Halloween Party Ideas: A Grown-Up Campfire

Are you afraid of the dark? Invite your friends for a cozy get-together, just in time for Halloween


Halloween isn’t just for kids. With a few tricks, you can give your grown-up friends a treat on this fun and frightful day! Just create a makeshift campfire in your own backyard and tell scary stories until the witching hour.

Styling by Issa Villar. Photographed by Miguel Nacianceno.

Read the original article ("Are You Afraid of the Dark?”) in the October 2009 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App ( now! Log on to for more details.  

Backyard Bonfire

Turn your backyard or lanai into a campsite for grownups, where you can tell scary stories under the light of the moon.

Create a makeshift fire pit.

An actual fire pit would require you to dig a hole in the ground and surround it with bricks. You could opt to lay a sheet of metal where you plan to build your fire, and stack bricks in a circle with pieces overlapping each other. If you have an existing grill, use the grill grate to determine the size of your fire pit; stack bricks three to five layers high, build a fire inside, then place grill grate on top. An easier option? Use a planter and twigs. (See sidebar for step-by-step instructions and fire safety reminders.) Or simply get a barbecue grill and fill it with coals, to achieve the same effect. Cover it with a spark screen and make sure that the flames are a safe distance away from anything that can catch fire, like fabric. The bonus: You could roast marshmallows over the grill!

Make it comfy.

Telling stories around a campfire for hours sounds like fun—but can you imagine how sore you would be after all that time sitting on rocky ground? The beauty of a backyard setup is that you could make your storytelling area nice and comfy. Surround your campfire with reclining chairs and a cushioned daybed with fluffy pillows.

Add a Halloween vibe!

Going Halloween doesn’t mean hanging up paper bats and faux cobwebs. Give a nod to this fun day by using touches of orange, a traditional Halloween color, in a stylish way: in table cloths, table runners, and plates.

Prepare the food.

Campfire treats should be comfort food, not girl scout-y canned food! Bring chicken and veggie skewers that can easily be grilled.

The Invitations

Send out incense sticks labeled with the party details. The heady scent can get them ready for a night of supernatural stories! 

Be creative with the food and drinks!

Nippy October air and scary stories giving your guests the shivers? Warm them up with some thick and hearty soup. You may prepare the classic Tomato Soup or Butternut Squash Soup.

Add something sweet

Pre-chilled, fresh fruit salad is a light refreshing cap.

Don't forget the party favors.

Send guests home with orange candles and cute candleholders they can use year-round. For a Halloween-inspired aroma, get pumpkin pie-scented candles. 

No pests allowed.

Keep mosquitoes and other pesky insects at bay by discreetly setting up bug repellents like citronella burners around your bonfire area.

Build a safe fire in your backyard.

Use a large planter or "kawa" for the fire--better for the floor of your patio; cleaner look *Gather wood for the fire and place nearby. Three types are needed:

  • Tinder - small twigs, dry leaves or grass...these should burn immediately with a lighted match
  • Kindling - small twigs that are 1" (or less) thick
  • Fuel - larger wood that keeps the fire going
  1. Start with a couple handfuls of tinder loosely piled. Light a match and ignite tinder. Slowly add more tinder. You may have to blow softly into the fire to get the fire going.
  2. Once the tinder is burning steadily, add small pieces of kindling. Make sure to allow space for air. Add more kindling, gradually increasing the size of the kindling.
  3. Add the fuel one piece at a time: lay pieces in a crisscross pattern for a longlasting fire.

Some fire safety reminders:

  1. Have a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher nearby.
  2. Never build a fire near anything flammable. Be sure chairs and benches are at a safe distance from the fire, at least two feet away.
  3. Never use flammable fluids to start a fire.
  4. Build an appropriate-sized—never build bigger than you need.
  5. Make sure fire is completely extinguished when you are finished: Scatter ashes and sprinkle with water then stir with a stick. Drench larger wood with water. Repeat until everything is cold.
  6. Have a first-aid kit ready in case of small accidents. --- Issa Villar

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