How to host a camp-themed party: Fun food, drinks, decorations and games

Have s'more summer fun!
/ Source: TODAY
By JJ Keras

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Summer is the perfect time to catch some fresh air and enjoy your outdoor spaces. When entertaining kids this summer, consider a backyard camp party. Whether you have little ones that are too young for camp, older ones that prefer to sleep at home, or your budget simply doesn't allow for it, we have perfect ideas to get your family and friends to camp.

Décor

Turn your space into a campsite by including clever details, rustic items and woodsy decorations to create a camp-themed feel.

Table Linens

Think about your current outdoor space, or if heading to a local park would enhance the experience. I love red and black buffalo check for this theme. Inexpensive napkins and table runners will help set the scene.

Other materials that work well are burlap, camouflage, browns and greens as they imitate nature. If you have a picnic table, now is the perfect time to put it to use. If it is chipped or in bad shape, simply throw a paper tablecloth over it for a fresh appearance.

Flowers

Sunflowers are a casual, outdoor flower perfect for backyards that blend well with many colors. Simply pick up at your grocery store or pay a visit to your local florist then arrange your blooms in small vases and set them all around.

If you aren't able to pick up sunflowers, send campers into the yard to pick their own. As they return, have clear vases already filled with water. They will love looking at their treasures during the duration of the party.

Bug Spray Bar

Keep your guests comfortable by providing multiple choices for a bug free environment by creating a bug spray bar. Put out a variety of sprays, lotions, balms, and wipes to keep pests at bay.

To creatively display the options, place them on a wood tiered serving tray or wood blocks. This can also double as your centerpiece by placing sunflowers on the bottom or top tier. I like to use 2 or 3 along a picnic table (these trays are also great for serving food such as s'mores, hot dogs, hamburgers and chips).

Camping Vibes

Setting up tents visually adds to the theme of your party and immediately sets the mood.

Drinks

Keep drinks cold and your camping theme on point with a cooling canoe.

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For a creative way to display your beverages, we love this Aluminum Boat Cooler. It is a self-serve container that gives off the perfect camping vibe!

Food

Keep hungry campers fed with fun outdoor-friendly foods. Interactive food stations keep things fun and easy on the host.

Pigs in Sleeping Bags

Serve foods that go with your camping theme, like these pigs in sleeping bags. Also, an easy substitution for this recipe is to buy frozen pigs in a blanket at your grocery store.

Hot Dog Bar

Camping and hot dogs go hand in hand. Try taking your hot dog bar up a notch with fun toppings such as corn chips, pickles, queso, mac and cheese, bacon, pepperoni, popcorn and shoestring fries. Think about foods kids love! Additionally, when entertaining outside using disposable serving plates is not only practicable, but makes cleaning up a breeze! Paper boats work well for a hot dog bar and prevent your hot dogs from sliding.

Nacho Hot Dogs

Nacho Hot Dogs

Donatella Arpaia

Campy Snacks

Other foods to consider that have a camp theme are Cheetos (campfire flames), strawberries and blackberries (berry picking), teddy grahams and gummy bears (bears) and Hershey kisses and chocolate covered almonds (bear poop). These all look nice served on the wood trays mentioned above.

DIY Trail Mix Bar

Setting up a DIY trail mix bar is a nice touch so campers can pick the snack of their choice, and also easily caters to campers with dietary restrictions. It also plays nicely with the theme because trail hikes are a popular camp activity.

Include cashews, almonds, dried cranberries, chocolates, pretzels, cereals and sunflower seeds. Festive trail mix bags finish the theme and provide a portable snacking pouch.

Bear Paw Cupcakes

Another thematic treat for your campers is bear paw cupcakes. Make or buy cupcakes with vanilla frosting in a variety of sizes. Add three chocolate M&M's for the toes and one Oreo for the paw. Kids can enjoy making their own unique bear paws.

Snazzy S'mores

Instead of traditional s'mores, it's fun to surprise guests with something new. We found these Banana Boat S'mores you can make on the grill or in your oven.

Bacon S'mores

Bacon S'mores

Dan Whalen

Arts and Crafts

A typical day at camp includes an arts and crafts period. This is easy to set-up outside and gives campers a variety of crafts to choose from to spark their creativity.

DIY Binoculars

Save those toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls (just cut in half) to create your DIY binoculars. My kids went to the craft store and picked out their favorite pattern paper. They cut out the paper then glued it around the roll. After paper is glued on, glue rolls together and attach jute rope around bases and around campers' necks. Then, send campers into nature to spot specific items.

Painted Rocks

A camp favorite! Send kids into the yard or park to collect unique and odd shaped rocks. Using a multi-surface paint, have campers paint their favorite design, sport, animal, etc. on the rock. Campers can take home as a keepsake, or place back in a specific spot and enjoy going back in the future to search for their homemade rock.

Paddle Necklaces

Purchase these mini paddles to create creative necklaces. For even more fun, provide paint for campers to paint their paddle the color of their choice.

Glow-in-the-Dark Mason Jars

If you choose to set up tents or have your party in the evening, consider adding DIY lighting with glow in the dark lanterns. Using a mason jar, paint the inside with glow-in-the-dark paint. Place around your tent or on walkways to help campers see. As dusk approaches, watch your creation come to life.

Personalized Flashlights

Buy a package of mini-flashlights and let campers personalize with stick-on foam letters. Flashlights are endless entertainment inside tents!

Games

What's a campout with games? You can create fun games with items you already have at home and in the garage.

Bean Bag Ladder Toss

Fun for all ages! Label each rung of a stepladder with points starting at five for the top rung all the way down to one for the bottom rung. Let campers try to get as many points as possible by throwing bean bags through the rungs.

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