Outdoor Entertaining Tips for Cold Weather

Outdoor Entertaining in Winter

Outdoor Entertaining Tips for Cold Weather

Winter is coming! We all enjoyed entertaining outdoors this year, but temps are dropping and it’s getting trickier to celebrate big and small events outside. In many places, al fresco celebrations can still work in the cooler months — you just need to get crafty to keep your guests comfortable. I’m sharing all my tried and true tips for entertaining outdoors in cold weather.

Set Expectations

Ask guests to dress warmly. Provide clear wording on the invitation that states you’ll be celebrating outside and let people know what provisions you’ll be making (i.e. will there be a tent? heaters?). This reminder will ensure your attendees are appropriately dressed, and hopefully they’ll remember to layer up or bring that extra hat or scarf.

Start Earlier

Take advantage of the daylight hours by choosing an earlier start time for your winter outdoor party. Instead of a dinner, plan a brunch or lunch event so the sunlight can provide some extra warmth.

Light a Fire

A fire pit is a major upgrade to your outdoor entertaining set-up. My family has a fire pit on the back porch that makes sitting outside in the winter months much more enjoyable. (I also love that ours is higher than most, which allows it to be used as a table to set down your drink.) For a smaller and more portable option, go for a chiminea. These both create a warm gathering spot and contribute to the ambiance of your event.

Outdoor Fire Pit

Turn Up the Heat

If you’re looking to make an investment, you can purchase a freestanding patio heater. I know these are in short supply these days with restaurants and bars buying them up, but you can also rent them. Check local party event rental companies to see if they offer daily rentals.

Add Blankets

Placing cozy throws on the back of each seat will make sure guests are nice and toasty. Mismatched blankets can help create a homey, lodge-like vibe for your event. At one party I worked on, we even had Snuggies available so guests had their hands free to hold drinks or roast s’mores.

Supply Pashminas

If you live in a warmer part of the country where blankets feel too extreme, opt for pashminas. This is seriously one of my favorite entertaining hacks. Roll them up and display them in a basket so people can grab one when they get chilly. Pashminas can be used as a wrap or scarf and look elegant for the ladies. My secret for these is ordering in bulk from Fashion Anything. They are so inexpensive but always feel high quality.

Serve Warm Drinks

Offering a warm specialty drink to your guests will go a long way. I love the idea of a hot chocolate bar with marshmallows, toppings and booze to spike it. It would be a hit with both kids and adults. A warm apple cider, mulled wine or hot coffee station work too!

Curate Your Menu

While I usually say there’s never a bad time for ice cream, this may be the exception. Fill your menu with hot food items. Serve a warm soup for your first course or pass soup shooters as an hors d’oeuvre. A fondue station would be another fun appetizer that gives off an après ski vibe. Comfort foods (think grilled cheese or pigs in a blanket) or roasted seasonal vegetables feel festive for a winter get together.

Make Seating Cozy

We’ve all experienced the discomfort of sitting on freezing cold furniture. Warm up your seating by adding some fabric. Put out cushions for your outdoor chairs and bring out additional pillows for the lounge areas.

Give Out Practical Favors

If you’re thinking of doing favors, go for something that will keep guests warm. For a milestone celebration, a cute beanie with your event logo would make the best gift. Casual events at home can always benefit from custom koozies. They’re so affordable and help keep hands from getting chilly while sipping on beer or other iced beverages.

What are your favorite hacks for entertaining outdoors in the winter?

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