My husband and I love to entertain, and he’s always up for inviting friends over. I usually feel like we have to wait until the house is clean, the backyard is tidied up…insert other reason here. But of course, at least in our world, if we wait until everything is perfect, we’ll never end up inviting people over!

So one of our favorite ways to entertain is to host a s’mores party. It’s easy, it’s inexpensive, it mostly takes place outside. And, really, who can’t overlook a little clutter when eating a s’more?

At this point we’ve probably hosted a dozen s’mores parties — some with one other family, some with several families and an epic back-to-school party this August with 45 people (no kidding!)- so I think you’ll agree that I am an expert here. Lucky for you, I’m happy to share all my secrets! (Which, honestly, you could probably figure out for yourself!)

Here’s what you need:

1. A backyard. Sorry apartment dwellers!

2. A fire pit.  If you don’t have one surely one of your friends does: borrow theirs and be sure to include them on the invitation list!

3. Wood — large logs, medium sized sticks and small sticks (for kindling). You’ll also need several long, thin, straight-ish sticks for roasting the marshmallows. Either burn the ends or have a former Boy or Girl Scout whittle the bark off with their handy dandy pocket knife.

Making the kids search for the kindling and roasting sticks is a great way to keep them occupied during the beginning of the party and saves you from doing that prep work!

And, here’s your menu:

1. 1-2 bags of marshmallows. Personally, I’m partial to Kraft. Do not. I repeat: do not be temped by the jumbo “roasting” marshmallows. The outside will burn before the center even gets warm.

2. 1-2 boxes of graham crackers. You probably need more graham crackers than you realize; keep in mind that each s’more uses an entire graham cracker.

3. Chocolate bars.

I take my chocolate very seriously so have several notes here. Of course classic s’mores are made with Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars. If you go this route, I strongly recommend buying a few six-packs of the regular sized bars. I know, I know, the snack size bars are very tempting. But, they are slightly thicker than the regular sized bars and don’t melt as well. Plus you end up with lots of wrappers laying around. If you want to go crazy, you can also get creative with Milk Chocolate with Almond bars or Dark Chocolate bars, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, etc. You could also offer some gourmet chocolate options for the adults (keep in mind that this could significantly increase your budget!).

4. Drinks. We usually keep it simple when it comes to drinks and just offer pitchers of ice water but tell friends they can BYOB. If you want, you can certainly provide more interesting drinks. A caution, though: the s’mores are so sweet that you don’t want to offer many sweet drink options. In cooler weather hot chocolate would be a fun addition!

One of the beauties of a s’mores party is that you don’t need plates or utensils. Some good napkins do the trick!

Start your party after dinnertime, say 7pm, and get your fire started before dark. I’m sure it goes without saying that a few adults need to monitor the fire area at all times, especially if there are toddlers careening around the yard like at our house!

If you can borrow the fire pit and collect the wood from your neighborhood or your own woodpile, this entire shin-dig will only cost you around $25. And that’s what I call budget-friendly — and yummy — entertaining!

When she’s not roasting the perfect marshmallow (golden brown, not burnt!) Aimee blogs about life with her boys at Smiling Mama and about family friendly activities to get out and about in Prince George’s County, MD at Out by Ten.