Craving a bit of the great outdoors, but not prepared to commit to a full-on camping trip? Dip your toes in slowly and pitch a tent in your backyard for a night—or a whole weekend—for an easy way to get some fresh air and sleeping-under-the-stars time. These tips and recipes ensure backyard camping success--and best of all, the kitchen and bathroom are just steps away!
Build Backyard Tents
The fun thing about being in the backyard is that while you can use a normal camping tent, you don't really need quite as much protection from the elements. (After all, if it rains, everyone's making a bee-line for their beds, right?) So, why not have a little fun with it and make some DIY tents? Check out these homemade DIY directions from Hoosier Homemade for a simple canvas A-frame type shelter. Liz from Hoosier Homemade says it's inexpensive and took less than an hour to complete.
And if you'd like to get a little more creative, check out how lifestyle blogger Kelli Murray painted these tent covers.
You could even hang a king-size sheet over a clothesline and secure the ends using stakes—done! A few more tips:
- Sleep one or two beneath each tent, depending on how big you make them, then arrange them fanned out in a sunburst-like circle. Sleep with heads in toward each other for optimal ghost story-telling, obviously.
- Lay tarps—or inflated pool floaters or yoga mats for more cushion—under sleeping bags for padding, and to keep them dry.
- Since you have access to outlets, string tents up with some white twinkle lights!
Speaking of Lighting...
Keep the fun going even after the sun disappears with these ideas for making sure the party stays well-lit.
- Put small candles in mason jars and set them on a nearby table (keep them a safe distance from the tents). Remember to get extra long matches that reach all the way in. Use Battery-operated candles to eliminate any concerns of fire.
- String LED lights or white Christmas lights up in the trees and/or around a deck or fence. Use a remote control device to turn lights on and off so you don't have to leave the cozy confine of your tent.
- Resurrect some old lamps from the garage and get a few extension cords to bring just a little of the inside, out. (It'll be charming, we promise!)
Set Up for Fun and Games
Since you have the whole "campsite" to yourself, you may as well make the most of it!
- Turn your lawn into a Twister board with contractor's marking spray paint that washes off. Check out the tutorial from One Good Thing by Jillee.
- Cornhole, anyone? If you put it out, they will come.
- Create an obstacle course for young kids out of whatever you have lying around: hop scotch through watering hose rings, zig-zag around basketballs and volleyballs, tag the fence before crossing the finish line...get creative!
- For after dark, get glow sticks that can be turned into rings and do a ring toss.
Grill up Recipes for Camping Grub
Whether you want to keep it traditional or do something with a bit of a twist, we have some tasty camping food ideas for both. If you have a fire pit, by all means make good use of it, but most of these recipes can be cooked on your backyard grill.