Bonfire Party Fun
There’s something very primitive and satisfying about gathering together around a huge bonfire in the garden, faces a-glow, cradling a hot mug of soup or a snifter of something bracing, and watching the sparks rise into the sky as the fireworks excite and delight. A bonfire party needs a little organisation but simplicity and food to share is the order of the day.
Grown-ups can get busy planning the menu and building the bonfire in advance. Younger partygoers can be working on making a guy from old clothes, stuffed with newspaper, straw or anything that burns. If they’re feeling ambitious, make the head of the guy from papier mâché – though this needs a few days to dry before painting. A jaunty hat completes his look.
One job that’s definitely for the adults is buying, storing and lighting any fireworks. Or you might decide to attend an organised event first and have a bonfire party at home later, perhaps with sparklers for the children.
Picnic and patio tableware is best, as it won’t break. Lots of foil is handy for wrapping food. If you have access to hay bales, they make great outdoor seating, especially when covered with rugs to keep out the chill.
This is a party for all ages, from infants to grandparents, so go to town with your guest list. You could make light work of the catering by asking each family to contribute a small dish to share.
The bonfire is the main attraction and burning a guy is the key event but bobbing for apples is also traditional. A treasure hunt in the dark with torches would be fun too. The appeal of preparing and eating food outdoors in the cold air often proves entertaining in itself and you can round off with a singsong round the fire.
Hearty, warming food such as potatoes baked in the oven, wrapped in foil and finished in the embers of the bonfire; honey mustard sausages, burgers with ketchup and caramelised onions, mugs of hearty soup and crusty bread – anything that’s easy to eat with your fingers in the dark! Use cool bags to insulate the prepared food and keep it warm.
For dessert, we suggest Eve’s pudding (spicy, stewed apple topped with sponge), gingerbread and toffee apples.
To finish, provide bamboo sticks and a bowl of marshmallows for toasting by the fire.
A warming punch is ideal to greet your guests as they arrive – add cloves, cinnamon sticks and sugar, plus a little brandy, to a bottle of red wine (or even cider) and garnish with orange slices. Serve in robust glasses or mugs.
Cold drinks might include Winter Pimms and ‘stirrup cups’ such as sloe gin or Bloody Mary cocktails. Chill jugs or bottles of beer, cider and soft drinks beforehand and they should stay cool outside on all but the warmest of November evenings.
Safety is a priority. Check that fireworks are stored and lit according to the instructions and supervise children holding sparklers. Position your seating upwind of the bonfire, so that stray sparks won’t set light to hay, rugs or clothing. On the day, check the bonfire before lighting it for any hedgehogs that have taken refuge inside. Keep torches, water and a first aid kit handy for any incidents. Take care to ensure any dogs are well away from the noise – warn the neighbour
Wrap up warm and have fun!