Give thanks, outdoors: 11 ways to host a safe and special holiday

For anyone planning to host Thanksgiving this year, the biggest dilemma isn’t whether to top the sweet potatoes with marshmallows: It’s how to keep everyone safe and warm. If your family is choosing to scale back the invite list and move the feast outdoors, here are a few ways to make sure this Thanksgiving is still a warm affair.

Heating and Seating

1. First, plan to host the celebration a little (or a lot) earlier than usual to take advantage of daytime warmth.

2. Instead of gathering around one expansive table, spread the dining out across several spaces. While folding tables and chairs are convenient, don’t overlook seating that’s already in place, such as lounge chairs positioned around a fire table. This arrangement offers built-in personal space, and the fire provides another crucial element: heat. For other spaces, bring out the patio heaters to keep everyone cozy.

3. Unless you have a covered porch or patio, acknowledge the chance of rain. Your setup (or backup plans) should include pop-up tents, canopies or simply rescheduling.


4. Even if you’re going for a relaxed vibe, consider making it a sit-down rather than a buffet-style meal. If you plate the meals individually in the kitchen, it will be easier to keep the food warm and keep contact limited.

5. If you offer self-serve items, like appetizers or bread, keep them nice and toasty outdoors by serving on a Hot/Cold Stainless Steel Tray.

6. Don’t shy away from using your shatterproof melamine for Thanksgiving – at least not this year. Nowadays, this rough-and-tumble dinnerware and serveware is nearly indistinguishable from porcelain and stone. Acrylic drinkware adds similar peace of mind.


7. Rather than trying to make this Thanksgiving feel like the indoor affair of years past, embrace the relaxed outdoor vibe and cook your turkey, corn, sweet potatoes and other dishes right on the grill.

8. Set up a bar devoted to warm beverages, with insulated dispensers filled with coffee, hot chocolate, apple cider and hot water for tea, along with add-ons like marshmallows and whipped cream for the young and young at heart. Options like mulled wine can offer something a little more sophisticated.

9. Even a daytime gathering calls for lighting that will make any space feel more intimate. Dress tables with candles in hurricanes or lanterns that don’t require monitoring, or anchor each dining area with Meteor Lights, hanging lanterns or even outdoor chandeliers.

10. Make a space feel even cozier by creating a perimeter of planters or large lanterns.

11. Play up the outdoor environment with yard games. Challenging each other to after-dinner duels will bring everyone together while still allowing some distance, and might even help work off a few servings of pie.

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