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As the weather grows colder, camping outdoors becomes less appealing, even if you can manage to build a fire. By the time you plan the trip, layer up in warm clothes and pack your thermal sleeping bag, you might be facing snow, sleet and ice. Stay inside and keep cozy instead by hosting an indoor camping party instead!
You and your friends can still enjoy all your favorite camp foods and activities without the icy winds. Plus, you’ll have electricity, running water and other amenities that you wouldn’t typically have on a camping trip.
Use the tips below to plan your party. With a little effort and ingenuity, you and your guests will forget you’re even inside.
Choose a Theme
Camping is practically a theme in and of itself. However, if you want to go the extra mile and add an extra layer of fun, you’ll choose another, more specific theme. For example, you might host a tiki-themed camping party and imagine you’re spending the night on a beach somewhere. Glow-in-the-dark, murder-mystery, onesie and patriotic themes are also popular ideas that’ll make for a one-of-kind party and plenty of great memories.
Set Up Camp
Just because you’re camping inside doesn’t mean you can’t use tents. Ask your friends to bring their own or set up one giant tent for everyone to chill in. Make sure there’s ample seating for guests by placing pillows, cushions and stools throughout the living room. Bonus points if you can figure out how to string up a hammock inside! Create a cozy atmosphere with string lights or battery-operated lanterns and provide at least a few blankets so campers can bundle up and snuggle in.
Build a Fire
Unless you want to burn the house down, building a giant bonfire is out of the question. Luckily, there are other ways to bring warmth and light to your indoor camping party. Build a small fire in your fireplace or create a rustic DIY faux fireplace to really impress your guests. Craft some paper flames out of tissue paper and place a small fan and lights underneath to create a fiery illusion. Tea lights, candles and flame-effect light bulbs will also work in a pinch.
Create a Camp-Inspired Menu
Hot dogs and s’mores are quintessential camping foods, but there are plenty of other delicious options available, too. Create a camp-inspired menu that includes all the classics plus a few new recipes like pizza mountain pies and turkey sloppy joes. You can even include a breakfast menu for guests that happen to spend the night. Serve classic flapjacks or fruit kabobs and scrambled egg bread to really up the ante.
Tell Spooky Stories
Camping parties are the perfect time to whip out your most ghoulish ghost stories and spook your friends with haunting tales of death and misfortune. You can even host the party on Halloween Eve to really boost the scare factor. Ask everyone to bring a story to share or come up with a few yourself. Personal accounts are always encouraged and often make for the best stories, anyway, so don’t hesitate to speak up.
Make It a Movie Night
If telling stories isn’t your thing, turn your camping party into a movie night. Gather in the living room to watch a flick on the big screen or set up a projector to create a home theater. Watch a classic summer camp movie like Camp, Wet Hot American Summer or Ernest Goes to Camp to relive your glory days. The Parent Trap, Dumb and Dumber and Meatballs also feature summer camp subplots that are almost as fun as summer camp itself.
Plan Crafts or Games
What games did you and your family play when you went camping? Maybe you still remember some of the crafts you made at summer camp. Bring these fun memories back to life with boondoggles, card games, origami and other similar activities. Adult-friendly crafts like basket weaving and bracelet-making will keep your guests entertained and introduce them to new hobbies. Meanwhile, adult party games like That’s What She Said, Cards Against Humanity and Never Have I Ever will keep things interesting and leave everyone laughing.
Sleep Under the Stars
Sleeping under the stars is a highlight for many avid campers, but how will you see the night sky if you’re setting up camp indoors? Grab a pack of those glow-in-the-dark self-adhesive stars from your childhood and put them all over the ceiling or the inside of your tent. When everyone goes to sleep, they’ll be pleasantly surprised. You can also go the high-tech route with a starry night projector that displays the constellations on your walls and ceiling.
Having a plan for the evening is always helpful, regardless of what kind of party you’re throwing. However, it’s important to stay flexible and leave room for spontaneity. Build in an element of surprise by asking guests to bring games, food and drinks. Give them the option to spend the night, especially if you’re making spiked hot cocoa. That way they’ll stay safe and have even more time to make memories and enjoy one another’s company.