bonfire party.

Abide by Fire Regulations

The most important consideration to remember is to check to see if there are any burn bans in effect. These usually only happen when the weather has been extremely dry or hot. Also, just because it rained a couple of days ago doesn’t mean the burn ban is no longer in effect. The soil must be saturated with a certain amount of moisture to lift the ban—not just a fresh drizzle on top. If in doubt, contact your local fire department so you don’t get shut down.

Be Mindful of Noise Ordinances

Your neighborhood HOA or municipal might have laws governing resident noise. Usually, this would just mean being mindful of a curfew. Holding a typical conversation would be totally fine, but playing music or getting too rowdy outside might cause problems. You could always shoot an invite to your next-door neighbors to have them join in on the fun (and limit the potential of disrupting nearby residents,) or give them your number to text if things get too loud.

Have a Fire Pit

Using a dedicated fire pit is a necessity. If you are outside, you could dig a small hole and surround it with rocks to create a primitive fire pit. Your neighborhood or apartment complex might have community fire pits that you can use. There are also portable firepits you can find, like a modern tabletop fireplace or a rustic chiminea. Make sure that there is plenty of space around the firepit to prevent any accidents from happening. Eliminate any nearby tripping hazards and move items that you wouldn’t want burned or melted from being too close (including dead foliage). Lastly, remember to have the firepit in a place with plenty of overhead space—you don’t want to set a branch on fire or cause any structural damage to a nearby building!

Create a Theme

Themes can add some extra fun to a previously simple bonfire party. For example, you could organize ones like glow-in-the-dark or stick to the closest holiday like Fourth of July or Halloween. Themes will also influence the games you may play, the music you listen to, or the decorations you adorn with. They are also a simple way to set a wonderful ambiance for a bonfire party.

Set Up the Seating

Confirm that you will have plenty of seating for all your guests. It would be nice to provide extra options so that your guests aren’t playing music chairs throughout the night. If you can hang a hammock nearby, this would add to the bonfire ambiance. Provide some blankets for people to use to stay warm or to even cuddle up on the ground.

Have Bonfire-Worthy Food

Now, this isn’t just food that you think of when you have a bonfire, like s’mores or anything grilled over the fire. Instead, you want your food to stay fresh for hours. Things that should be cold will need to remain chilled. Food that needs to be kept warm (i.e., meats) must be kept in a crockpot or something similar. Since you’ll be outside, you’ll need to protect the food from insects too. In general, there is always a ton of leftover food at group gatherings. You can bring some cheap Tupperware or aluminum foil over plates so that guests can take home some leftovers.

Stock Up on Plenty of Drinks

You can ask your guests ahead of time what their favorite drinks are, or just make the party a BYOB. If you provide the beverages, have options for everyone: various selections of beer or wine, liquor and mixers, soda, kombucha, hot chocolate, and some water to prevent getting too dehydrated. Don’t forget plenty of cups and a cooler full of ice.

Bring Bathroom Supplies

This is mostly only for the adventurous ones organizing a bonfire party in the great outdoors. Do not forget to bring some toilet paper, trash bags, hand sanitizer, and a mini shovel! To ensure you are minimally disturbing the environment, bury your number twos at least 6 inches below the surface. The toilet paper will leave with you; it shouldn’t be left behind.

Dress Appropriately

You’ll want to make sure you are sporting the right clothing items while at a bonfire. Usually, this means to dress in layers to both stay warm and cool off, depending on how the night goes. The Patagonia Better Sweater fleece coat makes this nice and easy. Wear shoes that you are okay with getting a little dirty. Lastly, just keep in mind that everything you dressed in will probably smell like smoke by the end of the night. This isn’t the best night to wear a new sports jacket.

Let the Games Begin!

Almost everyone loves some friendly competition! You can bring options like darts, horseshoes, cornhole, or cards. Provide some opportunities for team play or for part of the group to break off for their own fun. You might organize a mini football tournament or set up a slackline for people to play on. Guests will love having multiples forms of entertainment throughout the night.

Drown the Fire Completely

At the end of the night, you’ll need plenty of water to drown the hot embers of the fire. Outdoor experts recommend at least a gallon of water for every three square feet of firepit space. Even when there are no flames, a fire can still restart with a fresh breeze and some residual heat leftover. Charcoal (burnt wood) blazes at around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Get that heat taken care of to finish off a great night!

Pick and choose from these tips for hosting the perfect bonfire party that works best for you. A bonfire is an excellent way to take a simple party to the next level. Similarly, with just a few tweaks, you can elevate your bonfire to be the most memorable night your guests have had in a while.

Bonfire Party infographic

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