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Summer at Home: Throw a Backyard S’mores Party!

Summer at Home: Throw a Backyard S’mores Party!

Like many of you, my summer plans changed drastically this year. With camping trips cancelled, a family vacation postponed, and many parks still closed in my state, I will be spending a lot more time this summer at home with my five little girls.

I have always tried to make the best of every situation, so I am looking at this as a fantastic opportunity to do some fun things at home—like have a backyard s’mores party! It’s also a good excuse to finally make my backyard as magical as possible so we can have pizza nights and a s’mores party on the fly.

SETTING UP THE BACKYARD

Because I plan on doing this all summer long, I wanted materials that I could use over and over again. For the backyard table, I bought these cute red striped cloth napkins. The color is great so they can be used on other occasions like Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or even Christmas! I lined them across my table as a table runner and used the rest to wipe sticky fingers.

When setting out any sort of buffet or bar, I love to add height, so I snagged these galvanized cake stands to set things on.

Then I added some string lights for my patio, charged up my favorite Bluetooth speaker (it’s waterproof, so WIN!) and curated my summer playlist for a many magical nights under the stars.

HOW TO MIX UP YOUR S’MORE

Besides the obvious s’mores ingredients of graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows, think about new and unusual twists to add to your s’mores. Here are some ways to mix things up:

  • Try some chocolate graham crackers or cookies for the base.
  • Go for different flavors of chocolate like cookies ‘n’ cream, dark chocolate, or Reese’s (my personal fave).
  • Do you want some salty action added to the mix? Set out some potato chips or pretzels!
  • Get fruity with sliced strawberries or raspberries (these were a huge hit with my kids).
  • Top it all off with some Nutella or fruit spread, or a dash of cinnamon.

TIP: CREATE INDIVIDUAL S’MORES KITS FOR KIDS!

I store a lot of food in these glass containers, so I bought some to specifically put s’mores ingredients in. This way, I can just pull out the containers time and time again for our s’mores nights! For spreads like Nutella and jams, you can use these spice jars or ramekins.

One of my biggest hurdles with s’mores is the mess! With five kids, I had to figure out a way to contain things a little and stop the madness of everyone trying to do things all at once. I used these metal buckets to create individual s’mores kits and it worked like a charm. Everyone started off with a small portion of s’mores ingredients and could go grab more to put in their bucket when they were ready for round two. Plus, these buckets act as a little garbage pail for wrappers!

HOW TO TOAST S’MORES WITHOUT A FIRE PIT: TERRA COTTA S’MORE POTS!

My last hurdle was deciding how to toast our s’mores. If you have a backyard fire pit, then I’m totally jealous of you, and that’s the way you should go! I don’t have a fire pit, so I wanted a safe alternative for my kids.

A budget-friendly fix was to make little fires out of terra cotta pots! I used this tutorial and made three mini fires in a matter of seconds. Make sure you buy charcoal that lights instantly, or else you’ll need to add lighter fluid.

I wanted the fires separate from the food, so I put them on this little rolling cart that usually houses my kids’ school supplies. Since school is no longer in session, we’re using it for all things s’mores! It can stay outside, and I can set the charcoal briquettes in the bottom tier and keep other supplies in the middle tier.

Have fun and enjoy! Seriously, if there’s anything that being quarantined for three months has taught me, it’s to relish all the little moments!

MORE KID-FRIENDLY TREATS:

  • S’mores Cookies
  • S’mores Ice Cream
  • S’mores Pie
  • Brownie in a Mug
  • Chocolate-Covered Pretzels
  • No-Bake Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies

Of course, chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers are a must have. Start with the basics and experiment with different flavors: try strawberry marshmallows instead of plain fudge striped cookies or shortbread instead of graham crackers or salted caramel chocolate or peanut butter and chocolate in place of regular milk chocolate. The possibilities are endless!

For an outdoor heat source, use a fire pit or a campfire to roast your marshmallows.

Plus, you’ll need some extra items to make sure your s’mores party runs smoothly:

  • Skewers – You definitely need these to roast marshmallows! Try to have at least one skewer per guest.
  • Plates – This makes it easier for guests to remove cooked s’mores from the skewers and to create multiple s’mores at once
  • Napkins – Spoiler alert: s’mores are very gooey!
  • Serving Trays – Use trays to separate the ingredients, making it easier for guests to build their s’mores.

How to Make S'mores at Home

Whip up the classic recipe, or try Ree Drummond's twist!

