A brisk, winter evening calls for a celebration. Okay, maybe that’s just an excuse for a party, but you need something to keep you going, right? The first few months of the year can be rather bleak, now that the holidays are over and the weather is quite dreary. Combat those seasonal blues by gathering friends and family around the backyard fire pit.
- Don’t have a fire pit? Follow these directions on how to make one out of concrete blocks. You can also buy a ready-made model like the one featured below.
- To make sure your guests are nice and toasty by the fire, set out a basket of blankets, mittens, scarves and hats. Partygoers will be thankful for the extra layers, especially if the wind starts to pick up or snowflakes fall.
- Have plenty of folding chairs on hand to circle the fire, or simply use blanket-topped hay bales for seating, which will add a rustic charm to your affair.
- Light the way with luminaries — paper bags or glass jars with candles inside. For added ambiance, hang mini white lights or campfire lanterns from the trees.
- Dress up the table with a plaid tablecloth and a centerpiece made from branches and pine cones. Spray paint them white for a snow-dusted look. Pine sprigs and cranberries clustered in glass cylinders will also add to the natural vibe.
- Serve hot chocolate, apple cider or hot buttered rum in enamel mugs, which are practically a must at any campfire. Serve drinks hot by storing them in a thermos.
- Set up a coffee station for your guests, complete with sugar and cream.
- Serve up some warm chili for famished guests. For brownie points, cook it in an iron kettle over the fire. And don’t forget a station for all the fixins!
- Crowds always clamor for fondue. A pot of warm cheese or chocolate seems to warm body and soul.
- What would a campfire be without s’mores? Toast your marshmallows on a stick, or for the perfect skewer, try a Bar-B-Que fork.
- If you live in a snowy region of the country, keep your soda cold by simply popping the bottles into a drift. Just have plenty of koozies on hand.
- If you’re lucky enough to have snow, plan fun activities such as sledding and snow tubing. You can even build your own ice skating rink and work up an appetite.
- To make sure the fire doesn’t burn out, keep plenty of cut wood on hand.
- Keep your fire small. There’s no need for a bonfire.
- Your fire pit should be at least 10 feet away from any structure.
- Don’t put a fire pit underneath trees or your roofline.
- Avoid starting a fire in windy conditions that can easily blow embers.
- Clean up leaves and other flammables around the pit.
- Have a garden hose or fire extinguisher nearby.
- Don’t try to start a fire with gasoline or lighter fluid.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- Stay three feet away from the heat.
- To extinguish a fire, spread out the ashes, let the coals cool and gently pour water over them. Make sure they’re extinguished before going inside.
- If flames escape the pit, call 911.
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