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)
- 🎂 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.
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 or cupcakes in this 12-cup pan
- Made of steel; non-stick surface for easy release and quick cleanup
- 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
- Dishwasher safe; however for best results, wash in warm, soapy water before first and after each use
- MADE TO LAST MUFFIN PANS: 12-cup muffin pans boast heavy-duty bakeware construction to meet the demands of the busiest kitchens
- EVEN HEAT BAKEWARE: These 12-cup muffin pans reliably resist warping and heat evenly to brown beautifully and help reduce hot spots that can burn baked goods
- PERFECT RELEASE: Nonstick inside and out delivers great food release of cupcakes and muffins with quick cleanup
- VERSATILE BAKEWARE: Muffin pans are oven safe to 450 degrees F
- FARBERWARE QUALITY: These muffin pans and every other piece of Farberware(r) Bakeware dependably uphold a distinguished tradition of reliability, value and performance
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 5-pack of big pool noodles are bright blue (1), red (1), lime green (2), and yellow (1). These bright colors combined with the large noodles make them impossible to miss.
- MORE THAN JUST SWIMMING - These foam noodles can be used for DIY projects or arts & crafts. The foam tubes work excellent for padding, safety guards, or as creative kids toys. 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.
- POOL NOODLE FLOAT: The swim noodle float is the perfect multi use addition to any pool, use the noodle as a toy, extra floatation, or swim training aid
- VIBRANT COLORS: The 35 noodles comes in an assortment of colors, including red, blue, green, purple, and yellow.
- DIMENSIONS: Each noodle is 55" long (about 4.5 feet) with 2 3/8" diameter.
- RECOMMENDED AGES: for ages 5 and up
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
- Crack resistant high-quality materials to avoid spills or messes
- Each package includes 100 premium 16-ounce red plastic party cups
- Durable, high-quality single-use cups are perfect for any occasion
- Doesn't absorb liquid and resists cracking
- Red Party Cups let you enjoy the party instead of doing dishes
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.