Romantic Indoor Campground
by Kat Richter

Tents pitched inside a study
Camping can be great fun during the spring or fall but with the winter months fast approaching, now is not the time head out into the great outdoors. That said there's no reason you can't go camping right in your own backyard, or even your own living room! (Especially if your partner isn't terribly keen on roughin' it for real…)

Campfire Chow

First you need to make sure you have some proper camping snacks on hand. If your imaginary outdoor scenario includes a hard day on the trail, load up on granola bars or trail mix. If you're more into the smell of hot dogs roasting, go for burgers and dogs. Finally, don't forget the s'mores! For this campfire classic, you'll need a bag of marshmallows, a few chocolate bars and box of graham crackers.

If you're lucky enough to have an indoor fireplace, you're all set but if not, you'll have to get creative. You can grill your hotdogs on your barbeque before bringing them indoors, or just use your imagination and pretend you're roasting them over an open fire. In addition, you can pull out your laptop and set your screen to a play Youtube fireplace video (and believe it or not, such things do exist! Check out these fireplace videos and campfire videos.

For your s'mores, you can use the microwave to warm your marshmallows or you can prepare your very own "Mega S'mores" using the following technique.

  1. Lay four or five graham crackers in the bottom of a pan or microwave safe Tupperware.

  2. Add your marshmallows and chocolate and continue "layering" your materials as if you were making lasagna alternating between graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate.
  3. Place your pan into the oven at a low temperature or on a broil setting for just a few minutes to melt your chocolate and heat the marshmallows. Or, if you've used Tupperware, pop it into the microwave for 30 second intervals, rotating in between to ensure that you don't burn your Mega S'more
  4. Enjoy! (Hint: you might need a knife and fork; Mega S'mores can get messy!)

Another nice touch is classic Jiffy Pop popcorn. You can heat these over your stovetop, taking care to keep shaking the foil package to avoid burning your popcorn.

Set Up

Set the scene by affixing a package of glow and the dark stars to your ceiling. You can find these at most toy stores and even some arts and crafts shops. If you're into astronomy, you can recreate the actual night sky by searching the web for a map of the constellations and their current positions.

One great site is lunaf.com; it lets you customize your sky map for major cities around the world so you can set up your ceiling to represent your hometown's night sky or that of your sweetheart's dream vacation city, such as Honolulu or Paris.

For a more whimsical touch, you can arrange the stars into the shape of a heart, your initials or the date of your anniversary instead.

Set up Camp

Next you need pitch your tent. You can use an actual tent, as long as it's small enough to fit inside your living room, or you can channel your inner ten year old and build a blanket fort using sheets, a few chairs and some string or clothes pins to keep everything in place.

Fill your tent with blankets, pillows and sleeping bags if you have them. If your living room is carpeted, you should be okay to sleep directly on the floor but if not, you may want to add a sleep pad, air mattress or even a yoga mat to ensure that you and your partner will enjoy a good night's sleep.

Get into Character

You can't very well going camping in a pair of heels and your favorite LBD so be sure to dress the part and invite your partner to do the same. We suggest flannel pajamas, a cozy fleece sweater or even the Snuggie you've been hiding in the closet ever since your last late night infomercial binge.

Turn down the heat so that your living room starts to feel like a real campsite: not too cold but just chilly enough to cuddle. Stash your cell phone elsewhere for the night and ask your partner to do the same.

Turn off the lights as well and if you'd like to go really hardcore, turn off the electricity at the breaker (except for your fridge of course). Close the blinds to make sure your living room is pitch black, just like a real campsite at night.

If you need to go to the bathroom, take a flashlight with you or light a candle so you can play cards or your favorite board game. For bonus points, put together a selection of classic sing along songs for your very own campfire jam session or download some classic nature sounds such as crickets chirping or a soft, babbling brook.

Last but not least, don't forget about the ghost stories! Sharing stories around the campfire is an essential part of the camping experience so take turns reading aloud or spinning your own tales to get your partner's pulse racing. You can stop by your local library to pick up a collection of ghost stories or find some online. At the end of the night, crawl into your "tent" and snuggle up close to your partner to keep warm.   If you make it until the next morning without retreating to the bedroom or flipping on the TV, you might just be ready for a real camping trip next spring!

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