Whether you're pitching a tent in your backyard or chilling fireside in a forest, we have the tips and tricks for making your campout the ultimate outdoor party. Get ideas for decorations, recipes, games, and more!
Get the Fire Going
The focal point for a campout? A fire, of course! Personal pits are great for backyard gatherings, while scout-style bonfires better suit off-site parties. If you're on campgrounds, stick to established fire pits. Don't have 'em? Check local fire laws before building one of your own.
Editor's Tip: Keep flames fierce all party long by using an assortment of dry firewood of different sizes and types. A typical campfire uses about 4-6 pieces of wood per hour. We recommend setting yours up tepee or crisscross style.
Bonus: Kiddos coming? Turn log gathering into an exciting hunt -- homemade party favors are the perfect prize.
Stock Up on Matches
One thing you mustn't forget: matches! The spark-starters are essential to a successful campout. Keep them stashed in a dry container, away from both water and the little ones. We recommend long-reach matches -- they're safer and stronger, and make lighting charcoal easier.
Pitch a Tent
Backyard, forest, or lakeside -- a tent is a must. Be sure to pack enough, including one for the kids. (They'll love it!) Don't have one? Borrow from a neighbor or friend, or purchase one at your local sporting goods store. Just be sure to keep the set-up directions nearby -- they're especially handy for first-time campers!
Editor's Tip: Along with personal pillows and sleeping bags, you also can ask guests to bring inflatable mattresses. The added cushion ensures guests stay extra comfy all evening long.
Set Out Seating
Bye-bye logs -- hello comfy sling chairs! Kick back and relax with a set of totable folding chairs. If there's not enough for everyone, ask guests to bring their own. Adhesive labels make it easy to keep track of who's whose.
Grab Grilling Essentials
What's a campout without the grub! A portable grill is essential -- along with tongs, aluminum foil, charcoal, and a preplanned menu.
Editor's Tip: Color-code tongs with duct tape: one color for raw food, another for cooked. This helps avoid cross-contamination.
Stock a Cooler
When planning your menu, stick to food items that can be kept fresh in a cooler and made easily with a quick toss on the grill. Think burgers, brats, and veggies. Nonrefrigerated items, such as chips and buns, should be stashed in a tightly sealed plastic tub, along with serving ware and plenty of hand sanitizer.
Bring It: Zero-Calorie Iced Tea
Pack and serve a pitcher of refreshing homemade iced tea. Find out how to brew it in your refrigerator!
Grill Some Dogs
Line 'em out and load 'em up. A plate of freshly grilled franks is a delicious way to round out your campfire dinner. Place the dogs on toasted buns, then let guests dress them as they please. Get fun ideas for toppers below.
Prepare Hobo Packs
Trust us -- food in a packet doesn't get any better than this. Grab a roll of aluminum foil and get wrapping! Fresh greens, chopped onions, or a mix of favorite veggies tastes great when locked in with garlic and other scrumptious seasonings. Make dinner a snap by preparing the packs the morning of your campout.
Editor's Tip: Because a foil pack cooks with steam, it's important to make sure the pouch is sealed tight enough to trap the tasty juices inside.
Stay Fresh with Fruit
Fresh fruit will be a welcome addition to a rather savory menu. Slice melon or pineapple before you head out, or tote along a bag of no-fuss apples to share. Stash the sweet snacks in a sealed container or baggie to help keep bugs (and bears!) away.
Make Individual S'more Kits
S'mores don't get any cuter than this. Line empty produce containers with colorful paper napkins, then fill with all the fixings: graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows. The personal kits are an adorable way to ensure every guest gets enough goods.
Crank the Tunes
Every campfire calls for some tunes. Bring a radio, or make a fun playlist of your own. Be sure to include a mix of both current and classic artists, such as Johnny Cash and The Lumineers. With a livelier bunch? Grab a guitar and get grooving with kid-friendly sing-alongs.
Campouts call for lots of comfy blankets. Guests can use them as a picnic blanket during dinner or cozy on up to them later by the fire. If it's overnight, ask guests to bring their own sleeping bags and pillows.
Stock up on Flashlights
Brighten up the night with personal flashlights. Don't have enough? Look for them on the cheap at your local hardware store, or ask guests to bring their own. You never know when any late night adventures might arise -- just be sure to check the batteries before the sun sets!
Keep Games on Hand
Enjoy a night of stargazing, card-playing, and domino-stacking. Come bonfire, guests can grab their flashlights for a session of good old-fashioned, ghost story swapping.
Make a First Aid Kit
Keep your friends and family safe with a well-stocked first aid kit. Think bandages, sunscreen, anti-itch creams, tweezers, and child-safe pain relievers. Also, be sure to ask guests about any allergies prior to the party.
Make Party Favors
Assemble your own trail mix with purchased nuts, chocolate chunks, mini marshmallows, and dried fruit. Before you head out to the camp grounds, divvy up your trail mix into small bags to pass and share. The s'more-inspired snack packs make the perfect party favor.
No matter which season you camp, it's important to stay hydrated. Fill a portable tub or cooler with ice and easy-to-grab water bottles for guests. Environment-friendly canteens also make fun and authentic containers.
Load Up on Bug Spray
Nothing's peskier than a bunch of bugs. Combat the little nats with bug spray, repellent, and tikilike torches. If you're off-site and camping overnight, we recommend packing long sleeves and pants.
Staying overnight? Not to worry. Sleepyheads will love waking up to easy skillet eggs or these grilled purchased doughnuts. Dunk the morning treats in a strawberry basil or mint julep dip.
Breakfast Idea: DIY Bagel Spreads
Packed up the grill already? Not a problem. These make-ahead bagel spreads make breakfast easier than ever! Find out which flavors we're loving.