For many of us, summer camping is an experience we look forward to all year. We make our reservations as soon as possible. As the season approaches, we make sure our gear is in working order. We clean out the camper. We stock the cooler. Then finally, we hit the road.
But sometimes, that’s not possible. If there are things keeping you home this summer (a tight budget, recent injury, or social distancing rules), you don’t have to give up camping. Instead, try a new location: your own yard. We recently shared our ultimate beginner’s guide to backyard camping to help you get started. Now it’s time to share 19 essential backyard camping ideas and hacks that’ll turn you into a backyard camping pro. Plus, whatever tricks you learn this summer can be used on your next away-from-home camping adventure.
1. Fire-Free S’mores
Do you live in a city where fires aren’t allowed? Or are you simply hoping to avoid extra work? Either way, you can still enjoy a classic camping dessert. To make fire-free s’mores, simply spread marshmallow fluff and chocolate spread (try them with Nutella!) between two graham crackers. And since you’re probably near a freezer, you can take the extra step of adding ice cream!
2. Bungee Paper Towel Holder
Even when you’re camping at home, it’s important to have paper towels on hand for quick clean-ups. But the last thing you want is dirty (or grassy) paper towels. Make a simple paper towel holder by stringing a bungee cord through the center of a paper towel roll. Hook each end of the bungee cord from deck rails or on a tree branch.
3. Instant Lantern
To make a camping lantern that will provide a nice cozy glow, all you need is a one gallon jug of water and a headlamp. Strap the headlamp onto the water jug with the light turned on and facing in. Depending on the color of the bottle, this trick could also work with a plastic Nalgene bottle full of water.
4. DIY Fire Starters
Start a fire fast with homemade fire starters. We’ve got 10 easy DIY ideas to try.
5. Festive Fire Starters
If you have any trick birthday candles from past celebrations (you know, the type that won’t go out?), use them for your campfire. The candles make good fire starters that will actually stay lit as the kindling catches fire.
- 🎂 CREATES FUN MEMORIES - Make your children's birthday party more memorable with fun trick candles. Watch and capture their precious reactions as they try to blow-out the relighting candles.
- 🎂 FOR BOYS & GIRLS - Our fun birthday cake candles come in 4 assorted colors. Blue for boys, pink for girls, yellow and white for everyone. Mix and match for additional creative colorful decoration.
- 🎂 VALUE FOR MONEY - Each pack comes with a total of 24 beautiful and funny relighting candles--more than enough for a year's worth of parties. Just one pack saves you trips to the supplies store.
- 🎂 NOT JUST FOR BIRTHDAYS - Our sparkly relighting candles can be used for any celebration. Great for wedding, outdoor dinner parties, and baby showers. Use as cakes or cupcake decoration.
- 🎂 SAFE FOR CAKE USE - Made from non-toxic wax, you can be assured that our candles are perfect for any themed and regular occasion. Simply remove wax drips from cakes and it's still edible.
- Product Type is import
- This is easy to use
- This is manufactured in China
- Package dimensions : 11.6 inches (H) x 21.8 inches (L) x 12.3 inches (W)
6. Natural Bug Repellent
For a natural way to cut down on mosquitoes, throw some bundles of fresh sage, mint, or lavender on your fire.
7. Quick Meal Caddy
Reuse a cardboard six-pack container for a utensil caddy and cut down on your trips to the kitchen. Fill each compartment with napkins, forks, spoons, cups, and condiments like salt, pepper, and ketchup packs. Or, you can also use the container as a snack caddy and fill the compartments with granola bars, fruit snacks, and packages of trail mix.
8. Mini DIY Fire Pit
Don’t have room for a full-sized campfire but still want to roast some s’mores? Make your own mini fire pit from a terracotta pot. First, set a terracotta pot on a level fire-safe space on the ground such as a concrete patio or sandy spot in the yard. Line the pot with heavy-duty aluminum foil and fill it with charcoal. (The kind you’d use for a charcoal grill.) Then light the coals and let them burn for a bit until they turn white. Then break out the roasting stick and made some s’mores.
9. Party Lights
Make colorful lanterns by placing glow sticks inside mason jars.
10. Bug-free Beverages
To keep bees or other bugs from getting inside canned or bottled drinks, there’s an easy solution. Poke a hole in the center of a paper muffin liner using a straw. Then place the straw in your drink, letting the muffin liner cover the top.
11. Easy Drink Holder
Use a muffin tin as a drink holder. It’s easy to pass around and will prevent drinks from getting knocked over.
