5 Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner Outdoors

Plus some clever products that will help with set-up and keep guests (and food!) warm.

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June 30, 2021

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Fall themed holiday table setting arrangement for a seasonal party, glasses, pumpkins, candles, field flowers

Photo by: Ekaterina Senyutina/Getty Images

Ekaterina Senyutina/Getty Images

Whether you live somewhere that’s warm or chilly come Thanksgiving, it’s totally possible to have your turkey day feast outside if you’re smart about it. Unlike having an indoor meal, you’ll have to take some measures to keep the food warm and protect everyone against the elements. Because let’s be real, people will want their stuffing fix whether it’s rain or shine. Below, we’ve rounded up some tips and products that’ll help you pull off a successful, seasonal al fresco meal.

1. Set Up Several Separate Lightweight Tables

If you don’t have a large outdoor table, it’s a good idea to set up several tables. We recommend purchasing inexpensive, lightweight folding card tables and arranging them in a loose circular formation to help conversation flow. Dress up the tables with your favorite tablecloths and arrange some folding chairs around them, or simply bring your indoor chairs outside.

2. Keep the Food and Beverages Warm

If you live in a cool climate, your food will cool down surprisingly quickly when you take it outside. And no one wants to eat stone-cold mashed potatoes. It’s worth using serving dishes with lids and investing in a few different insulated serving dishes for each table. You might want to get some insulated glasses, too, for warm beverages (tea and piping hot cocktails are a great way to keep people warm).

3. Oh, and Keep the People Warm, Too

Warm diners are happy diners, so consider stashing a few washable blankets at each table. If you want to really up the ante, invest in some matching seasonal colored blankets and drape one over the back of each chair. One or two heat lamps are also a great investment. You can reuse the blankets and heat lamps well into the fall as you entertain outside.

4. Set the Mood with Magical Ambiance

Vases of flowers and twinkly lights will go a long way. But here are a few more ways to really stun everyone. First, if you’re dining at night, you’ll want to make sure the tables are well-lit. Chic battery-operated lanterns placed on each table will do the trick. Second, a firepit is a great way to pull your dining scene together and provide more light and warmth.

5. Protect Your Eating Area from Rain

Not to rain on the parade, but unless you’re hosting Thanksgiving on your porch or have an indoor backup plan, it’s a good idea to put a plan in place for inclement weather. Lightweight pop up tents are a smart way to protect against raindrops.

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