How to host an outdoor-friendly holiday get together 

Another 2020 event, another major shift thanks to COVID. 

While we continue to practice social distancing and not gather indoors to ensure the safety of ourselves and those we love, we’re all likely going to be making adjustments to how we celebrate the holiday season with our friends and families. 

As a healthcare professional, I suggest following the current guidelines laid out by the CDC. This changes quickly so here is a link to their website.

If you feel comfortable hosting a small group here’s the good news: Turkey and pie are not canceled. We’ll just be enjoying them outdoors!

Before you cancel your annual holiday get-together, check out these tips on how you can host a safe (and FUN!) outdoor holiday gathering. 

Prepare your patio (or yard)

  • Dress your backyard for the season with hardy mums and plenty of pumpkins and gourds. (And of course, a Christmas tree!) 
  • To make mealtime safer, rather than one big, long table, break up seating into smaller parties by household. If you don’t want to purchase a ton of outdoor furniture, consider renting from a local company 
  • Invest in outdoor heaters and put out cozy throws to help keep the chill off.
  • Consider a pop-up canopy so Christmas can go on, rain or shine. (Just make sure there’s still plenty of airflow)

Get a little creative with the menu

  • Give your oven the day off and find ways to keep your cooking outdoors, too
  • Fire up the grill for the turkey and sides like sweet potatoes and corn
  • If you’re feeling brave, there’s also the deep fryer option for the turkey
  • Slow cookers are great for a number of  sides, including potato gratin and corn spoon bread
  • And whenever possible, aim to offer individual portions, so no one’s reaching into shared dishes

Plan some outdoor entertainment

  • Lawn games like bocce ball, cornhole, croquet, and badminton can be played while maintaining social distancing—so go ahead and set up a family tournament 
  • Plan a nature walk or outdoor scavenger hunt to help shake off the post-meal stupor.
  • And if TV-watching TV is a tradition, a video projector can help you watch football, home movies, or a Friends Christmas marathon
  • Depending on how many kids will be attending, you’ll thank your past self for also putting out holiday craft activities or a holiday scavenger hunt for the little ones.

Bonus tips:

  • Stick to disposable cookware, dishes, and cutlery
  • Offer hot beverages like cocoa, mulled cider or wine, and hot water for tea. (You can also put out rum or bourbon so guests can craft their own hot cocktails, and extra add-ins like cinnamon sticks, marshmallows, and whipped cream to let guests get creative)
  • Consider keeping celebrations to the daytime hours, when it might be a little bit warmer and more comfortable to spend time outside

Above all, remember that this season is about joy, gratitude, and togetherness. Despite everything that’s happened this year, we still have plenty to celebrate. Thankfully, we can do so safely, and keep our health at the top of the list of things we’re grateful for.

Happy Holidays!