For Albertan families, this is our second summer of vacationing at home, and many of us are itching to get away. Some have been lucky enough to snap up a campsite this year, but not everyone owns an RV or a tent - or even likes roughing it!
As you may know, ‘Glamping’ is a term to describe Glamorous Camping; a mashup of camping and staying in a swanky hotel. Glamping offers all the comforts and amenities of home with the enjoyment of creating a sweet family vacation! There are a couple of tent rental companies in Calgary that will do the whole thing for you, but this can be a fun DIY that will keep your kids busy during long summer days (glamping also works as a parents’ retreat!).
Glamping in style
The key to making your outdoor space into a fun backyard glamping experience is to make it cozy, interesting, and different from your indoor space. If you are using a gazebo instead of a tent, add shower curtains to tie in with your glamping theme. Add the shower curtains to the sides of the gazebo to keep out sunlight, so the kids can keep cool during the day, and comfortable while sleeping at night. Shower curtains dry quickly if it rains and they are inexpensive to purchase. Really, you don’t have to spend much in order to make your glamping experience fabulous!
To ramp up your glamping style - and get the kids busy - try bunting. Bunting (tiny triangular flags) are easy for kids to make. Cut 10 pieces of letter-sized paper into long diamond shapes, and have the kids decorate one side (decorating the bunting with glitter not recommended unless you want to find specs of glitter in your tent for years to come!). Fold the centre of each diamond over a piece of string and glue it together, so it looks like a triangle with the string at the top and the points of each triangle hanging down. Make a larger gap between each triangle and the length should be about five to six feet. Attach around the inside of your tent. For weather-resistant bunting, use fabric scraps instead of paper. If using paper, your kids can decorate the bunting according to your glamping theme or maybe each member of the family wants to represent by each drawing a self-portrait (don’t forget to draw Fido!) on a triangle. Get creative and use your imagination!
One of the best things about styling your tent is you can mix and match! Bring in a few things from your house: a coffee table or other flat surface to put stuff on, and plenty of pillows and colorful cushions. You can purchase vibrant cushion covers reasonably and change things up a bit! For the remainder of the furnishings, bring in rattan or wicker, layer rugs, and blankets. Use plenty of color and enjoy your cozy sanctuary.
To illuminate the inside of your tent, purchase small solar lights and place the lighting around the inside edge of the tent to create a special glow. And remember, safety first! Always use battery-operated candles. For chilly nights, bring an extension cord from your house for a small heater to turn on at night or use hot-water bottles. Do not leave kids unattended with a heater in the tent or if the fire pit is lit. Better yet, use cold weather sleeping bags if you have them or make sure the kids are dressed in layers, so they can peel off extra clothing if they get too hot while sleeping. Have blankets on hand for warmth and extra cushioning.
To create a boho-chic look while supporting fair trade, check out Ten Thousand Villages, Sawa Market & Cafe, or Mañana Imports & Gifts in Calgary. For more comfort, sleep on air mattresses or buy a foam mattress to place under the sleeping bags. Place an outdoor rug outside the tent door and add some cushions outside the tent, too.
During the day, keep it simple and eat picnic-style. The kids can pitch in by making the lemonade and setting up a snack station close to the tent. If you like, set up an adults-only cocktail tray or a mocktail tray for everyone to enjoy on a hot summer day and prepare hot apple cidier or hot cocoa. Don’t forget the marshmallows! You are on vacation, after all, so dine in style by using your good dishes and glassware (trust me, they won’t break if dropped on grass). It’s important to be kind to the Earth - avoid using plastic or disposable glassware and plates. Take your picnic up a notch by creating delicious charcuterie boards: one for the kids and one for the adults. During the evening, again, keep it simple and cook on the barbeque. It’s fair to say that most kids like to eat hot dogs or hamburgers. And, of course, it’s classic camp fare for a reason; for dessert, there’s nothing like making S’mores on an open fire or gas fire bowl!
Pretend like you really are at a campsite. This is the perfect time for the kids to put away their electronics - including you (but don’t forget to snap a few holiday pics as this will be something to remember). Play board games, learn how to play a new card game, create a little friendly competition with freeze tag, water balloon catch, ring toss, obstacles course, Chubby Bunny, sleeping bag race… Then need some downtime? Set out some engaging reading material: books, comic books, magazines. Cap off the day with a kid-friendly movie projected onto the inside wall of the tent when it’s dark. After the kids have fallen asleep with popcorn in their hair and sticky marshmallow cheeks, The Great Outdoors is a hilarious, classic movie for adults to watch and get into the spirit of enjoying (hence the name) the great outdoors!
Extend your glamping staycation
Glamp a few weekends in a row! You can go all out and decorate your tent with a different country theme each weekend. Use your favorite take-out places to inspire you (it’s a win-win, you don’t need to cook either!). Borrow library books with stories set in each chosen country. Use bright tropical colors for Mexico and celebrate Cinco de Mayo; create a shabby-chic tent and play boules (bocce ball) in the ‘French countryside’; have a castle theme and serve Fish & Chips for a British experience… Who needs to spend thousands of dollars travelling overseas when your family can tour the world in your own backyard?
This summer, have fun, get creative, and get your glamp on for your epic family summer staycation!
Natalie is the owner of Lavish Canvas. Lavish Canvas sets up, furnishes, and decorates luxurious glamping tents in your backyard or campsite. For more information and to book your family’s ultimate glamping experience, visit lavishcanvas.com, follow on Facebook, and Instagram.
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