- Bake batches of muffins, cupcakes and bite-size sweets in this 12-cup baking pan
- Versatile pan is essential to your collection of baking supplies
- Durable steel pan promotes even-heating and resists warping
- Non-stick surface for easy release and quick cleanup
- Pan dimensions: 10.5 x 15 inch (26.6 x 38.1 cm); Cavity size: 2 inch dia. x 1.25 inch (5 cm dia x 3.2 cm)
- Set of 2 muffin pans, each with 12 cups (24 cups total)—ideal for baking muffins, cupcakes, and more
- Heavy-weight steel construction provides durability and fast, even heating for uniform browning.
- Nonstick coating helps ensure effortless food release; oven-safe to 500 degrees F.
- Hand washing recommended; fits Amazon Basics silicone baking cups (not included)
- Part of the Amazon Basics nonstick bakeware collection
12. Gear Tote
Sleds aren’t only for snow. They’ll also slide over grass. Load up a plastic sled with your camping gear and supplies, then drag it to the place in your yard where you plan to set up camp.
13. Instant Camp Beds
If you don’t have a sleeping mat or air mattress, try using a pool lounger for a comfy bed. Bring as many as you need inside your tent, then top with sleeping bags or blankets.
14. Fire in a Flash
Instead of using fire starters, another easy way to get a campfire going is to use some Doritos! (Fritos and other corn chips also work.) Place the chips in your fire pit and put some very small pieces of kindling on top. Then light the chips. They should light quickly and will help get the fire going.
15. Avoid Falls
Sooner or later, someone is going to trip over the tent’s guy lines. (And it’ll probably happen when it’s dark!) Make them easy to see with pool noodles. Cut a 1-foot section of a foam pool noodle and then make a vertical slit down the side. Attach the pool noodle to the guy line where it’s connected to the ground. Repeat for the tent’s other guy lines.
- BRIGHT COLORED - This pack 5-pack assortment of big pool noodles are bright blue, red, lime green or yellow. These bright colors combined with the large noodles make them impossible to miss. Colors are subject to availability and may vary slightly from the images shown.
- MORE THAN JUST SWIMMING - These foam noodles can be used for DIY projects or arts & crafts. The foam tubes work excellent for padding, edge cushion, or as creative kids accessory. Use your imagination to think of even more uses.
- DURABLE & STRONG - These premium pool noodles provide excellent flotation for endless use whether you're in the pool or the lake. The soft, but firm foam allows for last use from even the most intense pool sword fights.
- LARGE SIZED NOODLES - 52 inches in length, approx. 2-1/4 to 2-1/2-inch diameter with approx 3/4-inch hollow core. Due to the manufacturing process the actual length varies (+/- 1"). All Fix Find pool noodles are proudly made in the USA.
- RECREATIONAL USE ONLY - These jumbo pool noodles are not a lifesaving device. These pool noodles are not meant as a flotation device for kids or adults.
- Extra-large swimming pool noodle for support and more flotation, pool noodle can support up to 250 pounds, 5.5-inch-wide by 46 inches long. It is a perfect addition to your pool parties and weekend getaways
- Thick swimming pool noodle with ribbed texture, soft luxurious foam for extra grip and non-slip makes floating comfortable and easy plus conforms to the body. A slip-proof textured floating foam with triple-dip vinyl coating
- UV Resistant - Resistant to UV so protected against the sun, salt water, and pool chemicals
- Heavy-Duty Performance - The fun pool float has heavy duty vinyl-coated for extra durability. Robust triple-dip vinyl on these swimming noodles ensures long lasting color.
- Fun Pool Noodle - The fun pool float is great for kids and adults, in the pool, river or lake or for exercise
16. Solo Cup Speaker
One of our favorite musical backyard camping ideas is simply placing a smartphone inside a clean (empty!) Solo cup for an instant speaker.
- 240 plastic party cups in vibrant red
- Each cup holds 16 ounces of your favorite cold beverage
- Stacked together and wrapped in individual sleeves for easy handling
- Ideal for parties, as well as home or food-service use
- Disposable—no cleanup necessary
- Squared Base - Less Spills
- More Grip - Less Slip
- Great for All Cold Beverages
- Easily Recyclable - Light weight
- Perfect for Parties or Office Use
17. Simplify Snacks
Make snacks ahead of time so you’ll spend less time prepping food for hungry kids and more time just enjoying the outdoors together. Try our make-ahead snack recipes or our allergy-friendly snack recipes.
18. Save Sticky Marshmallows
Have you ever prepped s’mores ingredients, only to find that the marshmallows have all stuck together inside the bag? There’s an easy solution! Pour at least 1 teaspoon of cornstarch into the bag of marshmallows. Then close the bag and shake it. The cornstarch should help absorb extra moisture and help separate the marshmallows.
19. Supply Organizer
Keeping your camping supplies organized outside will help cut down on trips back and forth to the house. Hang an over-the-door shoe organizer from a tree branch or deck rail. Then fill it with the items you’ll need throughout the campout such as flashlights, sunscreen, bug spray, and first-aid supplies.