Every year, my husband and I excitedly watch the temperature drop from the 100s to the 60s. We emerge from our summer shelter to breathe in the crisp, clean air—free of the oppressive weight of humidity. We spend most of our time outside during fall—sometimes it’s a quick and easy hang on the porch with a beer in hand. Other times we throw a few logs in the firepit and get lost in the beauty of the flames and conversation.
While you need nothing more than a fire and friendship to enjoy time around the fire, why not take things up a level to create the ultimate bonfire experience?
Setting the Mood
Since you’ll likely be outside for some time, a comfortable seat is a must. I tend to favor wide seats with armrests. Bonus points if there’s a cupholder for my beer. An Adirondack chair is also a great option if you want to go deep into relaxation mode. And you can always have your guests bring their own lawn chairs in case you don’t have enough to go around.
Lighting is one of my favorite ways to set the mood. Even though we have the roaring fire as a huge light source, I enjoy using string lights, especially as the sun goes down.
The fire is liable to throw up some major heat, but just in case you or your guests aren’t feeling the flames, I suggest having blankets handy. Set up a blanket basket or station for your guests so they can reach for something warm if the night air becomes too chilly. Bonus tip: remind guests to dress in layers and wear clothes they don’t mind getting smoky.
And last, make sure you break out the portable speaker for some ambient music.
Planning Your Snack Attack
S’MORES! That’s all you really need to know. But really, in the fall, I keep s’mores supplies on deck for those spontaneous fire pit moments (or really any time I want a sweet treat). You can go beyond graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate, but I’m a woman who loves classic things, and for me, you really can’t improve on the original.
For something savory, consider roasting hot dogs around the fire or serve your favorite hearty chili in coffee mugs. Whatever direction you decide to go in, set up a table with everything you guests will need, including sticks, compostable cutlery, and napkins. Also, add a bag for trash.
Of course, your guests will need something to wash down all that gooey goodness. A cooler filled with North Sky is the perfect pairing. This silky Belgian-inspired stout balances light notes of fruit and sweetness with roasty malt. It combines lightness and darkness into a super-sippable stout that was brewed to be enjoyed around a crackling campfire.
Building a Fire
You can’t have a bonfire without a decent fire. My husband Dominick, who loves spending his weekends cooking up delicious meals from his smoker, knows how to build a fire. Dominick recommends starting small with a mix of wood and kindling. If you’ve watched any dad build a fire, you probably already know that air circulation is key, so make sure the logs are evenly spaced to catch that draft. He also likes to use an all-natural fire starter roll to kick things off. Once the fire starts, make sure to feed it regularly for long-lasting flames. Once the party winds down, extinguish the fire properly.
Bonfires are a great way to unplug from the world and connect with nature and friends. I hope you find yourself around a bonfire or two this fall, with a s’more in one hand and a North Sky in the other.