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Party at the fire pit

Fall is a gorgeous time of year. The landscape is shimmering with shades of gold, rust and deep reds. So don't let autumn's cooler temps force you inside when you can stretch your backyard entertaining with a fire pit get-together. There's someth...

Fall is a gorgeous time of year. The landscape is shimmering with shades of gold, rust and deep reds.

So don't let autumn's cooler temps force you inside when you can stretch your backyard entertaining with a fire pit get-together.

There's something about sitting around a bonfire with friends and family-maybe for a casual evening meal after a football game or just to enjoy a mug of hot chocolate and snacks.

Make plans to build a crackling fire, craft your menu, assemble the fixings and invite people to congregate, relax, talk and enjoy the camaraderie that inevitably follows.

Get a fire pit

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If you're looking for a permanent fire pit, consider the many options available at home improvement and other outlets which offer a range of designs and materials at various price points.

You'll find round bowls, square or rectangular styles, either low-to-the-ground or raised versions. The style you choose may be best determined by the type of seating-or lack of seating-that surrounds it.

Some models are moveable, providing the flexibility that's especially attractive if the idea of relocating your fire pit on occasion is appealing.

Or, if the purchase of a fire pit represents too much of a commitment, go simple and rustic-live like a pioneer-and arrange some rough rocks in a circle. In the center, pile some cut logs atop a batch of twigs and crumpled paper and strike the match.

Rev up a slow-cooker cider

Hook up a slow-cooker early in the afternoon and pour in a gallon of apple cider. If your family and friends love the taste of apple with cinnamon, rev up the brew by dropping in a few cinnamon sticks.

Set out disposable, lidded, insulated coffee cups. They keep drinks warm, reduce spillage and help keep the bugs out. Plus, wrapping your hands around the cups will take the chill off a cool autumn evening.

Make me s'more

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Streamline your s'more production by packaging all the necessary ingredients into individual bags for your guests. Add a packet of wet towelettes to clean sticky hands. Twist close and affix a cute label, inscribed with "S'more Fun."

Set the bags in a shallow-rimmed basket for guests to pick up on arrival. It's an easy way to hand out the requisite plain chocolate bar, marshmallows and graham crackers.

After the contents are used, the bag doubles as a convenient spot to stash the trash-keeping a lid on litter.

Sit and be comfortable

Although logs as seating are rustic enough for a woodland experience, your guests probably will appreciate a high-back patio chair with armrests.

Side tables are an essential part of your setup since everyone needs a spot for their mugs of apple cider or hot chocolate and s'more ingredients to land.

Patio chairs and side tables are available for a reasonable price, again, at a variety of local stores.

Set the mood with lighting

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Strategically placed tiki torches can add a secondary source of heat, with the added benefit that they look nice and are super-sturdy. Plus, they keep the bugs away and light the area around the fire pit.

Strings of lights around the perimeter will go a long way toward creating an atmosphere that encourages friends to linger and enjoy the cozy atmosphere.

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at pknudson@gfherald.com or (701) 780-1107.
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