I always have to laugh in the summer when all the bonfire Pinterest ideas pop up. In Ohio, it’s too hot for a bonfire in the summer. Sure there’s the occasional cool night and of course when camping, but where I live, fire pits are best enjoyed in the fall. (Or spring. We love to burn stray branches when we clean our yard in the spring.) Bonfires are one of those things for us. Whenever the kids suggest one, I’m always a little hesitant. Do we have any wood? Will it be too wet outside? When was the last time it rained? Is it going to rain? Do we have anything to make s’mores? (Because we know that’s why they’re asking for a bonfire in the first place.) But once all those things are worked out, bonfire nights are our favorites. Sometimes the kids invite some friends from the neighborhood and sometimes it’s just us, but when we have bonfires, I know we’re making memories we’ll all treasure.
Toward the end of my pregnancy for my youngest, I was really tired and almost always sick. My kids had this idea for an impromptu bonfire and they wanted to invite all their neighborhood friends and their parents. I love to host people, but I can be a little crazy about making sure the house is clean before company. Just ask my family. Well, in a matter of minutes, the kids had planned the most epic bonfire ever and I was too tired to worry about whether the hedges in the back were trimmed or if the deck needed to been swept off. I looked at my husband and said, “If all these people are coming over. I should probably not wear these pants.” I was wearing my scrubbiest pajama pants, but that was the only change I had the energy to make. Ryan said, “I love super-pregnant, super-chill Shannon.” I told him not to get used to it. And in a matter of weeks, I went back to my type A personality and stopped being “super-chill”. Bonfires do help me chill out though. And every bonfire needs s’mores.
S’mores Are a Must
Like I said before, s’mores are a necessity for bonfire nights. I know not everyone likes s’mores, but sometimes it takes thinking outside the box if you’re not a fan of the classic recipe. Hershey’s milk chocolate is the expectation, but there are plenty of other choices. If a s’more is too sweet for you, I suggest something with peanut butter, like a Reese’s, for the chocolate. That little bit of salt cuts the sweet a little. Really any kind of chocolate will work. I also like using chocolate graham crackers instead of chocolate. That’s a great way to get all the flavors without feeling like you’re teeth are going to rot. Maybe after Halloween, make a platter of left over candy and see what you like best on a s’more. Here are some other variations on the classic that are worth a try.
I remember a time when my sister-in-law was in town. The kids wanted to make s’mores and we didn’t have any of the ingredients. She looked in our pantry and found Golden Graham cereal, mini marshmallows, and chocolate chips. Fairy S’mores! The kids were amazed. Such a cute idea.
We also like to play games around the bonfire. Our favorite bonfire game is Mafia. If you haven’t played it, here’s a link for instructions. This is better with larger groups, but we’ve done it with just the six of us. My husband is great at running the game and coming up with interesting stories about our various murders. It’s always a good time.
If that’s too complicated or to creepy for your taste, you can always do telephone, two truths and a lie (that’s a tough one with family because you probably know when they’re lying), or twenty questions.
Another game we love is Psychologist. When I looked for a link, I learned no one calls it that. According the internet, it’s called Psychiatrist. Either way, it’s a fun game you can tailor to your group. You can make it difficult for those who want a challenge and easy for beginners.
Whether you play games or not, bonfires are a great time for families. You really can’t outgrow bonfires, so keep them regular. The proximity of a fire ring insures you’ll be looking at each other, so use that time to connect. Bonfires aren’t rushed or scheduled in the middle of other things. They’re…super chill. Invite friends or don’t. Play games or just talk. Get creative with the s’mores and make memories. It’s totally worth a trip to the store for wood and sugary things when you hear the kids laughing and sharing. My friend posted this quote last week.
“Poking at a campfire with a stick is one of life’s great satisfactions.”
I couldn’t agree more.