Are you planning a get-together with family and friends this Christmas? After last year’s pared-back parties, lots of us will be looking forward to getting all our favourite people together over the festive season. But what if you’re still keen to keep the gathering outdoors?
Whether you’re just not ready to embrace indoor socialising, or have caught the bug for entertaining outdoors over the last two years, it’s perfectly possible to host a fabulous festive outdoor gathering at this time of year. And the added bonus of keeping the party outside is you won’t have to clean the house once it’s over!
How to host the perfect festive outdoor gathering
If you’re planning an al fresco Christmas, here are some tips to help you host a memorable festive outdoor gathering.
Step 1: Spruce up your outdoor space
The first step is to get your outdoor space ready for guests. In the colder months, it’s easy to neglect the garden a little since you’re not spending as much time out there, so it’s important to make it as presentable as possible before anyone arrives.
Here’s a quick checklist of things you may want to tackle before your garden get-together.
- Empty and hide away outside bins.
- Cut back any overgrown hedges, trees, or foliage.
- Clean ponds and water features.
- Tidy up fallen leaves with a cordless leaf blower such as Warrior Eco’s Battery Powered Leaf Blower.
- Pressure wash patios, decking and paths to improve their appearance and reduce the risk of slipping.
- Plant up containers with winter-flowering bedding plants to give your outdoor space a splash of colour.
Once your garden’s looking good, it’s time to set the scene for your festive outdoor gathering.
Step 2: Set the scene
With just a few simple touches, you can create an atmosphere that really has festive wow factor for your guests.
The most important thing for a wonderful winter garden party is lights. Not only will they make your garden space look unforgettably festive, but they also mean there’s no need to stop celebrating when the sun sets.
For winter-friendly light options that will set the scene, consider a combination of these three formats:
- Candles or electric tealights in mason jars – easy, cheap, and safe from winter wind or children.
- Fairy lights – you can’t go wrong with these! Use them to decorate fences and trellis, or string them overhead to create a carnival atmosphere. You can also use battery-powered strings of fairy lights to highlight a particular plant or tree trunk.
- Solar-powered lights – there’s a wide range of easy-fit solar-powered lights available, allowing you to create an illuminated garden in minutes. As well as making your outdoor space more functional in the winter months, you can use solar lights to lead the eye around the garden, focus on particular areas, or create a cosy ambiance.
You might also like to add a real Christmas tree to your outdoor decorations; check out my post on how to choose the best real Christmas tree for lots of tips.
Step 3: Prepare for any weather
If there’s one thing we know we can’t rely on, it’s the British weather!
However, with a few quick preparations, it’s not something you need to worry about for your festive outdoor gathering.
To counter any chill in the air (or potential rain), it’s worth thinking about:
- Blankets – a blanket is a welcome festive addition that will prevent your guests from shivering and avoid an early end to the party. You could setup a blanket box in the garden, or hand one to each guest as they arrive.
- Mini marquee or gazebo – if you’re worried about rain and have the space for a mini marquee or gazebo, go for it. A temporary shelter provides a place to keep the party going if it rains, and think about how good it will look with your fairy lights…
- Garden room – if you’ve had your eye on a garden room, maybe now’s the time to take the plunge. Not only are they a cost-effective way to gain space without a daunting home extension, but you can also rely on them to be a warm, welcoming space for all your guests if your festivities are in risk of freezing over.
Prepped for any kind of British weather? Let’s get the festive feast sorted.
Step 4: Create a warming menu
When it comes to creating a successful al fresco menu, focus on these three areas.
- Food and drinks you can prepare in advance.
- Options for everyone – check if anyone is vegetarian, vegan, or has allergies.
- Seasonal ingredients and flavours.
Think of large, warming dishes and drinks that can be made before the event and kept warm in a slow-cooker. A hearty homemade chilli or warming stew with dumplings are great options. A generous helping of tasty nibbles will always be popular too. And if you’ve got a fire pit, toasting marshmallows is a must!
When it comes to drinks, think easy and seasonal. Mulled wine, hot chocolate, teas, coffees – it could all be waiting for your guests to help themselves, with festive extras on the side like add-your-own marshmallows or seasonal syrups (it’s all about pumpkin spice and gingerbread this time of year).
The end goal is to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible once your guests start to arrive. They’re here to spend time with you, after all.
Step 5: Enjoy yourself!
By planning ahead with the steps above, you can spend more time enjoying your al fresco festivities and less time running around after your guests. Keep it simple and get organised, and you’ll all be able to enjoy the perfect festive outdoor gathering.
Have you got any more outdoor gathering tips you swear by? Leave a comment and let us know.