How to Throw an Epic Bonfire Birthday Party

fire roasted murshmallows
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If you’re looking for a fun yet unique way to celebrate a friend or loved one's special day, consider throwing them a bonfire birthday party. More than just a basic bash, a bonfire party delivers a unique experience that both the guest of honor and their friends will remember for years to come.

Location

A bonfire usually requires plenty of open space to accommodate its oversized flames—and guests—safely. To properly host a bonfire birthday party, choose a spot that has ample room for safe seating (both close to, and away from, the fire), as well as room for guests to mix, mingle, and enjoy any additional activities like lawn games. If your backyard doesn't boast enough square footage, consider hosting at a nearby beach, open field, or park instead—inquire about rental fees and regulations, and obtain any required permits beforehand.

Guest List

A bonfire party sounds like so much fun that you may be tempted to invite everyone your guest of honor knows. However, before you start sending out those invites, there are a few things to consider. First, ask yourself how many people your chosen location can accommodate safely. If you're hosting in a public spot, there may be city ordinances you need to abide by when it comes to your guest count. If a private backyard is your venue of choice, err on the side of caution with the invite list so you don't crowd your friends and family.

Another important point to consider: the age group of your party. Younger children should be accompanied by an appropriate number of adults for supervision, so remember to either include their parents in your headcount (you can mention that they're invited when writing your invitations) or plan to have a few of your friends on-hand to help wrangle the kiddos. Even if your party is for tweens or teens who are more likely to be dropped off and left in your care, it's still a good idea to have a few adults on-site to supervise the fire.

When it comes to communicating with guests, your invitations are your friend. On there, you can post all the need-to-know-info, from the time and location of the party to any extras guests should plan on bringing (like a folding chair, bug spray, or a blanket). 

Bonfire

Before you're able to settle in fireside, you have to actually build the fire. Tap someone well-versed in fire safety and maintaining a flame—they can help to build and monitor the bonfire and ensure it has been properly extinguished at the end of the party.

As your guests arrive, fill them in on any general fire safety rules you've put in place for the evening. Are blankets banned from around the flame, or are kids not allowed to roast marshmallows solo? Say so outright; that way everyone knows what to expect (and how to stay safe) throughout the evening. Lastly, be sure to have plenty of extra wood and kindling on-hand to keep the flames burning—and the party going—all night long.

Food

Any kind of food suits a bonfire party: picnic foods like sandwiches, wraps, and chips are a great choice for any outdoor event—you could also consider adding in some eats that can be roasted over a flame, like hot dogs, corn on the cob, and, of course, marshmallows. No matter what you choose, make sure you have plenty of disposable dishware and cutlery on hand for guests, along with garbage bags so the temptation to throw trash into the flames isn't there.

Fun Activities

You’ve got the fire roaring and a crowd gathered around—so now what? Once everyone has had their fill of food, there's still plenty of fun to be had, from playful field games and charades to ghost stories or sing-along campfire songs. You can also set the mood with a feel-good playlist and outdoor speakers, inviting guests to dance along if there's space to do so safely. 

Sweet Treats

When it comes to sweet fireside treats, s’mores are a no-brainer. Give the bonfire staple a birthday-worthy upgrade with a DIY s'mores bar, s'mores cookies, or a wow-worthy s'mores pie.

Favors

Thank guests for coming with a thoughtful takeaway, like s'mores kits (place a couple of graham crackers, marshmallows, and mini chocolate bars in a sandwich bag), a cute thermos filled with hot cocoa mix, or a batch of upgraded homemade marshmallows.

Seasonal Extras

Looking to add a seasonal twist to your bash? Try out one of these clever ideas:

Summer

  • Combine your bonfire with an outdoor camping slumber party, complete with backyard movies.
  • Serve up traditional summer sips like lemonade and iced tea.
  • Opt for a beach bonfire so guests can indulge in a sunset swim.

Fall

  • Swap folding chairs for festive hay bales that guests can sit on fireside (be sure to place them at a safe distance from the flames).
  • Carve pumpkins 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. 
  • Play a few harvest party games.

Winter

  • Break out plenty of extra cozy accessories like blankets, mittens, scarves, and earmuffs. You can even give them out as party favors!
  • Set up a hot cocoa bar where kids can mix in some delicious toppings.
  • 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.
  • Combine your bonfire party with an egg hunt.