Throw a Bonfire Birthday Party

Roasting marshmallows over a campfire.
Image courtesy of pixabay

If you’re looking for a fun yet unique way to celebrate your son or daughter’s special day, consider a bonfire birthday party. More than just a simple celebration, a bonfire bash delivers an awesome birthday experience that the guest of honor and his friends will remember for years to come.

Bonfire Birthday Party Location

A bonfire is usually a big fire that requires plenty of open space to accommodate the fire, itself. A birthday celebration around the fire will also need enough room for safe seating, as well as for guests to mingle and enjoy any additional activities. Some places to consider for hosting your bonfire include your home (if you have a fair amount of acreage), the beach, an open field, campsite, farmland or park.

Once you have chosen a location that you think will work for your party, you will need to inquire about rental fees and regulations and obtain any and all required permits for hosting a bonfire party.

Inviting Guests

A bonfire party sounds like so much fun that you may be tempted to invite everyone your child knows. There are a few things to consider, however, before sending out all of those invitations.

First, how many people can your location actually accommodate safely? The answer to this question can help you determine your guest list.

Another important point to think about is the age group of your party. Younger children should be accompanied by an adult, so remember to not only include parents in your headcount but to mention that you expect them to stay when writing your invitations. Even if your party is for tweens or teens who are more likely to be dropped off and left in your care, it is a good idea to have plenty of adults on hand to supervise the group around the fire.

Your invitations should also tell guests what to expect. For instance, should they bring a folding chair or blanket? How about extra layers of clothing?

The invitation is also a great place to include a list of basic safety rules guests will need to follow on the day of the event. You will want to go over these again, in person, on the day of the event, but including them in the invitations can help kids to get a head start on the safety measures. 

The Fire

Before you can host a bonfire party, you need to enlist someone who is well-versed in fire safety and maintaining a fire, who can help build and start the fire, monitor it during the occasion, and stay after the celebration is done to ensure the fire has been put out properly.

You will also need enough adults to stay for the duration of the party to supervise all children and assist with activities that will bring them closer to the fire, such as roasting marshmallows. 

Seating is something else to consider. You can ask guests to bring their own, portable chairs, or set up the seating on your own, ahead of time. You will want your seating to be close enough so that guests can enjoy sitting near the fire, but still a safe enough distance to avoid burns or accidents. 

When guests arrive, have them gather at a safe distance from the fire for a safety lesson and review of the rules you sent in the invitation. Make sure all guests have a clear understanding and are in agreement about the rules before allowing them to approach the fire area and participate in activities.

Campfire Food Ideas

You can bring any kind of food you like to feed the guests at your bonfire party. Picnic foods like finger sandwiches, wraps and chips are a great choice for any outdoor event, but for a bonfire birthday, it’s always fun to add some menu items that can actually be roasted over the flames. Some suggestions include:

  • Hot dogs (a fun idea is to set up a hot dog toppings bar where kids can load up their dogs with yummy extras after roasting it on the fire).
  • Corn on the cob (can be roasted in the husk in the embers or roasted over the fire on a stick).
  • Kebabs (anything that can be cooked on a skewer). 
  • Jiffy-pop popcorn (it's fun to “pop” the pan over the fire, but you may need to hold it with tongs rather than the handle provided).
  • Marshmallows.
  • S’mores.
  • Donuts (warmed over the fire on a stick). 
  • Baked potatoes (wrapped in foil and cooked in the embers. You can set up a toppings bar for these, too). 

Bonfire Party Fun

You’ve got the fire going and a crowd gathered around, enjoying the warm fire. Once they’re done eating, there are plenty of fun activities guests can enjoy, such as traditional campfire games such as word games, telling ghost stories or sing-along campfire songs.

Another idea for your bonfire sing-along is to bring in some music via a cell phone playlist and wireless speaker. Of course, the more traditional way to go would be to invite friends who play instruments to strum their acoustic guitars, play a portable piano keyboard or play their harmonicas for the group to enjoy. 

More ideas for bonfire birthday fun include:

The Birthday Cake

When it comes to sweet treats around a fire, S’mores are the customary standby, but for a birthday party you might want to put a new twist on this old favorite with a S’mores cake.

The Favors

Send guests home with a bonfire-themed thank you gift such as:

  • S’mores packets (place a couple of graham crackers, marshmallows and mini chocolate bars in a sandwich bag for guests to bring home and enjoy a s’mores treat at home).
  • A thermos and a package of hot cocoa mix.
  • A bag of marshmallows.
  • Harmonicas.

Seasonal Stuff

Some of the things you do for your bonfire birthday party will depend on the time of year it occurs. Here are some seasonal suggestions:

Summer

  • A summer bonfire can be combined with slumber parties, outdoor camping and backyard movies.
  • Serve traditional summer beverages like lemonade and iced tea.
  • A beach bonfire may also include swimming in the summertime.

Fall

  • Bonfire seating can be hay bales (place them at a safe distance from the fire) or large pumpkins (remove the stems).
  • Carve jack o’lanterns and light the candles inside to add more flickering ambiance to your party space.
  • Heat apple cider in a cauldron over the fire.
  • Serve pumpkin-spice flavored coffee and tea. 
  • Include some of these harvest party games.

Winter

  • Bring plenty of extra warming accessories like blankets, mittens, scarves and ear muffs. You can even give these out as party favors!
  • Serve hot cocoa and add a hot cocoa bar where kids can mix in some delicious treats.
  • If there is snow on the ground, play some winter outdoor games or combine your bonfire with some sledding fun

Spring

  • Roast marshmallow chicks and bunnies instead of ordinary marshmallows.
  • You may still need the hats and mittens for springtime bonfires, but perhaps pastel colored ones would be a good choice for the season.