You don't need a firepit to make s'mores at home. In fact, you don't even need to leave the house! You can still get that great combo of chocolate and ooey, gooey marshmallows that everyone loves, no camping required. You just need graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate bars, and a heat source. The key to making campfire-worthy s'mores if you're using the microwave or oven is simple. Don't add the top graham cracker half until the s'more is done cooking to ensure the marshmallow gets toasty and the chocolate gets melty.

If you're craving something a little more indulgent, try this Chocolate-Covered S'mores recipe from Ree. She first tried this tasty treat at a tiny store in Vail, Colorado, where the Drummond family goes skiing every year, and knew she had to re-create it at home. She sandwiches marshmallow creme between two graham crackers, covers it in melted chocolate, and freezes it. The best part about this recipe: It's endlessly adaptable. Any meltable chocolate you have on hand will do&mdashRee has even used a package of chocolate-almond bark.

Read on for answers to all the questions you've ever had about how to make classic s'mores at home, then try your hand at them! They make excellent Fourth of July desserts, or just an easy chocolate dessert recipe when you're short on time and your sweet tooth is calling. (Always pick up.)

How do I roast marshmallows indoors?

If you have a gas stovetop, you can roast marshmallows just as you would over a campfire&mdashas long as you're very careful! Put a marshmallow on a skewer and set the stovetop burner on low heat. Again, being super careful, slowly turn the marshmallow over the heat to your desired doneness.

How do I make s'mores in the oven?

To bake s'mores, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Split graham crackers into halves and place half of them on a baking sheet. Top each graham cracker half with chocolate and a marshmallow. Bake until marshmallows are puffed, three to five minutes. Top with the remaining graham cracker halves and press to flatten. If you like your marshmallows extra toasty, use the broiler following the same steps, and remove the sheet from the oven once you're satisfied with the color. Watch them closely, though, because they can burn quickly.

How do I make s'mores in the microwave?

Place chocolate and marshmallows on up to four graham cracker halves and put on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for 15 to 20 seconds, or until the marshmallows puff. Top with the remaining graham cracker halves.

What can I use instead of graham crackers?

No graham crackers? No problem! Use any kind of cracker or cookie, or if you're into the salty-sweet combo, sandwich your chocolate and marshmallows between two ruffled potato chips.


HOW TO MIX UP YOUR S’MORE

Besides the obvious s’mores ingredients of graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows, think about new and unusual twists to add to your s’mores. Here are some ways to mix things up:

  • Try some chocolate graham crackers or cookies for the base.
  • Go for different flavors of chocolate like cookies ‘n’ cream, dark chocolate, or Reese’s (my personal fave).
  • Do you want some salty action added to the mix? Set out some potato chips or pretzels!
  • Get fruity with sliced strawberries or raspberries (these were a huge hit with my kids).
  • Top it all off with some Nutella or fruit spread or a dash of cinnamon.


Use These Grilling Menus for Your Next Party

While gathering family and friends together for a delicious meal is always fun, entertaining a group can also come with a bit of pressure. What will you serve? What sides complement the main you're grilling? What dessert can you make ahead? To help, we've put together 10, four-course menus. From impressive steakhouse-inspired menus to laid-back burgers, grilled fish to tacos, and both vegetarian and vegan ideas, there's truly something for everyone.

Each menu features an appetizer, main course, side dish, and dessert. You'll also find that all of our menus highlight seasonal produce: fresh corn on the cob, sweet stone fruits, crisp greens, and succulent tomatoes are staples throughout. Take our Grilled Heritage Pork with Plums, Farro Verde, and Summer Herbs, for example&mdashplums hit their peak in August while you can stock up on herbs throughout the season. You can also highlight juicy berries atop this Lemon Olive-Oil Cake, or spotlight a lesser known berry, the gooseberry, in delicious crumbles. Use the menus here as a starting point feel free to get creative by mixing and matching recipes to create your own custom menu.

Since summer is all about eating and entertaining outdoors, a menu with at last one grilled dish makes the most sense. While you'll notice that not every course is grilled&mdashbut at least one per menu is!&mdashwe think you'll be surprised to find that we also encourage you to use the grill appetizers (such as our prosciutto-wrapped melon) and dessert, too. After all, who said grilling is just for the main course?

Ahead, our best grilling menus. Try one or make them all for a series of epically delicious parties. They're sure to please&mdashand they're easy, too!


Simple Summer Party Recipes

Hosting a summer get-together is a breeze when you’ve got the right recipes. From gazpachos and salads to grilled chicken and mixed drinks, these warm-weather dishes are sure to impress.

