Longing to take a trip but your budget has you staying home this year? Why not recreate your favorite vacation right in the backyard? My brother and his family love to camp and they have this backyard camping party when time or money keeps them home. If you love to camp, bring all the elements of a camping trip to your own backyard. Pop up a tent, grab a sleeping bag and build a campfire! And hey, if you don’t have a backyard, indoor camping can be a lot of fun, too.
This is a great party for almost anyone: the kids, a birthday party, a dads and daughters get-together, a neighborhood party… it could even be a romantic date night… (You know, campfire and all?) It could even be the perfect wedding shower for that couple you know who love the great outdoors. To encourage spending time outdoors, the National Wildlife Federation hosts an annual campout called The Great American Backyard Campout. Find out how to participate!
Start with a super easy menu. Barbeque Hobo Packs are perfect. You remember those aluminum foil packages you can put right on the fire? Hobo packs make cooking simple. Even better, they are easy serve and easy clean-up. If you can’t build a fire, you can do these on the grill or in the oven. I like to start with onion, tomatoes, potatoes and add a hamburger patty. Add a splash of olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
I like to cook fish this way, too. Add a squeeze of lemon, some fresh herbs, shallots, and a drizzle of olive oil—so easy and so good. For a more sophisticated menu, try my Fish in Parchment recipe but wrap it in foil instead of parchment paper.
If you want to keep it simple, you cannot beat a delicious fire-roasted hot dog! Other great menu items depending on the weather could be hot chocolate, chili or soup served in a big cast iron pot, roasted corn-on-the-cob, and baked potatoes. These are all easy to cook over a fire.
You’ve got to have S’mores at a campout. It’s a requirement! S’mores have really evolved. I love to put together a s’mores bar. It’s a lot of fun and everyone loves it. I put all of my ingredients for the S’mores bar in bowls so guests can select their favorites. In addition to the standard s’mores ingredients, Hershey bars, marshmallows, and graham crackers, I like to include Nutella, the hazelnut and chocolate spread – You don’t have to wait for the chocolate to melt!!! I also include raspberries or sliced strawberries, peanut butter, and different types of cookies. This will be a huge hit for the kids AND the adults!
Other easy menu items include popcorn, popsicles, granola bars, or fresh fruit.
You know, I always like to see what I have that I can use before I run out to buy any decorations for a party. For this party, camping lanterns, tents, sleeping bags, cots, or anything else you’d take on a camping trip works. Ask guests to bring their camping items, too.
Find inexpensive cotton ticking at the fabric store to use for the table--- and bandanas make the perfect napkins. You can even find paper plates in a bandana print! Tin pails are cheap and make great containers for serving food or icing down beverages and they even make good seating--- Bonus---you can re-purpose them to wash the dog or the car after the party is over!
For entertainment, you most certainly have to invite that guy you know who plays the guitar--- what’s a campout without singing around the campfire? Brush up on your ghost stories… that’s another camping essential. For the kids, you can have a game of hide ‘n seek or hide lots of small prizes around the yard and let the kids look for them. Get a telescope and star gaze; give prizes for the person who finds the most constellations. Baggo, the beanbag game, is always a winner! You can buy a baggo game online or make one with scrap plywood. Decorate the wood to match your party theme. Brilliant!
Make sure to have a “summer survival” kit handy for backyard entertaining: include bug spray, sunscreen, wipes, cheap sunglasses and even cheapie flip-flops so your guests can be comfortable. If it’s a cool night, make sure to have a few quilts or blankets available. Stack them or pile them up in baskets…
OK, are you ready to go camping in the backyard? This party will bring back old memories and make lots of new ones…. I have to admit, this is my favorite way to camp—my warm bed and a hot shower are just inside!