10 Tips to Host an Epic Bonfire Party

How to throw an epic bonfire party with these hosting tips for food, drinks, seating, lighting, and games for a memorable night with friends and family.

bonfire party setup with food and beverage station

If there’s one thing we love on any given cool evening, it’s a bonfire party! Or I guess technically, since we have to keep it small living in town limits, it’s a campfire party.

Whatever you want to call it, we’ve learned a few tricks along the way for hosting a bonfire party ever since we built our DIY backyard fire pit 3 years ago.

DIY Fire Pit Built in a Weekend

Best Fire Pits

Even if you just have a simple campfire assembled with makeshift rocks/bricks, a basic store-bought fire pit, or a huge field with a brush pile to burn, a bonfire party is probably one of the easiest gatherings you could ever plan.

Before you choose which type of fire you want, be sure to follow local laws and city ordinances regarding recreational fires.

10 Hosting Tips for a Bonfire Party

It’s so easy to host, plus it’s a huge crowd-pleaser for all ages to get outside and enjoy the fresh air together!

So here is our simple go-to guide for hosting a bonfire party.

backyard fire pit party with food, drinks, and lawn games

1. Choose the Right Location

  • Select a safe, spacious, level area for your bonfire or campfire. Make sure it complies with local regulations and safety guidelines.
  • A backyard, beach, or campsite are ideal options, if not in your own backyard. Ensure there’s enough room for seating and activities as well as away from any structures that could cause a fire hazard.

2. Choose a Theme

Our family doesn’t typically do anything super “themey” for fire pit nights, but we do sometimes center them around specific holidays or birthdays.

Here are some simple bonfire theme ideas:

  • Patriotic
  • Spooky Halloween
  • Glow-in-the-Dark
  • Luau
  • Camp Out
fall bonfire party with s'mores, blankets, and lanterns

3. Send Invitations

I usually just make a simple invitation using an existing template in Canva to share with friends on social media, text, or email so all of the party info is clearly in one place. Evite is a simple paperless invitation solution too.

  • Create themed invitations that set the mood for your bonfire party, if you’re setting a theme.
  • Specify the date, time, location, dress code (if any), and any additional items guests should bring, such as blankets or camping chairs to ensure there is ample seating.

We often provide seating but sometimes that’s difficult with a large crowd, so have them pitch in if needed.

diy backyard fire pit

4. Fire Safety

  • Keep a fire extinguisher, water source, and first-aid kit nearby. (Since our fire pit is in our backyard, we keep our garden hose at the ready off to the side of our gathering area, just in case.)
  • Assign someone responsible for monitoring the fire and ensuring it’s properly extinguished at the end of the night. This fire pit snuffer lid comes in handy for that.
blanket and pillow on an adirondack chair

5. Cozy Blankets and Seating

  • Arrange comfortable seating around the bonfire. Adirondack chairs, blankets, and cushions create an extra relaxed atmosphere.
  • Be mindful that blankets and cushion fabrics can catch fire, so keep them clear of burning embers.
  • Tip: Keep an eye out for camp blankets at the thrift store. I see cute plaid blankets every time I thrift!

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lantern beside a backyard fire pit

6. Firewood and Kindling

  • Stock up on firewood and kindling to keep the fire burning throughout the evening. Make sure to keep it dry and out of the rain beforehand.
  • A mix of hardwoods like oak, maple, or hickory burns best.
  • This Firedragon blow poke tool is our favorite for stoking the fire.
  • Here are 5 ways to lay your campfire logs.
  • Tip: We like to save our dryer lint because it makes great kindling!
s'mores station setup in a picnic basket with ingredients and skewers

7. Food

Plan a menu that’s easy to eat around the fire. Consider classics like marshmallows for roasting, hot dogs, and s’mores.


Keep s’mores ingredients in mason jars inside of a picnic basket to keep the bugs away. Mix up the ingredients beyond the basic graham, marshmallow, and Hershey chocolate bars with different types of cookies and chocolate. Get boujee with creative s’mores combinations, if you want. 😉

These telescoping roasting skewers take up very little space to store, extend out to keep little hands from burns, and are color coded so party guests know whose is whose.

