While we may have enjoyed the last of our summer barbeques, entertaining outdoors doesn’t need to stop just because the temperatures have dropped. Bonfire night provides the perfect opportunity to gather with friends and family in the comfort of our homes without having to freeze in the middle of a field somewhere and pay for overpriced mulled cider whilst waiting for a fireworks display! Hosting your own party is the perfect opportunity to get one last hurrah out of our own back gardens before hiding the garden furniture under wraps for the next few months.
If you are looking to host your own bonfire night party, we’ve pulled together some tips to make sure it’s the best night of the year. From fireworks to food, here’s what you need to make sure your party goes down a treat.
One of the most enjoyable parts of Bonfire night is setting off fireworks. From Catherine wheels to cakes, rockets to fountains, there are plenty of different kinds to get everyone in the crowd ‘ooohing’ and ‘awwing’. What you will need, however, is a bit of space to make sure everyone gathered is safe. Check the packaging on the fireworks before you purchase them as they’ll likely recommend a safe distance from which to set them off. Once purchased, get out your tape measure and make sure you have at least 5 meters between your display and your guests and then add additional space for any fallout. Bear in mind you may need as much as 25 meters or more depending on how large a display you are planning.
If your garden is large enough for a fireworks display, then it’s probably large enough to include a bonfire as well. Again, safety is paramount here so you’ll need a site that is a safe distance from any trees, shrubs or overhanging branches. Dig a shallow circle into the turf or soil and surround it with large stones to contain the fire well. If you’re using logs, stack them log-cabin-style with kindling or newspapers in the centre. This allows enough air circulation to create a bit of an updraft, meaning your fire will burn hot and bright but in order to keep that lovely flame alive, you (or someone you appoint) will need to continue to look after it throughout the night to make sure it doesn’t go out halfway through proceedings.
Make sure any smaller children are well looked after throughout the evening and provide some sparklers for their entertainment as well – just make sure they are wearing gloves before handing them over. Dogs and other animals may also be scared of fireworks so be sure you know that your animals are looked after and as a courtesy, let your neighbours know what your planning (or invite them around for the night – what better way to get to know them?) just in case they are finding spent shells in their gardens the following morning!
Plan Your Seating
While your garden chairs will be perfectly acceptable as seating, if you are expecting a large crowd, consider adding additional seating so that people can relax and enjoy the evening, even after the last of the fireworks have gone off. You can rent haybales covered in a few blankets as a great alternative to anything permanent and will give your gathering an outdoorsy, rustic flair.
It’ll be cold so you’ll want to add in warmth with plenty of available throws, blankets and cushions and make sure there are plenty of tables – small or large – to allow people to set down drinks or plates throughout the evening. And don’t forget to give your guests somewhere to dispose of any rubbish in bins placed in various spots.
Another enjoyable aspect of outdoor entertaining is that the food you serve needn’t be anything fancy. Anything that’s easy to eat with your hands is fair game so burgers and sausages are always a hit. Consider a couple of warming comfort dishes too which are perfect for chilly evenings; traditional Lancashire hotpot is always a hit as is Chilli con Carne served with rice or hot baked potatoes.
For the adults, it’ll be the first time this year you can get away with drinking warmed up alcoholic beverages so consider a few serving mulled wine or cider for those who aren’t driving. For those that are, hot cups of tea or hot chocolate will do just nicely.
And of course, no party is complete without a few sweet treats. Toffee apples and traditional Parkin encapsulate the season. Or, you can take inspiration from across the pond with S’mores: simply roast marshmallows over the fire and then sandwich between two digestive biscuits and a piece of chocolate – heaven!
And finally, consider a bit of decor for your outdoor space. Trail festoon lighting across the seating areas and light up paths or patios with a few lanterns. On tables, consider a few tea lights in votives or hang solar-lit paper lanterns in nearby trees to add to the festive ambience.
Drape blankets and cushions across seating for both practicality and aesthetics and, if they are still going strong after Halloween, set out a few pumpkins to add to the autumn scenery. You may also want to consider pulling together a playlist as background music to relax and entertain your guests into the evening.
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