How to Throw an Outdoor Winter Party In Comfort and Style

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If you love to throw parties for friends and family, don’t let the winter weather stop you! Hosting an outdoor affair in the winter months can be cozy and inviting, no matter the temperature. 

As long as you plan for food and fun, your guests will enjoy the chance to be outside experiencing the magic of the season. Here are the most critical elements to consider when planning your winter party.

Warm Outside

Photo: SolStock

Have Covered Areas

No matter the weather in your area, an outdoor winter party needs at least one covered area. If you don’t have a covered porch already, consider using tents or tarps to create this space. If you’re expecting precipitation, make sure your covering is waterproof—camping structures make great party spots, so check out the summer gear sales and stock up.

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Patio Heater

Provide Heaters or Fire

Now that you have the covering, you’ll need to keep the area underneath nice and warm. Heaters are an efficient way to warm up a fairly large space. Many models come with wheels so that you can move them around the party as needed. If you have open-air spaces or your tents have high enough ceilings, using fire pits can be a great way to provide warmth, entertainment (s’mores!), and ambiance. Make sure you designate someone to stoke the fire regularly and monitor for safety.

Lights Outside

Photo: AleksandarNakic

Add Plenty of Lights

Aside from warmth and protection from the elements, the ambiance is the most important part of a winter party. You want guests to feel cozy, warm, and dazzled when they attend your outdoor affair. Using various lighting options around the space is a straightforward and efficient way to create this atmosphere. String small lights from the poles of your canopy or tent to create a glow from above. Group lanterns with real or LED candles on all of the tables and consider lining any walkways with solar stake lights or lanterns as well. You can even incorporate lighting into an activity—give everyone sparklers to wave as they dance and sing towards the end of the night. Keep the lighting soft and magical for that cozy feeling.

Carefully Plan Food and Beverage

Your party menu should reflect the season. Shop around at local vendors to see what special items are available in your area, and plan food and drink accordingly. Fresh citrus is a winter luxury and can be used in a signature drink or as a garnish for appetizers. Make sure to offer enough warm/hot items to keep guests toasty. You’ll need a plan for maintaining temperature, so rent or purchase chafing dishes and electric warming plates. If you’re short on space, big pots of mulled wine or stew that guests serve themselves is an easy option. Also, you should consider that guests may be wearing mittens or bulky clothing in colder climates, so don’t serve food that requires a dainty touch!


Provide Backup Blankets

Guests local to your area should know which clothing and accessories are necessary for an outdoor winter party, but make sure to have backups just in case! If it’s cold enough for mittens, hats, and scarves, put out a basket with extras that guests are welcome to use in case they forgot their own or spill a drink mid-party. Similarly, place groups of blankets around the space so that chilly guests can grab one as needed. You can even use these items as part of the party décor—hang mittens and hats from clothespins on wires draped around the tent or create color groupings of blankets to make otherwise dull corners of the patio pop.

Capitalize on the Natural Backdrop

Your space may not be lush and colorful during the winter months, but the natural outdoor space during this season has plenty to offer. Winter night skies are often clear and crisp, so consider having a bench with blankets and binoculars set up for prime stargazing. Bare branches are a great place for hanging faux lantern lights, while dormant lawns can serve as a great fire pit location. Instead of hiding the natural state of things during winter, use it to create additional spaces and points of interest for your guests!

Whether you’re inviting close family or a large group of friends, these winter party tips are sure to make your event warm and memorable, even when the temperature drops.

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