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This is how we do:
Bonfire Night

Tonight and tomorrow, the night sky will be ablaze with colour. Bonfire Night (well, Bonfire Weekend, really) has almost arrived. While organised firework displays will always make us ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’, we prefer to host a good old-fashioned family display in our gardens (or at the very least, a little pre-show party) so we can bring that special excitement we all associate with Bonfire Night to the heart of our homes.

Spend it…

With friends

This is an ideal opportunity to invite the neighbours and nearby friends over for the evening. There’s the immediate focus of the event for everyone to chat about, so you’ll never find yourself short of conversational openers – always helpful with people you don’t see that often.

With children

Whether you’re a parent or not, having a brood of gleeful children racing in and out of the garden rekindles the joy of this autumn festival. They get to write their name in the afterglow of a sparkler. They line up to toast marshmallows. And they gasp at the colourful sparkling lightshow above. Which gives all us grown-ups the perfect excuse to do exactly the same things, with just as much child-like glee…

With consideration

It’s a good idea to provide a quieter room, with books and a family-friendly DVD ready to go for those who want to avoid the bangs. Alternatively, keep a pair or two of headphones or extra fluffy earmuffs to hand. They can help muffle the noise and yet still feel a bit fun to wear together.

Without pets

Set aside a safe place for your pets to hide, well ahead of darkness falling. You know your pet best, but they may need a human companion by their side until things are quiet again. If the house is going to be busy, put a polite sign on the door.

In comfort

Provide plenty of warm, cosy throws for people to wrap up in – inside the house and outside. If you have bifold doors, roll them right back for an inside-outside feel.

With safety first

If you’re putting on your own display, set a strict clearance distance. You’ll probably be buying what are classed as ‘garden’ fireworks. This means everyone must stand at least eight metres away. (Display-grade fireworks need 25 metres.) Mark your boundary with a bright string of battery-operated fairy lights or a length of cheery neon ribbon. Have several buckets of cold water on hand – not least for dropping used sparklers into.

Next to a crackling fire

Bonfires are brilliant, but we think a firepit can be just as evocative. It’s also a lot easier to manage and keep safe. Back inside, clusters of candles (set well above the reach of children) add to the evening’s glow.

Served with warming food

Keep food simple and hearty, so it can be carried easily out into the garden. So, think spicy sausages inside lengths of French baguettes, mugs of creamy pumpkin soup and home-baked cookies or chunks of spicy stem ginger cake.

If you’re hosting a ‘pre-display’ party, everyone will head off for the main event at around the same time. But we’d lay bets that your cosy gathering at home will be the part of the evening to linger longest in everyone’s memories.


Words by Jo Leevers.

About the author
Jo Leevers writes for some of the UK's most acclaimed lifestyle magazines and national newspapers, from The Telegraph to Homes & Antiques.