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.
- 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)
- Relights no matter how hard the birthday star huffs and puffs, the making them a festive means for topping cakes, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and more
- The set include white, yellow, and blue candles
- Candles burn 2-4 min, to extinguish, put candle in water
- ou’re going to love the look on their face when they try and blow these out but the candles keep relighting and sparking back to life
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.
- READY, SET, BAKE: Everyone loves a good, warm muffin in the morning, and it's never been easier than with this 12-cup non-stick muffin pan. This pan can also be used to make a dozen cupcakes to brighten someone's day
- BAKEWARE FOR EVERY DAY AND EVERY OCCASION: The muffin pan and cupcake pan from Wilton can bake batches of muffins or cupcakes in this 12-cup pan. Made of steel; reinforced non-stick coating for easy release and quick cleanup
- NON- STICK: No matter what you're making, the durable non-stick and scratch-resistant coating on our muffin and cupcake pans allows your food to slide or pop out easily, making cleanup almost effortless
- CARE INSTRUCTIONS: The Wilton muffin pan & cupcake pan is dishwasher safe; however for best results, wash in warm, soapy water before first and after each use
- INCLUDES: 1 muffin and cupcake pan, dimensions: 10.5 x 15 in. (26.6 x 38.1 cm); Cavity size: 2 in. dia. x 1.25 in. (5 cm diam x 3.2 cm). Limited 10-year warranty
- Set of 2 muffin pans with 12 cups each (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 428 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.
- The Standard Swim Noodles measure approximately 55" long and 2.5" in diameter. Noodle lengths are approximate and may fluctuate up to 2 inches due to manufacturing process.
- You'll get a variety of bright, fun colors: Red, Blue, Green, Purple, and Yellow.
- These noodles are made with solid and long-lasting, buoyant foam.
- Each box is sold with 35 noodles included.
- Noodles are recommended for children ages 5 and up. Colors may vary.
- 8 pack Oodles of Noodles Red sticks, approx. 35 inches Long
- Closed Cell Red Stick is a round, flexible, closed cell polyethylene foam aid. Can be used for many projects or applications. Great for Crafts.
- Has many uses around the house and outside. Put them end to end and you have a social distance aid tool when two or more people use them. Great for teaching.
- All sizes are approximate, Made in North America, Certified ASTM F963-17 to Age 5+, Color in image may differ slightly from how you see it on your device screen, ships in clear vented package as listed for easy identification.
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.
- Squared Base - Less Spills
- More Grip - Less Slip
- Great for All Cold Beverages
- Easily Recyclable - Light weight
- Perfect for Parties or Office Use
- A MUST-HAVE PARTY STAPLE FOR ANY OCCASION: Get ready to host any casual dinner, family gathering or kid’s party with these amazing disposable cups that can serve up to 240 people with the drink of their choice. Thanks to their super versatile 12oz size, our plastic party cups are great for any cold beverage, juices, homemade lemonade, wine and even your favorite cocktails!
- SAFE BPA-FREE QUALITY YOU CAN TRUST: Made of excellent quality BPA-Free materials, you may use these everyday plastic glasses with utter peace of mind – no nasty chemicals and toxins here. Completely safe to use even by the youngest toddler, the Comfy Package single-use drinking cups make a great choice for the whole family!
- STRONG & STURDY NON-SLIP WALLS FOR HASSLE-FREE USE: Thoroughly designed to be more sturdy, strong and durable than your average single-use cups, our plastic disposable drinkware can hold a generous amount of drinks without falling over. Plus, the textured walls of the cups offer a non-slip grip to prevent accidental spills!
- VALUE PACK OF 240 CUPS FOR EVERYDAY USE & BEYOND: With 240 colored drinking cups per pack, you will have enough party supplies for any small gathering or bigger event. And the best part? They make the after-party cleaning a breeze – not a ton of glasses to wash. Perfect for weddings, barbeque gatherings, picnics, office parties, camping and even daily use at home!
- RED COLOR TO MATCH ANY OCCASION: Our red pack of disposable glasses will add a touch of color to any table or party while every boy and girl is sure to love them. And the best part? You may even use them to serve your snacks, for decoration or any other DIY idea!
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.