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21 Ways to Make The Most of Your Fire Pit This Season

Because one of the saddest sights is a fire pit that doesn't live up to it's potential.

A fire pit is one of the backyard’s best accessories. Whether a simple wood-burning pit or more expensive natural gas or propane-fed unit, a fire pit offers year-round enjoyment. If you think of the backyard as another section of your house — and you really should — the space around the fire pit is like a TV-less family room, the spot where everyone eventually congregates at the end of the day for connection, warmth, and to make the day last a little while longer. It’s a place to toast marshmallows for s’mores and tell stories and just chill while the fire crackles and the night breeze blows. It’s also a great bug-defender (smoke = fewer mosquitoes) and a hell of a spot to sit with your spouse and unwind after a day of checking off to-do lists, wrangling the kids, and being a busy parent. As one of the saddest sights is a fire pit that doesn’t live up to its potential, here are 21 things to do with a fire pit this summer.

  1. Grab sticks or skewers and toast some marshmallows over the open flame. Make s’mores if you want.
  2. Gather around the pit and play some campfire games. Try: sentence-by-sentence story. Someone kicks it off with a starter sentence, then the person to their right says the next sentence, on and on until the story ends or the group is overtaken by giggles.
  3. Buy some colorant packets to make different colors appear in the fire and convince the kids you have magical powers.
  4. Burn some sage on the fire pit to keep mosquitoes away. The herb acts as a naturally bug deterrent.
  5. Use it as your main light source. Not even the fanciest outdoor lighting can compete with the ambient light of flickering flames.
  6. Buy a nice bottle of wine and have a romantic date night around the fire.
  7. Roast some hot dogs on a stick or kebabs. (This is for wood or charcoal pits only, as the grease can gum up gas pits)
  8. Have a foil-packet food night. Wrap shrimp with lemon, butter, and lots of pepper. Or try some asparagus with olive oil and lots of parmesan cheese. Low effort, low clean-up.
  9. Light the fire pit when the kids are using their water tables or pools so they have a great spot to dry off after wards.
  10. Use the wood ash as fertilizer for your gardens. It’s a great source of potassium and lime that can be sprinkled on the ground or mixed with composted fertilizer.
  11. Live out your blacksmith fantasies and use the fire pit as a makeshift forge. Lead doesn’t require super-high heat to melt. Knife-making anyone?
  12. Read a book as a family around the fire. Few things pair as well as a fire and The Hobbit.
  13. Tell ghost stories. Or, if the kids are old enough, read from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
  14. Eat dessert around the fire.
  15. Bring a Bluetooth speaker and introduce the kids to new genres of music around the fire.
  16. Bust out the guitar — or musical instrument of your choice — and play for the kids.
  17. Do some fireside drawing with the kids. Sketch the fire or the scenery.
  18. Buy a popcorn basket and cook some kernels over the open fire.
  19. Find a deck of cards and play some games near the fire.
  20. Fireside board games are never a bad idea. The less complicated the better.
  21. Take a minute and just enjoy the peace and quiet.