What’s better than huddling around the fire with your friends and family, lighting sparklers, setting off fireworks and toasting marshmallows? With many public displays not running due to budget issues and cost of living increases, many people are now considering fireworks at home.
In this article, we’ll talk about how to level up your bonfire night at home, save money, and keep everyone safe and sound throughout the night. So are you ready to host the best bonfire night of all time in your garden? Keep reading as we’ll show you how.
The benefits of an at-home Bonfire Night
Bonfire night is on the 5th of November. It’s also called Guy Fawkes Night to commemorate the failed and famous Gunpowder Plot from the 1600s. However, in recent years, it’s become a chance for the whole family to go out, enjoy the warmth of the bonfire and watch an epic fireworks display.
But free pyrotechnics events are hard to find these days. This means stay-at-home bonfire night parties have become more common, with families and friends gathering in intimate get-togethers with their favourite snacks, games and more.
Considering the cost of entry and food prices at some of the more commercial events, Bonfire Night at home could be considerably cheaper for larger groups – especially if you make it a ‘Bring your own’ party where your guests contribute snacks and drinks.
Of course, if you’re going the whole hog and having fires and fireworks, then it’s essential to be as safe as possible. Supervision of any children is essential, and build the bonfire in a clearing away from sheds, fences and trees or anything else flammable.
If you are going to have a fire, get some firewood in advance and search your garden or local woods for lumber or timber, which can be stacked in a pile under cover. These need to have minimal moisture content when used, and you’ll need some dry wood kindling too. Wet wood can produce thicker and darker smoke when burned in a fire, and any moisture evaporates and releases smoke.
If you plan to roast marshmallows or sausages at the the same time, buy firewood oak logs which are not just slow burning, but good for smoking with a rich, smoky flavour popular with barbecue enthusiasts. You can add this to your woodpile, and ensure you check it for animals before lighting.
Where possible, don’t have a freestanding bonfire as they can be hard to contain and control, and there are laws relating to smoke and nuisance. Using a firepit or even a coal bucket or kettle BBQ where the flames and materials are manageable is far better. This way, you can toast your marshmallows without fear of anything getting out of hand.
Next, there is the firework display. Domestic fireworks are available in most supermarkets and are often packaged in selection boxes with clear instructions. Aerial fireworks are often single ignition, so you can just set it up, light it once and go to the recommended safety distance with everyone else to watch the show.
However, you can also get ground-based fountain variants like Roman Candles, so the show stays in your garden. Just make sure everyone keeps a safe distance to avoid eye injuries.
The key here is to always have a responsible adult in control and keep everyone at the recommended safe distance and avoiding illegal fireworks. The RoSPA have a fireworks code to help you with your home display. But in summary, top tips to stay safe on bonfire night; wear gloves, stand well back, keep children away from the fire, store fireworks in metal box, and avoid petrol or paraffin.
Things to do on bonfire night at home
If you’re thinking of hosting a garden bonfire night party, keep all this in mind, but don’t forget to have fun either! Here are some tips to make your party affordable and fun for all:
Classic party foods like sausage rolls, vegetable sticks and crisps are always a safe option when you’re having a party, but why not make it a bit more fireworksy? If you’re inviting guests, and they’re willing to bring along some tasties, why not suggest marshmallows for toasting, cupcakes with popping candy icing, chocolate and toffee apples or fudge?
For more savoury options, you could set up a slow cooker pulled pork station where everyone can make their own burgers or get some hotdogs going. Don’t forget to ask about any dietary requirements, too – everyone should be leaving with full bellies.
We all know how important outdoor play is for child development, and Bonfire Night presents the ideal autumnal opportunity. So, why not throw together a few games for your party?
For example, apple bobbing is more of an American game, but it’s fun, easy and cheap to put together. Ring Doughnuts On A String is another easy one – attach the string through the doughnut hole, and the first person to release theirs without using their hands, wins.
Of course, the obvious one is sparklers. These quick, harmless handheld fireworks are safe for most children aged five and up, and they don’t cost a lot. They’re great fun on their own, but why not ask everyone to be a bit creative and competitive?
Most mobile phones have a pro picture function where you can change the shutter speed. This allows you to take long exposure pictures and means everyone can draw a picture in the air, and the photo will show it all – may the best picture win!
Top Tip: For those with kids under five, glow sticks work just as well for the picture game.
Make a Guy
In classic Bonfire Night events, there’s always a man made of straw or Guy that eventually ends up on the bonfire to banish bad ideas and schemes. You could recreate this at home, but instead of a straw Guy have your kids create their fear out of paper that they can throw onto the fire to banish their fear.
It could be a drawing of something simple like spiders or creepy like a monster under the bed. The other option is to use your leftover Halloween pumpkin (if you haven’t already)and make a Bonfire Dude to act as a kind of mascot for the party.
Keep it entertaining
Your party can go on as long as you like, but you’ve got to keep everyone entertained. So, make sure you have music playing and all your activities laid out. Consider making up a playlist of fire and firework-themed songs and throw in a few of the kid’s favourite songs that they can dance to.
Your bonfire night will be as good as you and your guests make it, just remember a few golden rules:
- Be safe and always follow the instructions
- Let your neighbours know what’s happening
- Keep your pets inside and away from the noise
- Accept the help offered by your guests
Having Bonfire Night at home is a great way to have a good time with all your family and friends, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or messy. Just be open with your guests, be safe and have a lovely time.