One of the challenges in hosting a teen birthday party is keeping everyone happy and engaged for the duration of the party. While hosting a scary movie night for your teen is one popular idea, so is throwing a backyard bonfire party. Your teen and her friends will discover that hanging around a bonfire is tons of fun, especially if there are marshmallows to roast and plenty of eats.
We threw a backyard bonfire birthday party for our teenager this past winter which ended up being a huge success even though the night time temps were in the teens. Here's a checklist of tips and hints that will help make your teen bonfire party run as smoothly as ours.
Check with the city first. While most bonfire parties are held at the beach or in a big empty field, some cities will permit bonfires in city limits as long as the fire is contained in a pit or fire ring and a safe distance away from trees, houses, and other flammable structures. Before sending out the party invitations, check with City Hall first to find out what restrictions there might be.
Share your plans with the neighbors. If your home is in a closed-in suburban neighborhood, do let your neighbors know about your plans for a bonfire party. This gives them some assurance that the party won't be an out-of-control, unsupervised event and will avoid the embarrassment of having the police or the fire department called to your home.
Set up the bonfire in a safe, roomy location. Once you get the OK from the city and your neighbors, place the fire pit in an area of the yard away from buildings and overhanging trees yet with plenty of room for guests to sit or stand around. What we did was set our bonfire kettle in the middle of our winter-dormant vegetable garden, which had plenty of space. For seating, I rolled several logs around the pit and set out a dozen resin chairs. Old blankets were piled on the patio for kids who needed a little extra warmth or wanted to sit on the ground.
Hang twinkle lights near danger zones. If your yard has low hanging trees and a clothes line like ours, draping twinkle lights around the obstructions will prevent accidents. A few tiki torches can also be scattered around the yard to brighten dark corners.
Start the fire early. It takes time to build a roaring bonfire, which is why we started our fire about 90 minutes before the party started. Once the party was underway, I assigned several teens the task of keeping the bonfire burning. This freed me up to take care of the food, movies, and other party events going on indoors.
Have plenty of food and drinks on hand. While a hotdog roast is one idea of bonfire food, I set up a taco and nacho bar out on the patio instead which our teen guests could assemble and then bring them to the bonfire area to eat. An ice chest full of drinks and fixings for s'mores finished up the menu.
Game planning. One of the reason my kids' birthday parties always seem to be a success is that I keep a couple of game ideas "in reserve" if the party starts to lag. Neighborhood scavenger hunts, a treasure hunt and the game "Twister" are just a few ideas of outdoor party games that teens will enjoy once they get tired of the bonfire.
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