As we start to gear up for the summer and temperatures begin to heat up, many of us will want to retreat to the cool relief of those perfect summer evenings. If you are lucky enough to own a fire pit in your backyard, you can continue the fun into the night, even as temperatures drop and the sky darkens. While you can spend a lovely evening just sitting around the fire and enjoying the company of your loved ones, there are also countless activities you can do that are perfect for extending the summer fun after-hours. Get cozy and try out our ideas to turn a good night into a spectacular one and maybe get inspired to create your own fireside activities!
We have to start out with the classic, time-honored campfire tradition: roasting marshmallows and making gooey s’mores. This is a great activity if you have kids, but let’s be honest – many of us have fond memories of childhood s’mores and have carried that sweet tooth in adulthood. Did you know you can safely cook a marshmallow over your gas fire pit? This makes it easy to recreate the nostalgia at home, no matter what kind of fire pit you have.
What you will need:
- Graham crackers
- Chocolate bars, like Hershey’s
- Large marshmallows
- Skewers long enough to hold over the fire for a while
- Wet wipes for the messy eaters
Tell a Group Story
Put a spin on the typical fireside pastime of telling ghost stories or regaling your comrades with tales of adventure with this twist. Instead of having a single storyteller from beginning to end, craft a creative story by telling it round-robin style a few pieces at a time. This is how to start:
- First, choose one person to start the story with a couple sentences. Alternatively, you could have each person present write down a prompt and then draw one out of a hat to get you started.
- As you continue around the circle, each person will add a few more lines to create the next part of the story and move it along.
- If you have a large group, the last person in the circle is responsible for ending the story. If you have a smaller group, you can go around the circle a few times until the story feels sufficiently long.
There are also fun variations on this method of storytelling, such as Fortunately, Unfortunately. For this game, the person who is starting the story will instead begin with a positive statement, starting with the word “fortunately.” The next person will follow with an “unfortunately” statement, and so on and so forth, until the story is either finished or no one can stop laughing long enough to contribute any further! For example:
Player 1: “Fortunately, my mother finally let me have a dog.”
Player 2: “Unfortunately, the dog ate the entire pie my mom set on the table to cool.”
The fun part of group storytelling comes in the unpredictability of the tale and not knowing the next twists and turns it will take. It is also nice to create something with everyone’s input, where each person puts their own unique spin on their segment. Try writing it down and retelling it again later or during your next fire pit night!
Have a Movie Night
With the warmth and coziness of your fire pit, it is the perfect excuse to move your family movie night outdoors! These days, it is very easy and affordable to create your own set up outside, without having to drag your TV to the patio with the world’s longest extension cord. You can easily huddle in front of a laptop, or, if you want the full drive-in movie theater experience or need to entertain a larger crowd, you can pick up an inexpensive cordless projector for around $100 and pair it with some Bluetooth speakers. Here are some ways to make your movie night one to remember:
- You do not need to spend money or time installing a pricey outdoor projector screen. You can make a screen yourself. Simply find a white bedsheet and hang it from a clothesline or against the side of your home. With this method, you have the flexibility to set up your screening anywhere in the yard or on the patio that you choose. Be sure to anchor the edges of the sheet with rocks or something heavy, in case the wind picks up and to keep it smooth.
- Create your own popcorn bar! With the fire pit nearby, this is the perfect opportunity to pop some kernels the old-fashioned way by cooking up some Jiffy Pop in its foil over the fire. When it is ready, let everyone make their own flavor by setting out mix-ins, such as chocolate chips, candy, pretzels, nuts, and seasonings. And of course, be sure not forget the butter!
- Make your set up extra cozy. Set up sleeping bags and pillows or cushions on the grass to make it feel like you are camping. Buy some fairy lights and string them around the border of your screen to add a little movie theater magic to your evening.
Try Singing Karaoke
Another fireside favorite is whipping out the guitar and singing campfire songs. Since your fire pit allows you enjoy the comforts of a campfire from home, you have the option to swap out the acoustics for some electronics! If your family or friends always love singing along to that one favorite song on the radio, consider trying karaoke during your next outdoor evening.
If you already have a karaoke machine, just grab an extension cord and you are all set. However, if you do not have one of these, you can easily work around this and still have a stellar night. Here is what you will need:
- A laptop, or even a smartphone with internet connection and some good speakers. Alternatively, if you have some portable speakers or some already installed outside, you could connect your device to those.
- No microphone, no problem. Grab a broom, a toy mike, a wad of foil, a pair of socks – anything that you can hold up to your face for dramatic effect as you belt out the chorus.
- What if you can’t seem to remember all of the words to that song you want to sing? Luckily, there are lots of karaoke videos available for free on YouTube with instrumentals and song lyrics streaming across the page at the right moments. Just search your favorite song with the word “karaoke” after it, and you should pull up at least a few results.
If you really want to put on a performance, dig up your Halloween box and throw on some costumes or raid your closet for your fanciest attire and strut your stuff. Silly wigs, outrageous hats, and novelty sunglasses are all encouraged.
This is just a short list of ideas to get you started, but there are endless ways to have fun and enjoy your fire pit. The warmth and gentle light provides the perfect ambiance for a night at home with the people you care about. Get creative and try to come up with some new games and activities of your own!