People living in a cold climate like ours are understandably nervous about this winter. Along with seasonal illnesses, the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and there are no reliable ways to be safely indoors with people outside of a family “quarantine bubble.” If we can no longer see friends in our gardens or in the park, how will we withstand the cabin fever?
Well, entertaining outdoors doesn’t have to stop when the weather cools. Outdoor entertaining in winter may be challenging, especially in regard to keeping everyone warm, but the following are some solutions that can help people stay warm and have fun outside.
Invest in fire pits. Fire pits are an affordable way to heat a patio or another outdoor area. They can be great places for friends and family to gather around and enjoy special occasions. They’re readily available from garden centers and home improvement retailers at a variety of price points. Permanent fire pits can be built by a homeowner or professionally built by masonry experts.
Install an outdoor fireplace. A step up from a fire pit, outdoor fireplaces not only add warmth, but also improve the ambiance and value of an outdoor entertaining area. Set up outdoor furniture right next to an outdoor fireplace and you have a cozy alternative living room where everyone can gather.
Explore outdoor heating systems. Few things are more effective at warming up outdoor entertaining areas than patio heaters and infrared heaters. These devices are far more effective than average fire pits or fireplaces. One or two heaters will be enough to keep a large entertaining area warm.
Keep cozy options available. Guests should dress warmly, but having a basket of throw blankets, scarves and parkas available for extra warmth while mingling is helpful. Use outdoor rugs to insulate from the cold from the ground up.
Serve hearty foods and beverages. Stews, chilis, soups, and other hot foods can help guests warm themselves up from the inside out. Warmed cider, hot chocolate and mulled wines also can be served to help people stay warm.
Get moving. Incorporate activities that encourage guests to move around and stay warm. Beanbag tosses, dancing and even sports like flag football can keep guests’ blood flowing.