How to Host a Bonfire Party

A backyard bonfire party, complete with snacks, fireworks and friends, is roaring good fun on a summer night.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

After long days of swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding at the cabin, my family and I gather around the bonfire before settling in for the night. It has become quite the family tradition. Some nights are for lounging where others are for hosting bonfire parties with our extended family and friends (and depending on the night, the tiki bar comes out to play!).

Here are some of my family’s tried and true tips for hosting the ultimate bonfire party.

Choose a Theme

PU5534; opener; HCA opener; Dusk; dusky; night; yard; backyard; summer; picnic; nioght; party; bonfire; overhead camera angle; wood surface blue wood surface; green wood surface; picnic table; outdoors; 16461 Favorite Hot Chocolate; 42362 S'mores Cupcakes; 112361 Cheese and Pimiento Spread; 167568 Watermelon and Cucumber Salsa; hotdogs; buns; candles; thermos; s'mores; marshmallows; chocolate; graham crackers; cocoa; veggie tray; veggies; wood tray; copy space; 2 page spread; condensed milk; baking cocoa; water; vanilla extract; Sweetened whipped cream; marshmallows; chocolate syrup; Pirouette cookies; sharp white cheddar cheese; cream cheese; Worcestershire sauce; white vinegar; white pepper; garlic powder; cayenne pepper; pimientos; crackers; vegetables; veggieswater; buttermilk; eggs; canola oil; vanilla extract; flour; sugar; baking cocoa; baking soda; salt; baking powder; FROSTING; butter; confectioners' sugar; vanilla extract; marshmallow creme; graham cracker crumbs; milk chocolate candy bars; Toasted marshmallows; watermelon; chopped cucumber; sweet onion; fresh cilantro; jalapeno pepper; lime juice; salt; salsa

My family loves any excuse to bring out the tiki bar, but there are plenty of other fun bonfire ideas to choose from. Some of our other favorites are glow-in-the-dark (with glow-in-the-dark attire, of course), patriotic and an outdoor movie bonfire. No matter which theme you choose, they’re all simple to set up on a whim. Looking for more themes? Learn how to host a murder mystery party.

Bonfire party theme ideas:

Start with a Fire Pit

The fire itself is the main event, so you’ll want to be prepared when it comes to your fire pit. If you don’t already have one, you can choose from fire tables, tabletop fire fixtures, chimineas and standard fire pits—whatever fits your space and needs best. (FYI, we’re obsessed with the Breeo fire pit.) If you’re handy, you can even build a fire pit yourself.

Before you even pick which is best for your space, read up on local laws. Some cities have specific ordinances regarding recreational backyard fires, and you’ll want to ensure you’re following guidelines to keep you and your neighbors safe.

Set up the Space

How To Throw A Bonfire Partytaste of home

Make sure there is ample seating for your guests, who’ll want to be front row to the warmth. Set up some stools, lawn chairs or benches. We also suggest tucking blankets into baskets for when the sun has fully set and the temps have finally dropped.

Make Your Own Mood Lighting

Bonfire Lightstaste of home

If you’re feelin’ extra fiery, create cute and economical tea light holders out of soup cans. Simply use a hammer and nail to punch holes in any pattern you choose. Then, place them around your backyard for a glowy effect or cluster them together on your serving table to act as a centerpiece.

And for a fun activity to further light up your backyard, look to hand-held fireworks, such as party poppers or sparklers. To adorably display the latter, fill a metal pail with sand or small pebbles, then arrange the sparklers, metal side down, in the bottom. Voila!

Plan a Bonfire Party Menu

Bonfire Party Foodtaste of home

And what’s a party without food? Hot dogs, brats and pudgy pies are the quintessential bonfire foods that you absolutely need around the fire. These recipes will help you take your bonfire party menu above and beyond.

  • Favorite Hot Chocolate: Sweeten things up by serving this steamy drink from insulated bottles or mugs. Trust us—the rich sipper is best enjoyed fireside. Plus, it offers a fun new take on the quintessential bonfire combo of chocolate and marshmallows.
  • Cheese & Pimiento Spread: For partygoers with a taste for the southern classic—or even just for those who love cheesy goodness, this spread is perfect. Pair it with veggies or, to match the twinkly night sky above, star-shaped crackers.
  • Watermelon & Cucumber Salsa: For something on the fresher side, look no further than this condiment. It’s delectable piled high on everything, including hot dogs!
  • S’mores Cupcakes: For another variation on classic s’mores, your crew will love these bite-size cakes. With toasty frosting and customizable toppings, they’re hard to resist.

Or, if traditional s’mores are what you’re craving, make sure you’re stocked with roasting sticks, marshmallows, graham crackers and your selection of chocolate candy bars. Don’t stop at just Hershey’s bars! Garnish ’em with Reese’s, Crunch bars, even Butterfingers. Yum!

Hungry for more? We’ve got plenty of other backyard bonfire recipes for you to consider:

More Bonfire Recipes to Try
1 / 39

Play Bonfire Games

Depending on the age group of your party, you can choose from a wide variety of bonfire games. Unleash your inner child with a round of hide-and-seek tag or kick the can. Bonus: everyone will sleep great tonight after a round of these. If it’s an adult-only party, try singing some classic campfire songs or playing a round of telephone. Check out these other outdoor games for more ideas, too.

Our favorite bonfire games:

  • Hide-and-seek or hide-and-seek tag
  • Kick the can
  • Telephone
  • Truth or dare
  • Campfire songs
  • Two truths and a lie
  • Charades
  • Mafia
  • Outdoor scavenger hunt
  • Red rover

Annamarie Higley, Taste of Home Associate Editor, contributed to this article.

Christina Herbst
Christina is a Social Media Editor for Taste of Home. She enjoys trying out local restaurants and coffeehouses and adding copious amounts of garlic and cheese to any recipe she can get her hands on. In her free time, you can find her hunting down one-of-a-kind furniture pieces at thrift and vintage stores and DIYing trendy home decor crafts.