Creative S’mores Ingredients:

  • Cookies: graham crackers, chocolate chip cookies, fudge stripe cookies, snickerdoodle cookies, gingerbread cookies, shortbread cookies, double chocolate cookies, stroopwaffles, Oreos, Rice Krispies treats
  • Chocolate: Hershey bars, Reese’s cups, Kit Kats, Butterfingers, white chocolate, dark chocolate
  • Other ingredients: candied bacon, cookie butter, peanut butter, sea salt, roasted berries, nutella, salted caramel, toasted coconut, pretzels
s'mores station for a campfire party


If you’re showing an outdoor movie around the fire, provide popcorn too. You could even pop campfire popcorn! Kettle corn is a popular favorite too. We love using a Whirley-Pop for fresh, fluffy popcorn every time.

bonfire party food serving popcorn and apple cider

Hot Dogs and Brats

When providing hot dogs, use a condiment server to keep hot dog toppings cold outdoors. These condiment labels make things extra cute too.

Have you ever tried a brat on a pretzel bun drizzled with pub cheese? Or pimento cheese and relish on a hot dog? The richness of that creamy cheese with the acid of the pickle is a genius combination. Soooo good!

Crowd Favorite Creative Hot Dog Toppings:

  • Pimento cheese
  • Jalapenos
  • Diced onions
  • Chili
  • Coleslaw
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Sauerkraut
bonfire party food serving hot dogs

8. Beverages

The temperature outside determines the beverages we normally serve. Having a small table set up with a beverage station comes in handy with a crowd.

For cold beverages, we just have a metal tub or stand cooler stocked and ready for guests. For hot beverages, we serve them in a slow cooker with a ladle or right in a big pot over the fire.

Hot Beverages

  • Hot apple cider – spike it with cinnamon whiskey to make it boozy
  • Hot buttered rum – We make this every year for Christmas bonfire nights and it’s always a hit, with or without the rum!
  • Cocoa – Go crazy with creative hot chocolate toppings for something extra.
  • Warm mulled wine

Cold Beverages

  • Sodas
  • Beer/Wine
  • Cold cider
  • Sangria
backyard bonfire party lighting

9. Ambient Lighting

  • Enhance the bonfire’s ambiance with strategic lighting. String lights, lanterns, and candles can create a magical atmosphere. Here are more DIY backyard lighting tips.
  • Ensure pathways are well-lit to prevent accidents. (Solar powered pathway lights can help.)

Related: How to Hang Outdoor String Lights Anywhere in a Backyard

fall backyard movie night around a fire pit

10. Entertainment

  • Keep guests entertained with fun activities like ghost storytelling, acoustic guitar performances, or a playlist of your favorite songs. You can snag our Chill Campfire / Bonfire Party Playlist here on Spotify.
  • Don’t forget to bring along lawn games, cards, or a glow-in-the-dark frisbee for added fun.
  • Tip: Our kids love these Cosmic Magical Flames packets to toss into the campfire and make the flames change colors.

Leave plenty of room away from the fire pit for kids to run and play too.

Related: How to Set Up a Backyard Movie Night on a Budget


After the party is over, encourage guests to use designated trash bins and recycling containers to protect the environment and leave the location as beautiful as you found it.

Can you think of anything else you would add to the party hosting list?

If you want a relaxing party, bonfire night is the way to go. You can make it as simple or as over-the-top as you want, but the best part about a backyard bonfire party is you really only need a warm fire, a comfy chair, a beverage, and good conversation.

It really is the most low-key way to entertain if all you really want to do is chill. It’s why we host them so often ourselves.

More At Home Entertaining Tips

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  1. Love it! Such a beautiful yard for bonfires. Please, though, think twice about using dryer lint for starters or kindling — even in the great outdoors, it can release toxic chemicals and molds from the fabric fibers. Better safe than sorry on that one.