Winter doesn’t have to be a completely miserable time for you and those you care about most. It’s no secret that temperatures drop significantly during the winter, but with the proper planning and preparation, you could just make this winter a great one, filled with long-lasting, fun-filled memories.

Create a cozy atmosphere

Light up your gathering space. Electric lanterns or candles placed on tables and strings of hanging lights can create a rustic, homey glow.

Offer seasonal (and easy-to-serve) fare. From cinnamon and pumpkin to cranberries and ginger, fall and winter offer a delectable flavor palette. Plan your seasonal menu around food staples. Make a giant batch of chili and offer an assortment of toppings. Have a dessert tray filled with cinnamon rolls, pumpkin rolls, pies, fudge, cake, and more. Hosting an outdoor gathering can be a lot more work than an inside event. If you’re planning on being outside for your gathering, choose items that are easy to prep and serve.

Have a warm beverage bar – and designate one person to be your bartender. User thermal carafes for hot water to make hot chocolate (using single-serve packets), warm cider, coffee or one of your favorite adult beverages. Use single-use cups and have your guests write their names on them so that no one picks up the wrong one. If you’re not comfortable serving, ask your guests to bring their own favorite hot beverage along with copies of recipes that they can share with everyone.

Keep Your Guests Warm

Set up outdoor patio heaters. Keep the chilly air at bay by renting – or buying – outdoor patio heaters. These units are specifically designed to radiate heat outward, where people are gathered. This means that you can benefit from the heater’s warmth without having to stand too close to it.

Build an outdoor fire. One of the quintessential sounds of a chilly evening is the sound of wood crackling and the smoky scent of an outdoor fire. This is a great way to add a festive glow to your soiree while keeping visitors nice and warm. From store-bought to homemade, you have a lot of options. Safety should always be your number one priority.

Have extra blankets on hand. Help your friends and family ward off the chill by having a stack of blankets on hand. You can encourage them to bring  their own as well, but it’s nice to have extras should someone forget – or want to use another one.

Outdoor Winter Game and Activity Ideas

Host a backyard game tournament. Cornhole or ladder golf? Enjoy a little friendly competition with your guests where both kids and adults can get in on the action.

Plan a scavenger hunt. You can set up brackets and offer a grand prize to the winners.

Make an outdoor movie theater. What better way to enjoy a night under the stars than watching your favorite seasonal holiday movie? The setup is pretty easy. All you need are the following:

  • A projector
  • A plain white sheet or projector screen
  • A media player (DVD player, computer or laptop. Some projectors offer inputs for streaming sticks (just make sure your Wi-Fi reaches to where you’re planning to set up outside)
  • An extra speaker
  • An extension cord or power strip