Bonfire Party Ideas

Put some of our bonfire party ideas into action and celebrate a special birthday against a backdrop of crackling rustic perfection.

One of the advantages of a bonfire party is that it can be staged during three seasons of the year. The fire should keep your guests toasty in all but the coldest weather.

The very best setting is any place you can build a real bonfire. If you're not allowed to do that in your area, a fire pit or chiminea will do just fine.

Outdoor Decorating

Set out lanterns with votives for soft lighting around the outskirts of your party area. String tiny white lights on and around the trees (or fence or bushes or whatever happens to be in your backyard). Large round paper lanterns hanging from trees (but not too close to your fire!) are pretty too and add bright spots of color.

If you're feeling kitschy, cut out large cardboard stars and crescent moons, sprinkle silver glitter over the front and back surfaces, and hang them from tree limbs.

Make sure to provide enough lawn chairs or blankets for seating, and have some small tables scattered around so people can place their drinks and plates down. 

Serve a Classic Bonfire Party Menu

Actually, is there such a thing? Who knows, but here's our version of one.

The Food:

photo of three caramel apples
  • hot dogs
  • salad and cold pasta dishes (during warmer months)
  • chili or a hearty soup or stew (if the weather is chilly)
  • s'mores
  • caramel apples

The Drinks:

  • sangria, lemonade, iced tea, beer, and water (in warm weather)
  • hot chocolate (you could set up a hot chocolate bar outside too)
  • hot apple cider (rum optional) 
  • mulled wine, Swedish glögg or German glühwein 
  • spiced beers  
  • coffee (Irish coffee would really warm up your guests) and tea

   Hot Apple Cider 

  •  1 gallon good quality apple cider
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  •  1/2 cup packed dark or light brown sugar, or to taste
  •  1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  •  1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  •  1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Place all ingredients in a crock pot, dutch oven, or large saucepan. Cover and heat on medium until completely heated through. This will probably take a couple of hours. Stir the mixture occasionally. Once it's heated through, adjust the heat setting on the crockpot to low. 

I leave a bottle of dark rum by my crock pot so that the guests who like their cider spiked can add it themselves. If you'd like to spike the whole recipe, add about a cup of rum to start with (just before serving time), and then adjust the amount from there.

   Mulled Wine

  • 1 750-ml bottle of a full-bodied red wine
  • 1 cup Brandy (optional)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • whole cloves and cinnamon sticks
  • grated fresh nutmeg (ground nutmeg works too)
  • orange and apple slices
  • a square of cheesecloth

Throw everything into a large pot (crockpot or Dutch oven) and stir. Warm it very gently over low heat for about an hour. Keep an eye on it and stir occasionally. Very important: don't let it boil!

We've got suggestions for types of red wine that work best for mulling here, along with a list of appetizers that pair beautifully with mulled wine. 

   German Glühwein

  • 1 750-ml bottle dry red wine
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • a bit of cardamom (ginger works too)

Heat the red wine gently in a crockpot.

Cut the lemon into slices and add to the wine. Then add the cinnamon, cloves, sugar, and a little cardamom or ginger to taste.

Heat for about 5 minutes (do not boil!) and then let stand for about an hour. Before serving, reheat and strain. Serve in prewarmed glasses or mugs.

Favor Ideas

  • tiny lanterns with a tea light tucked inside
  • homemade caramel apples wrapped in colored cellophane and tied with a ribbon
  • miniature flashlights
  • ingredients for several s'mores, wrapped up in a decorative paper box or bag
  • a set of skewers wrapped with a fabric ribbon
  • personalized mugs (this DIY project only requires a trip to the Dollar store and a Sharpie pen or two)
  • homemade marshmallows