Reading by torch light, eating toasted marshmallows, singing round the campfire, hosting a teddy bear's picnic... Indoor camping can be just as magical and fun as the real thing – but without the hassle of leaking tents and creepy crawlies in your wellies.
With the right kit, a vivid imagination and a little bit of help from you, your happy campers can create their very own piece of paradise. But before they sit back, relax and enjoy the view – there's work to be done...
1. Gather your camping gear
Pack a rucksack with all those camping-trip essentials: snacks, drinks, a torch, toys, books and games, pens and paper, some plastic plates and knives and forks, cuddly toys for company... let them create their own personal outdoor survival kits.
2. Choose your pitch
Choose a quiet corner where they can have some privacy and freedom and plenty of space – under the dining room table can be fun if you don't have enough space in the living room.
3. Build your den
Creating your hideaway under the make-believe stars is all part of the fun – and something you can do together.
A kitchen or dining room table, dining room chairs or even plastic patio furniture make a great framework. Now for the fun part – drape the furniture with colourful bedspreads, throws, fabrics and sheets. Ta da!
TIP: A long-handled broom stood inside a container can be used to prop up the duvet and add some height at the doorway.
4. Get cosy
Now it's time to turn your house into a home. Make it super-cosy with a mattress topper and pile in lots of cushions, pillows, blankets and fabrics – the more, the merrier. Just leave enough space for the kids!
5. Make a 'Keep Out' sign
6. Set the scene
To create an atmospheric indoor woodland glade, place some soft toy animals around the room for your kids to catch a glimpse of. Binoculars are a bonus if you have them for bird watching or looking at the stars from the window.
7. Get the fire going
If you have a real fire and are able to camp close to that (not too close, of course) gather up some twigs from the garden and toast marshmallows over the flames. If not, don't worry, you can build your own using a pile of twigs and tissue paper or cellophane cut into flame-shaped strips.
8. Hosting a tea party
For younger children, this is the perfect place to host a teddy bears' picnic, complete with tea set and imaginary feast. You never know, you might be invited to join them, too. If you want to go the whole hog, bake a batch of tea-party fairy cakes together beforehand. After all, camping is hungry work.
9. Chilling out (grown-ups keep out)
Older children might prefer to use their hideaway as a private place to relax – reading a book by torchlight, eating snacks, playing board games with friends... The (indoor) sky's limit!
Here's a list of everything you need to create the perfect den of delight...
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