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  • Writer's pictureHeather Green

8 Backyard and Living Room Camping Ideas

Updated: Dec 24, 2023

Last year, my husband discovered how much he enjoys camping. I even got him a campfire cooking set. So you can imagine how disappointed I was when things started going into lockdown. While the COVID-19 numbers are staying pretty even in Massachusetts, I’m not sure I want to press my luck by going to a campsite where there are shared areas like bathrooms. However, that’s no reason to cancel camping plans! This post contains everything you need to have fun camping in your own home or backyard and you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy this!


One of the high points of my summers growing up was when I’d be allowed to go on a camping trip held by the church I attended. I didn’t really care too much for the activities as much as I enjoyed watching the stars at night and strolling through the woods in the early morning hours while the grass was still covered in dew. I have so many great memories, like being in the camp pool and watching heat lightning happen off in the distance during humid nights.

Just because you can’t go to a proper campground, doesn’t mean you still can’t have fun. Fun doesn’t need a campground, kids, or even a tent. Just the willingness to enjoy some time sleeping outside of the bedroom.

The following are a list of fun ideas if you’re deciding to go camping close to home:

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1.) Camping in the Backyard: This is pretty straightforward. Just set up your tent in the backyard and bring everything you would on a normal camping trip! Try to only go inside for bathroom breaks.

You can also set up your tent in the living room, or build a tent out of pillows from beds and couches!

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2.) Get a Small Grill to Contain a Campfire: In the area I live in, you’re really not allowed to have fire pits. This, of course, doesn’t stop a lot of people, but it can be dangerous for all the trees we have around. Grills are allowed though and frankly, it’s not going to ruin your lawn as a campfire would. There are small grills that don’t cost much and will cook hotdogs, hamburgers, and smores just fine!

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3.) Decorate the Inside of Your Tent: Break out the small faerie lights, bring out some fancy pillows from the couch. Being so close to home means you can have a few extras that you might not be able to bring on an actual camping trip. Glamping, anyone?

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4.) Plan some Classic Camping food: Hot dogs, hamburgers and smores are fantastic ideas, but don’t be afraid to get creative! Because you don’t have to necessarily worry about your food thawing in the car, you can have more fun! Try fast cooking things like Shrimp Shish Kabobs, Smore Cones, Guacamole with chips, Pigs in a Blanket, Campfire Potatoes, and these ADORABLE baby Mini Meatloaves! The positive side of cooking these things closer to home is that if you mess up, you can always order a pizza. However, if your meals are a success, then you can make a mental note of that for when campgrounds are safe again.

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5.) Break Out the Board Games!: Depending on how many you’re bringing on your “camping” trip there are TONS of fun games. Since it’s just my husband and me in our little family, two-player games are great. We enjoy Magic the Gathering, but if your family is larger (and older), I highly recommend cards against humanity. It’s a bit rude, but LOTS of fun. If you’re outside, games like Cornhole, Ring and Washer Toss, Beer Pong (if you’re old enough to drink), and Horseshoes. are all classics.

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6.) Spooky Stories by the Fire: One thing that my husband and I do when we go camping is to listen to LORE. This is a Podcast that has been going on for a few years now so you have TONS of spooky historical stories to listen to. Also if you like Aaron Mahnke’s Lore, you are going to LOVE his short stories on The Cabinet of Curiosities. These are also spooky historical stories, but they are much shorter ranging on average about 15-20 minutes. I even like listening to these while doing housework.

7.) Campy Movies: Regardless if you’re in your home doing some livingroom camping, or if you’re in a tent outside doing some backyard camping, I think funny camping movies are an absolute necessity. I’ll be honest. To me, camping should be FUN, which means maybe silly camping movies, but not ones that are terrifying. I think sleeping in an unusual space can be scary enough (even with friends) so below are some movies that I think are must-watches for any age group. Some you might remember, some you may not have heard of, but all of them are camp classics.

  1. Troop Beverly Hills: Great camping chick flick! It’s about a newly divorced material girl mother who is trying to bond with her daughter by being in charge of a girl scout group. It’s a comedy and you can read more about it HERE.

  1. Heavyweights: This comedy was my first introduction to Ben Stiller’s work. It was also my first introduction to Kenan Thompson’s comedy (he was funny even as a kid). It’s about a bunch of kids who are shipped off to fat camp. Ben Stiller is a health and fitness fanatic who takes the fun out of camp. The kids decide to band together to overthrow him. You can read more about it HERE.

  1. Classic Horror Movies: When I say classics, I mean movies from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. I’m talking black and white Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolfman, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man,  and Creature of the Black Lagoon. Seriously, in my opinion, no remake can ever match the timelessness of these movies. The dialogue, the special effects and lack of CG makes everything seem so real. They almost border on fun in that the things that scare people now are WAY different than what scared people back when these were made, for example, presidential elections are the things that scare me more than any wolfman ever could.

  1. THEM!: Them is so much fun. It’s about giant ants that attack a community. Growing up in Florida where there are fire ants, makes this movie scarier than it should be, but it’s still a lot of fun. You can read more about this fun film HERE.

  1. The Attack of the 50 Foot Woman: Okay, this is classic horror as well, but I kind of wanted to give this movie its own space, because honestly, as an educated woman I think it’s funny that the scariest thing to men at this time was a pissed off woman who was bigger than them. You can read more about it HERE.

  1. War of the Worlds: This 1953 movie was adapted from a radio story that aired in 1938. While more modern versions of this have been created recently, I like the 1953 version because for the most part it’s kid-friendly and to see the strings holding up the “alien” ships makes it extra funny. You can read more about it HERE.

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8.) Download a Stargazing App on Your Phone: What would camping be if you couldn’t do a little star gazing? There are several phone apps you can download that will show you the constellations and let you explore the night sky! My favorite app is Google Sky. I personally love this app because I can look at the stars right above me, even when I’m lying in my home.

I think it’s important especially during these monotonous times, that we go out of our way to mix things up a bit from time to time, and camping in the living room or backyard sounds like it would fun. I think it’s always good to allow your inner child to have a good time once in a while and there’s nothing more enjoyable than camping during the summer (even if it is in your home or backyard). -Heather Astaneh

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