Planning the Perfect Bonfire Night Party

November 4, 2016
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Planning your celebrations for Bonfire Night? Here, we suggest how you can host a Bonfire Night party and have an enjoyable time this year, while keeping everyone safe.

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Toasting marshmallows over a fire

Bonfire and Firework Safety

If you’re having your own bonfire or firework display this year, you need to remember that both can be very dangerous. Last year, the London Fire Brigade attended over 2,000 incidents over the Halloween and Bonfire Night period.

If you haven’t set off fireworks or lit a bonfire before, it’s important that you fully understand how to do so safely. Visit our article Bonfire & Firework Safety: Assessing The Risks to find out how to ensure your bonfires or firework displays are safe by following the Firework Code.

If you don’t feel comfortable setting off fireworks or having a bonfire, or believe you won’t be able to do so safely, you should commemorate the day in a different way.

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Alternatives to Bonfire and Fireworks for Bonfire Night

It’s worth mentioning that most local councils and fire and rescue services, such as the London Fire Brigade, strongly discourage setting off fireworks or having bonfires in private gardens. This is because they can be incredibly dangerous and a health and safety risk to those involved and nearby.

Instead of setting off fireworks or having a bonfire, emergency services and local councils are suggesting alternative events for your Bonfire Night party. For example, you could:

  • Light some sparklers and use these in your garden. These should be lit one at a time, gloves must always be worn, and a bucket of water kept close by. If there are children present, they must be supervised when using the sparklers, and children under five should not be given them at all.
  • Bake some traditional Bonfire Night treats such as toffee apples or parkin. This can be a fun and tasty activity for both children and adults alike. You could also make some mulled cider or apple juice. Keep reading for some recipe inspiration!
  • Gather inside and play some board games or other party activities. This is another activity that can bring your family together and make something of the evening. If you do have a fireplace, you could always light that to create an alternative kind of bonfire.
Family playing a board game with cards

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Bonfire Night Preparations: Buying Fireworks

It is essential that you buy fireworks for your party that meet the required safety standards. When purchasing fireworks, make sure that they are CE marked and British Standard compliant. British Standard fireworks have undergone rigorous criteria to ensure they are safe for the general public to use.

The fireworks you purchase should say on the label that they comply with British Standard BS 7114 Category 2. This category means that they are safe to be set off in an enclosed outdoor area such as a garden.

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Keeping Pets Safe: Dogs, Cats & Small Animals

According to the RSPCA, 45% of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks. In order to make your party fun for everyone – including your dogs and cats – you can make some simple changes during your party.

  • It is always a good idea to provide your pet with a hiding place in the house where they will always feel safe if anything distresses them. An example of this could be under furniture or inside a cupboard. Don’t try to coax your pet out of their spot – this can cause further distress.
  • If you need to walk your dog, try and do this during daylight hours to avoid the times when fireworks are likely to be set off. Keep your cat indoors during evenings.
  • It is advisable to close all curtains and drown out the noise of the fireworks using music or the television.
  • If you have smaller animals such as rabbits or guinea pigs, or any other pets that live outside, partly cover their cages with blankets so that one area is well sound-proofed. Make sure that your pet is still able to look out. Put extra budding in the cage so the animals can burrow in to escape the noise.
  • For more information on spotting the signs of distress in pets, check out this piece from Vets Now.
Dog indoors

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Fireworks Health and Safety Considerations

To ensure everyone is kept safe during your Bonfire Night party, you should:

  • Insist that everyone watches the fireworks from one side only. Don’t let your guests stand around the fireworks, as it is harder to make sure everyone is a safe distance away. Lights your fireworks on a sturdy, flat surface, avoiding any piles of leaves or foliage.
  • Make sure you have a bucket filled with water to soak any used fireworks or fireworks which have failed to go off in. It is also a good idea to have a hose nearby to douse down any fires which could ignite as a result of the fireworks.
  • Never let children light fireworks. This should be done by a responsible adult who has not drunk alcohol beforehand. Sparklers are not recommended for children under 5.
  • Light one firework at a time. If it doesn’t go off after the fuse has burnt all the way down then it is probably a dud. However, wait half an hour before putting any duds into the bucket of water. Make sure that the firework has finished before lighting the next one. When lighting the fireworks, use a long-tipped lighter to keep your hands away from the flame.
  • Never smoke near fireworks. Also choose to wear cotton clothing if you are lighting the fireworks so if you get burnt it doesn’t stick to your skin. If the weather is particularly windy, it is recommended that you don’t light the fireworks at all.

You can find more information on bonfire night safety in our article Bonfire & Firework Safety: Assessing the Risks.

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Bonfire Night Party Food and Drink Inspiration

We’ve selected a handful of recipes that we think will go down a treat at your bonfire party. If you’re having fireworks or a bonfire, then ideally the food you serve needs to be easy to eat whilst watching fireworks and warming. You can also have fun making your sweet treats in advance with children – have a go at homemade toffee apples, cupcakes or bonfire toffee.

Hot Dogs

So now you know how to have a safe and successful bonfire night, you need some good food and drink to top it off. The BBC Good Food website has some great ideas for bonfire night treats. One that we think is a great idea is their recipe for ‘hot diggedy dogs’, a quick and easy way to make a delicious Bonfire Night classic that adults and kids will both enjoy.


  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 6 large pork sausages
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 6 big flour tortillas
  • 2 tbsp tomato relish


Heat your oven to 180 °C for a fan oven (200 °C for a conventional oven). Pour the oil into the tin and allow it to heat up. Add the sausages to the hot tin and roast for 10 minutes.

Move the sausages to the outer edges of the tin and then scatter the sliced onion in the centre. Sprinkle the onion slices with the mustard seeds, add some salt and pepper, and turn the sausages to coat them in the hot oil. Return the dish to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the onions are golden and the sausages are completely cooked through.

You can heat the flour tortillas in the oven, microwave or in a dry frying pan to make them softer and easier to roll. Place a sausage and some onion on each one, top with a spoonful of relish and roll, folding the bottom over. Serve straight away. You can serve them to your party guests in paper napkins, meaning less washing up!

Tray of hot dogs

Mulled Apple Juice

To complete your bonfire night festivities you need a good drink. There is nothing better than a nice mulled apple juice, an alternative to an alcoholic mulled wine and suitable for all ages.


  • 1 litre apple juice
  • 1 orange, with the peel in strips
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • Sugar or honey, to taste


  1. Combine all the ingredients except the sugar or honey in a non-stick saucepan.
  2. Simmer gently for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Sweeten with sugar or honey, to taste.
  4. Serve hot in mugs. Please note it may need time to cool down first!

Mulled Cider

If the adults fancy something similar but a little stronger, then why not make a mulled cider. Jamie Oliver has a great recipe for this:


  • 2 litres good-quality traditional cider
  • 6 cloves
  • 3-4 star anise
  • ¼ nutmeg, finely grated into the pan
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla pod, halved
  • juice of 1 orange
  • juice of 2 clementines
  • 1 pomegranate, juice and seeds of
  • 4–5 tablespoons caster sugar


  1. Pour the cider into a large pan on a low heat and warm through for a few minutes.
  2. Add all the spices and juices and turn the heat up.
  3. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer for 5–8 minutes.
  4. Taste the cider and if you need to, then add sugar.
  5. The key is not having it too sweet but the sugar can blend in with the other spices. When the flavours are just right, ladle it into mugs and serve warm.

If you have success with these recipes, tag us in your photos on twitter @hst.

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