Creating an outdoor s’mores station

1 December, 2014

One of the best things about outdoor fire bowls is that they make the perfect excuse for a party at this time of year. Next time you have friends or family over for a gathering, consider heading outdoors and giving a s'mores party a try!

The s'mores bar
You can't beat a traditional graham cracker, marshmallow and Hershey's bar s'more; the classic campfire combination is almost a rite of passage. There are a bunch of ways to give you and your guests s'more selection, though, and quite a few ways to make the gathering gourmet.

Beginning with the shell, there are so many ways to switch up your sweet treats. Ritz crackers are said to make great graham substitutes because they create a salty-sweet effect you can't get from the latter. Girl Scout cookies make them extra indulgent, while waffle cones cut down on mess. Milk chocolate can be substituted with anything from Reese's peanut butter cups to York Peppermint Patties, and marshmallows come in a multitude of flavors. 

Beyond the traditional trifecta, there are plenty of extras to incorporate onto your buffet table. Almost any fruit can be added, such as crushed blackberries or banana slices, while bacon is currently taking the s'mores scene by storm. You can also put out a few spread to put between the chocolate and cracker – try out Nutella, peanut butter or Biscoff cookie spread. Ice cream sundae toppings such as toasted coconut and chopped pecans are also very popular.

If you're hosting an adult gathering, there are even a few drink pairings you can consider. As with all food and drink pairings, there are two ways to go: you can complement the s'mores or you can contrast them. Complements include anything that will enhance their gooey sweetness: think chocolate stouts, hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps, or even a cocktail made with s'mores vodka. To cut through the rich flavor of the s'mores, try a raspberry lambic or a Belgian quadruple. Whichever adult beverage you choose, it's sure to kick your backyard campfire up a notch.

The s'more supplies
There are no s'mores without marshmallow-roasting skewers, and no roasted marshmallows without one or two firepits. Beyond these crucial components, be sure to stock up on plenty of paper plates, napkins and paper towels. You'll also need a fair amount of trash bags to accommodate all the gooey, discarded plates and charred marshmallow mishaps.  

Set up your s'mores bar on a few outdoor coffee tables or a patio dining table (using a festive table cloth will help protect your table from any rogue ingredients and set the mood). Serve the ingredients on metal trays or stack them into clear jars to save space. If you've got a particularly eclectic sampling, consider placing a stack of paper and pens on the table so guests can write down their favorite combinations. A cute way to spice up your buffet table even more is with fun labels. You can do this with simple adhesive name tags, chalkboard-style place cards or by writing directly onto a paper table cloth.

Last but not least, make sure there is plenty of outdoor furniture around for your guests to sit on while they enjoy the cozy evening.