Here you'll find everything you need for just such an all-night expedition, including kid-friendly cookout recipes for nachos and mac 'n' cheese, an edible campfire cake, lessons in survival skills and enough energy-burning games to help campers settle down for the night -- and possibly even catch some z's!
IN TENT TO PARTY
Surprise guests with this simple pop-up tent invitation that kids can personalize with their own handwriting. Easy to make, the tent adds an element of surprise to your invites. In addition to providing party details, be sure to remind campers to bring their sleeping bags.
BACKYARD TREASURE HUNT
Get partygoers in gear with this easy-to-create scavenger hunt. Before the event, hide all the goody bags in one spot in your yard, then use a compass to create two or three clues leading to the cache. To write the first one, pick a starting point -- say, your back door -- then line up the compass with the place you want to hide the next clue and write a message leading to that spot. For example, "Look at the base of the tree that's due north of the back door." Tape that clue to the door, then repeat the process once or twice more, with the last clue leading the kids to their prize. When it's time to begin, simply brief players on how to use a compass before sending them off in search of the treasure.
WHO CAN TIE A SQUARE KNOT?
Give partygoers a crash course in roughing it in the wild with this easy-to-learn survival skill.
Knot-tying know-how is a necessity for any outdoorsman. One of the easiest to learn, the square knot is used for tying together two ropes or securing the ends of a bandage. Give your guests two 1-yard lengths of equally weighted rope or twine and see who can correctly tie the knot.
Bugs are inevitable party crashers, so why not invite them to join the fun -- and perform for a cheering crowd? For the Insect Olympics, have kids collect their contestants from the wild. Use cups for safe transport, or craft vacuum-style collectors like the one shown here.
Have each child collect a nonflying contestant, such as a millipede, pill bug, or other harmless insect, from the backyard. Draw two circles on a piece of cardboard as shown above, then put the racers inside the inner circle. The first contestant to exit the outside circle wins. Remind players to return their contestants to the wild when the games are over.
No adventurer would feel prepared without the proper gear. When prepping goody bags, consider including a handy gadget, such as a mini flashlight, a compass, a carabiner, or a water bottle. Those shown here were less than $2 each at Oriental Trading Company (orientaltrading.com). For a healthy on-the-go snack, toss in a bag of gorp.