ANSWER - Not often I get called sensible - thanks! Lol. Perhaps you would consider dropping a line to my husband...?
I've been thinking about your question and I think I may have the answer. Its a bit cheap and cheerful but it is certainly down to earth witchcraft. How about getting one of those disposable barbecue units and then when you have used it once, simply replacing the coals in the bottom of the base. It will certainly generate enough heat to burn paper, it is designed to be safe and as far as cost goes, its a pretty cheap solution.
I personally use a chiminea and if you are looking for a more permanent solution which unlike a fire pit is very movable and doesn't need much construction, a chiminea may work for you as well. But for the most basic immediate solution, I really don' t think you could do much better than a disposable barbecue.