As a long-time Alaska resident, I’m used to busting out the chunky blankets shortly after Labor Day. The summers are magical but short, and we usually see our first snowfall by early October. But that doesn’t mean that I or my statesmen are ready to retreat inside—especially during a pandemic that’s prevented us from socializing indoors. That’s why I’ve made it my personal mission to find ways to entertain outdoors well into the fall and winter.
Whether it’s a gathering in a garden or backyard, on a porch or patio, or maybe even in the driveway, the key is to make the space warm, cozy, and inviting for guests. Here are all the essentials you’ll need if you’re planning to entertain outdoors when the temps drop—even if you’re not living in Alaska.
1. SUNSGNE 25 Feet Outdoor Christmas String Lights,
Okay, so string lights won’t technically keep you or your guests warm, but they will provide a cozy vibe. This set features frosted globe bulbs that emit a soft, warm glow.
2. Ruggable Outdoor Nomada Navy Rug, $119+
One often overlooked accessory for entertaining in the fall is a good outdoor rug. It puts a little more space between the cold ground and your feet, and also just ties a space together well. We particularly like ones from Ruggable, because they’re machine washable—no need to panic if someone spills wine.
Place a few of these teensy personal fireplaces around the table to guarantee that nobody gets a cold seat. It’s easy to use, food safe (perfect for s’mores), and made of sturdy, durable concrete.
4. MalloMe Marshmallow Roasting Sticks, $9.99
And speaking of s’mores, if you’re going to be sit around a fire pit or campfire, you better have supplies for the sweet treats. You could use any old stick, but these skewers definitely make the job easier. They come in a pack of five and are color-coordinated so guests can keep track of theirs easily.
5. Breeo X Series Smokeless Fire Pit, $349
If you have the space, a fire pit is essential for outdoor entertaining in colder months. This unique centerpiece is especially good for hosting because it keeps smoke at bay so your guests won’t leave smelling of smoke. You can also replace the standard rim with the brand’s Searplate to cook steaks or vegetables, or even warm up a pot of cider right on the fire pit. Choose between the stainless steel or Corten steel finish, the latter of which develops a lovely natural patina over time.
Though this lantern looks like those used on the railroads, it’s surprisingly modern. It charges via a USB cable so you don’t have to worry about needing a power outlet and can move it around the space easily. The lantern can run for more than 100 hours on low or three to five on high, too, so you can stay out as late as you want.
7. Tri 21 The Pack, $99.99
Giant Jenga, corn hole, and ladder golf are all perennial yard game favorites. This game from Tri 21, however, is likely one your friends haven’t yet played. This washer-toss game pulls elements of familiar games, but also has unique rules of its own. And as a bonus, moving around while playing the game will help keep you warm. Part of the proceeds also help those with Down Syndrome, which is also known as Trisomy 21.
8. West Elm Oversized Metal Candle,
If you live somewhere where there's a burn ban or it’s not safe to use a fire pit (like an apartment balcony), another option for a campfire-like ambience is lighting some big cozy candles. We particularly like West Elm's oversized jar with 10 wicks—the most we've ever seen.
9. Outer Bug Shield Blanket - Pinstripe, $125
Outer’s throw blanket is pre-treated with bug repellent to keep mosquitoes, flies, and more away. It’s safe for pets and won’t trigger allergies or skin irritation. Keep one or two handy for cozy, bug-free comfort.
This bar cart is a nice way to keep cold drinks at hand (especially if you don’t want to move too far from the fire pit). It even comes with a built-in bottle opener and cap catcher. You can choose between nine vibrant colors, including mint, blush, and lime.
11. Ooni Koda 16 Gas Powered Pizza Oven, $599
Pizza night can be every night with this oven from Ooni. It can cook pies up to 16 inches in 60 seconds, so it’s easy to have everyone customize their own pizzas. It’s not only a major comfort food, but the oven also produces a lot of ambient heat that can help keep the area warm.
Another way to stay toasty outdoors, this patio heater throws off a surprising amount of warmth. And because it’s on wheels, you can move it around easily. It comes in black to complement any decor.
13. Rumpl Beer Blanket, $8
Your beer should be cold. Your hands shouldn’t. This packable koozie from Rumpl comes in 10 fun designs, including the solids, dots, and daisies.
14. Kelty Galactic Down Blanket, $99.95
Cozy and compressible, this 550-fill down blanket from Kelty will help keep you warm as you gaze at the cosmos that inspired it.
This heavy-duty steel log rack helps keep wood handy, and comes with a durable polyester cover to keep logs dry. It can store up to 1/2 face-cord of wood, so you definitely won’t run out anytime soon.
Because Yeti’s drinkware has double-wall vacuum insulation, they do a fantastic job of keeping drinks cold or hot without transferring that energy to your hands. They’re also dishwasher safe and near indestructible.
17. Zippo Heatbank Rechargeable Hand Warmers, $39.90
This rechargeable hand warmer from Zippo goes above and beyond the usual HotHands. Not only is it more sustainable, but it doubles as a power bank, so guests can juice up their devices all night long. Hey, if it's good enough to use while skiing, it's definitely good enough for your backyard.
Whether you're in the mood for some soup-simmering, leaf-peeping, or nothing at all, your dream weekend awaits...View Guide