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Fresh Peach Salad

Fresh, juicy peaches are a highlight of summer. Make the fruit sing by pairing the peaches with arugula, gouda, candied pecans and a red wine vinaigrette.

Delicioso Adobo Grilled Chicken

Pink Lemonade Moscato Punch

Grown-ups, this one&rsquos for you. Combine homemade lemonade with sparkling wine and garnish with fresh mint, lemon slices and raspberry-filled ice cubes.

Lobster Rolls

Grilled Corn on Cob with Kimchi Mayo and Scallions

A kimchi mayonnaise and a sprinkle of scallions elevate Molly&rsquos grilled corn from a summertime staple to a flavorful side you&rsquoll want to cook again and again.

Gazpacho

Sticky Honey-Soy Chicken Wings

Couscous Salad with Tomatoes and Mint

Perfect Homemade Lemonade

Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad

Olive-and-Spice-Rubbed Leg of Lamb

Asparagus Crostini

Farro Salad with Tomatoes and Herbs

Spaghetti with Pinot Grigio and Seafood

Raspberry Lime Punch

Roasted Shrimp Salad

Zucchini Caprese Sliders

Make the most of summer produce with Ree&rsquos veggie sliders. Be sure to grill the zucchini for just a few minutes &mdash long enough to have grill marks, but not so long that they lose their firm texture.

Grilled Yellow Gazpacho

With a bounty of summer veggies and fresh basil for garnish, Trisha&rsquos beautiful gazpacho is like sunshine in a bowl. Pro tip: make the gazpacho the day before you plan to serve and let it chill overnight &mdash the soup will only improve as it sits!

Low Country Boil

Nothing says &ldquosummer&rdquo quite like a low country boil. For a classic country feel (and easy cleanup!), spread the meal over newspaper and have your guests help themselves.

Charred Sweetcorn Salsa

Combine charred corn with tomatoes, jalapeno and lime to make a simple salsa that&rsquos bursting with fresh flavor.

Roasted Salmon Tacos

Ina tops easy fish tacos with a crunchy fresh slaw and simplified guacamole. If you are hesitant about cooking fish, this is the recipe for you. No flipping required and the roasted salmon is broken up into chunks for the tacos, so you don&rsquot have to worry about getting it onto the spatula in one piece. Bring on (Fish) Taco Tuesday.

Jicama and Red Cabbage Slaw

Trisha&rsquos tangy slaw makes a beautiful accompaniment to grilled chicken or barbecued pork.

Nick's Favorite Grilled Orange Soda

Yes, you can use your grill to make drinks. Molly grills oranges until they&rsquore extra sweet and slightly smoky, then combines the juice with soda water and a pinch of turmeric.

Chicken Fajita Salad

Ree puts a fresh twist on the charcuterie board with her fun and festive salad, which is cooked from start to finish on the grill.

Pesto

Tuna Poke Bowls

This Hawaiian staple is trending all over the U.S. Buy the tuna for this recipe the day you want to make it for a super-fresh dish.

Macaroni Salad with Dill and Ham

Brown Butter Scallop Rolls

Make these savory scallop rolls the centerpiece of your next backyard feast. Allowing the butter to brown gives the scallops a juicy texture and subtle nutty flavor.

Herby Ranch Dressing

Fried Chicken Salad

You'll make it your business to have leftover fried chicken, just so you can make this creamy and tangy salad the next day.

Fried Rice Pineapple Boat

Sweet-and-salty fans, rejoice. This fried rice in a pineapple boat is the best of both worlds. And who can resist a pineapple boat?

Grilled Shrimp with Peach Cocktail Sauce

Looking for an elegant summer appetizer? Giada&rsquos easy grilled shrimp has you covered. Hold onto the extra peach sauce &mdash the sweet and spicy condiment makes an excellent addition to a cheese board or sandwich.

Warm Picnic Burritos ("Burritos De Machaca")

Blackberry-Bourbon Iced Tea

Grilled Lamb Meatball Flatbread

Summer entertaining is all about budgeting your prep time so you don't miss the party. Valerie starts out with store-bought naan as the base for her grilled flatbread to save some time, but goes the extra mile to make delicious Mediterranean-spiced lamb meatballs from scratch. The result is a fun new take on grilled pizza.

Grilled Lemonade Chicken

The secret ingredient in this sweet and tangy grilled chicken is a refreshing summer staple &mdash lemonade! Serve it with grilled corn or a classic potato salad for a simple seasonal dinner.


