When we think of hosting during the holiday season, it’s common to imagine sitting inside by the fire and closing up our outdoor entertaining area for the winter. Whether you’re in warmer climates or a spot with frequent snow, hosting friends outside on the porch and patio is still possible—and quite exciting—in the winter months. It’s just about knowing how to alter your outdoor space to create a warm and welcoming area for guests. Doing this breaks up the winter monotony of indoor activities and constrained cocktail parties. Winter can be a beautiful time to take in the natural beauty of the world around us. Consider these eight outdoor entertainment ideas for this coming holiday season.
1. Transition Your Outdoor Furniture
Prepare for outdoor hosting in the winter by shifting the use of your year-round patio furniture. Before guests gather outside, bring out thickly knitted blankets and bulk up the patio furniture with fluffy throw pillows. Add a braided rug to the floor to create a buffer from the potentially cold ground. Prepare yourself to quickly move and store these items for wetter weather patterns in during the winter months.
You may even consider repositioning the outdoor seating area altogether, focusing the attention of the primary meeting spot to face the fire pit or space heater. Encircle the fire pit with your patio furniture or turn it all toward a corner of the porch. Either option creates both a practical and comfy focal point when sitting and gathering in the colder weather.
2. Spruce up the décor
Once the winterized furniture is all set, design a festive pocket of coziness for you and your guests with holiday decorations. The outdoor seating and dining area can be just as cheery and decked out as the living room. Consider a merry centerpiece for the coffee or picnic table and add hints of the holidays throughout the throw pillows, side tables and along banisters and retaining walls.
Remember to add warmth using natural lighting as you would inside with candles and holiday lights. String twinkle lights along the porch, through centerpieces and on nearby foliage. Surround guests in light as they take in the chillier night air.
3. Light up the way
Shorter days means that guests will spend more time meandering through your yard in the darker hours. To make an outdoor gathering truly safe and enjoyable, remember to enhance your outdoor lighting design, especially at a foot level to accommodate walking along pathways and up and down stairs. Consider either temporary or permanent outdoor lighting, or go with a DIY approach for a more festive look. Handmade lanterns are great for one-night parties, while more permanent lighting prepares for frequent backyard use.
4. Focus on Warmth
Even if your region remains quite toasty in the winter months, now’s the chance to take advantage of brisk weather and gather your friends around a roaring fire. A fire pit, chiminea or outdoor fireplace are excellent ways to welcome everyone outside with enthusiasm.
Stock up on fire-friendly snacks like s’mores and popcorn, and consider firing up the grille to roast wintry barbecue dishes as you all celebrate the simplicity of the fire.
If your outdoor seating area is particularly large, bring out several space heaters for the seating further away from the natural fire to make sure every guest is accounted for.
5. Design an Outdoor Bar
There are plenty of fun ways to make an outdoor bar or wine station specially catered for the outdoors. For a more rustic approach, fill metal basins with ice or snow and fill with a collection of your favorite beer and bottles of wine.
Purchase a glass and metallic cart—both stylish and perfect for outdoor weather—and fill with your favorite spirits. Include drink menu cards that fit the wintry season, and be sure to include appropriate mixers and garnishes for winter cocktails. On colder nights, bring out the instant tea kettle for making hot toddies or warm up the slow cooker for hot apple cider and mulled wine.
6. Celebrate Other Seasonal Occasions
The end of December isn’t the only time to gather friends and family. As this tends to be the more difficult time to get on everyone’s busy schedule, consider hosting earlier or later in the season. Throw a winter solstice party on December 21, a holiday packed with fun rituals perfect for the outdoors. Or, push celebrations into January and February, a time when friends are longing for a little warmth and festivity as Spring slowly approaches. At the start of February, get everyone together around Groundhog’s day to celebrate the changing seasons on the horizon.
7. Explore Outdoor Activities
A wintry porch or patio is not only for traditional barbecues and cocktail parties. Get creative with your hosting. For example, throw a movie night by a roaring fire while munching on freshly popped popcorn, s’mores, or by warming soup and chili over the fire. Simple additions to cell phones and iPads make projecting movies easier when creating a make-shift backyard movie set up.
For a smaller group of friends, host a game night around your outdoor dining or coffee table, breaking out the cards or board games. Host a game night gathering on a monthly or weekly basis, providing a dependable and unique outing as the chillier months go by.
8. Host Winter Daytime Gatherings
Outdoor hosting opportunities easily extend into the daytime hours as well. Host a crafty afternoon while serving tea, coffee or mimosas, or have friends bring board games over for a day of fun and games. Getting that extra sun while exploring a new project is a lovely way to unwind and catch up with friends.
Similar to this theme, throw a brunch or morning tea time themed around winter coziness. Serve peppermint-flavored lattes or hot chocolate to complement the cooler air. Explore warmer wintry breakfast recipes like a hot oatmeal bar or stacks of pancakes and waffles with warm apple topping.
Even when the weather ebbs and flows, give your loved ones reasons to enjoy the brisk air and longer evenings with our outdoor entertainment ideas for the colder months. Creating an outdoor entertaining area opens a whole new world of opportunity. Once you’ve prepped your focal seating area, perhaps with a fire pit or with personalized holiday décor, throw a unique gathering—either day or night—and revel in the stunning cool weather that winter brings.