Whenever you’re entertaining, the key to success is all in the setting.
It’s even more important when you entertain outside. When you add the charm (and let’s be honest, a little added pressure) of entertaining outside in winter, you need to set the right look and mood.
There’s more than one piece to the puzzle, but there’s an undeniably special magic to an outdoor get-together in winter. The first step is getting your backyard ready for winter entertaining before you plan your party.
Start with your checklist
Anytime you host a party or gathering, there’s nothing better than a checklist to fall back on. It can be a true life-saver when it comes to making sure you don’t miss any of the finer details.
First off, have a look at the state of your backyard before you go sending out invitations to your winter event.
Things to look out for are;
- How is the garden looking?
- Is the lawn neat and tidy?
- What outdoor furniture can you use?
- Could your timber work do with a coat of decking oil or added deck stain?
- Will you need extra lighting?
- Have you thought about adding a new element like a timber feature wall or sculpture?
The most obvious starting point is to have the garden and lawn looking their best. Remember not to leave it to the last minute. A freshly cut lawn looks good but the smell can be a little overpowering for an outdoor event.
Set up your backyard setting
Making sure the stage is all set can start with the decking or pergola.
This is going to be where people will gather to enjoy the day or evening. Making it as warm and inviting as possible is crucial.
You may have missed your chance to look after your decking before summer arrived. That’s when your decking oil or stain is going to do its best work. It doesn’t mean you have to leave it untouched now and wait until springtime.
A simple winter coating of deck stain or oil will keep your decking protected from moisture and it will spruce up the look of the timber. Just remember to avoid overdoing it or you may get a milky look instead of a silky smooth one.
Make more of your timber
If you’re lucky enough to have a timber façade or a timber feature wall in your backyard, make the most of it.
There’s significant evidence that timber has a calming and even warming effect on us. That’s why a stylish timber façade, decking or pergola can set the mood for your outdoor event.
Even the humblest timber feature wall, lattice or screen can help add to the relaxed and inviting feel. Remember the benefits of decking oil or a timber stain can be brought to other timber work throughout your whole garden.
Whatever timber colours you have in your backyard, there is a timber stain that will bring out the qualities of the wood. If you are unsure about how dark the stain or oil is, you can do a test patch or ask for professional advice. Keep in mind that timber colours do vary and can change over time.
Light up your yard
Of all the different elements to think of when you are getting your backyard ready for winter entertaining, the most overlooked can be the lighting.
Even with a daytime gathering, you need to be sure that everyone can see what they’re eating, drinking and who they are talking to.
The winter sunshine dies away quickly as the days get shorter. Rather than being a negative, you can make the most of the darker skies with the simple effect of clever lighting. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or mean putting wiring throughout the backyard.
Trees, fencing, your pergola, (or even the clothesline itself) can be converted into a lighting feature.
Take a timber feature wall and add some tasteful hanging lights or lanterns, that simple feature wall is suddenly transformed your yard into a charming setting.
The key is stay tasteful and not go over the top. Well-lit doesn’t mean using bright lights. With the correct touch of soft lighting, you can create a welcoming atmosphere and a talking point at the same time.
All the hard work you do to tidy up and maintain your garden can be undone if your guests are not comfortable. This is where your outdoor furniture plays a pivotal role.
As the weather gets colder, your furniture can show tell-tale signs of wear and tear.
Many people surrender entirely to the elements and put their outdoor furniture under wraps or store it away until the warmer weather returns.
That is an overreaction and underestimation of just how good it can be to entertain in winter.
Thinking ahead of your event, make sure your furniture is clean, comfortable in the cooler temperatures and that it won’t be acting as a conductor for the damp or cold to creep up to the person sitting there.
A cosy cushion or two goes a long way to making sure a chair feels warm and snugly.
If you have wooden outdoor furniture, give it a touch-up with the right timber stain then choose cushions, blankets or throw overs that work well with your timber colours. Well-matched outdoor furniture, cushions and tableware can do wonders for a welcoming touch.
Time to fire up
There is nothing quite like the enjoyment of sitting around a fire, especially in the winter months.
It is a primal thing that has continued through the ages.
Whether you are setting your get-together as a gathering around the fire or you want to use it as a special end of the evening treat, you still need to plan ahead.
Make sure you have the following;
- Enough dry firewood (and fire-starters if required) or sufficient gas for your outdoor burner
- Plenty of room for all your guests to enjoy the warmth of the fire
- Blankets or spare coats for those who may not be dressed for the occasion
- Marshmallows or mulled wine to add a special festive touch
- A Plan-B if the weather turns ugly and you need to adjourn to indoors
Outdoor entertaining in winter is more a state of mind than anything else. There is a growing popularity of barbequing in winter and Xmas in July in countries south of the equator. It just takes a little imagination.
The beauty of holding your get-together outside means more freedom for people to mingle and relax, while giving you the chance to showcase your whole garden.
The winning ways of winter
Entertaining can sometimes be difficult to organise. There is often the trouble of your intended guests being busy with other engagements. This is especially true in the warmer months when there seem to be invitations flying in from everywhere.
That brings an added bonus to winter entertaining outdoors. There is usually less social activities and you have the chance to break up the feeling of being ‘stuck inside’ and fight the colder, darker weather bringing the spirits down.
Host your own winter gathering in your backyard and see how exciting and rewarding it can be. Your guests will be gladdened and grateful.
The only problem you might have is creating the expectation this will be a yearly event.