Hide the ingredients needed to make s’mores around the campsite. If you have only a handful of players, you can hide the box of graham crackers, a bag of marshmallows and some chocolate bars for them to seek and find. If you have several children, however, you may want to make up one or two individual s’mores packets for each to find (just put the ingredients in sealable sandwich-bags). Once they have gathered all of the items, they can get down to the business of making s’mores.​

To play this s’mores-making game, set up a bar with six variations of each s’mores component. For instance:

Graham cracker component:

  • Cinnamon Grahams
  • Chocolate Grahams
  • Fudge Stripe Cookies
  • Oreo Cookies
  • Ritz Crackers
  • Sugar Wafers

Chocolate Component:

  • Milk Chocolate
  • Crunch Bar
  • Peanut Butter Cup
  • Chocolate Covered Mints
  • Caramel-Filled Chocolate
  • White Chocolate

Marshmallow Component

Label each ingredient from each category with a number from one to six. Before making their s’mores, players roll the dice three times (once for each category). They must then make their s’mores using the ingredients that match the numbers they rolled.


How to Roast Marshmallows for S’mores

1. Choose a stick or skewer that is long enough to keep your hands away from the fire and that has a wooden handle so that it will not conduct enough heat to burn your hand. You could use an actual stick, as long as it is sturdy and clean, or you can use skewers specifically designed for roasting marshmallows or hotdogs over outdoor fires.

2. Place your marshmallow firmly on the stick. Try to place the stick or skewer through the center of the marshmallow to limit the risk of losing your marshmallow into the fire.

3. Flames may be more exciting, but embers will get the job done and will do it better. If your outdoor fireplace has been burning throughout your dinner party, hopefully it will have burned down enough to have areas of glowing embers when it is time for dessert. Hold your marshmallow several inches over the embers and rotate it often for a perfectly roasted treat.

If you have a gas fire pit or outdoor fireplace where flames are your only option, try to avoid direct contact with the flames.

4. Before popping your marshmallow in your mouth, make sure it has cooled enough to avoid a painful burn. If you are using metal skewers, you will also need to be careful when removing your marshmallows, since metal skewers stay hot after they are removed from the fire.


Fun for kids and adults a s’mores charcuterie board is a creative idea for any backyard bash. My kids are obsessed with this treat, and I love coming up with new flavor combinations!

Summer Backyard Party Ideas

Charcuterie and cheese boards are popular ideas for any party! S’mores dessert boards are so fun for a summer night and backyard parties. Both kids and adults are fascinated by these fun creations. They make the perfect party centerpiece too!

How many people does this serve?

This will make twelve s’mores total, which is perfect for a crowd. Adding more or less ingredients will adjust the total number of s’mores made.

Ingredients for a S’mores Board

  • graham crackers
  • strawberries
  • bananas
  • marshmallows
  • white chocolate bar
  • Reese’s cups
  • Peppermint Patties
  • Cookies and Cream Bars
  • Almond Joy’s
  • Chocolate Bars
  • Pretzels
  • Oreo’s
  • chocolate chip cookies
  • gummy bears
  • cereal
  • potato chips
  • candied bacon
  • Rice Krispies
  • peanut butter
  • nutella
  • honey

These are a few ideas to add to your dessert board. It’s to get creative with the ingredients that you choose. You will be surprised with the different combinations and how tasty they can be when put together.

How To Make a S’mores Board

The best part is there is no perfect way to build a board, it’s fun to get creative and hard to give exact instructions for a snack board as you want to be organically placed!

Begin by picking a board, plate, or platter to create your s’mores charcuterie board. You want to make sure whatever you choose is big enough to serve a crowd. You can also use Kraft paper or parchment paper too.

Next place your bowls of peanut butter and Nutella on the board first. Since these items are a bit bigger, you will want to work around them.

Then place graham crackers in stacks around the board. Spread out the stacks in a few different places around the board.

Continue by adding stacks of chocolate, followed by individual chocolates. For this board design, I placed one an entire Lindt chocolate candy bar on the board, stacked two Hershey’s cookies and cream bars and split the other milk chocolate bars in half.

Next fill in the blank areas with smaller chocolates like Reese’s, Peppermint Patties, truffles, Almond Joy bars, strawberries, and marshmallows.

Finally look at your board for empty spots and try and fill them in (for presentation) with marshmallows and smaller chocolates. It’s fun to stack things up, but don’t stack too high if you are feeding a crowd.


Taco Bar Party

Tacos are a cost-effective option for serving large groups of people while entertaining. A taco bar with all the toppings is easy and a lot of fun. Dining alfresco requires simple, delicious fare that's easy to serve and eat—and tacos cover all these bases.