outdoor dinner

Outdoor Thanksgiving Dinner: Tips to Make It Happen

Thanksgiving is the time of year when friends and family traditionally gather for a group meal to celebrate the year. People come together to share food, stories, and company as households worldwide give thanks for the good things in life.

This year, however, Thanksgiving will look different as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect households worldwide. Even though Thanksgiving will look different, it doesn’t mean the traditional holiday gathering is necessarily canceled outright.

Experts warn gathering with people outside of your household remains a bad idea, but there are ways you can celebrate Thanksgiving as safely as possible. An outdoor Thanksgiving dinner is the one of the best ways to celebrate the holiday with close family safely, and here are all the tips and tricks you will need to pull it off at your home. 

Why An Outside Thanksgiving

The idea of an outdoor Thanksgiving might or might not sound fun depending on your climate this time of year, but why are experts specifically suggesting an outdoor dinner? Enclosed spaces with a group of people increase transmission chances, but the air can circulate and escape the group when outside, so the risk of transmission is lower.

This is not to say an outdoor gathering is risk-free, but hosting Thanksgiving outside increases the odds of no one getting sick. The CDC has guidelines for celebrating the holidays as safely as possible, including small outdoor gatherings and social distancing. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure we celebrate responsibility so we can bring this pandemic to an end. So, please be sure to adhere to CDC and local guidelines.

Prepare The Space

If your outside area is not generally used for dinners or gatherings, you may have some work to do before turkey day arrives. The weather outside can vary greatly depending on where you live, but clearing aside space for a table and chairs is the first step.

Consider using a few smaller tables rather than one large table. Even though the dinner will be outside, social distancing is still a good idea. You can group people by age, family relation, household or any other metric to ensure everyone has pleasant dinner company while keeping a safe distance. You can also drag your couch or indoor chairs outside as no rules are holding you back. Create the space you want guests to see and enjoy. 

Once you have the seating arrangements set, you must consider comfort. Quality chairs will get the dinner started right, but November is known as a cold month in many places. Outdoor space heaters might be worth renting or buying for future events. Look for outdoor propane heaters to keep guests warm during the meal, but do not leave the inside of your home to freeze as guests will still need to use the restroom, bring in dishes, etc. You can also consider swapping out your old water heater with a propane water heater for more consistent and efficient warm water as we head into winter. Propane is a cleaner-burning fuel that is also safe to store for long periods of time, making it an ideal fuel for eco-friendly households. 

Homemade Decor 

Instead of running to the store to buy pre-made decorations for your outdoor dinner, try making some at home. You can make decorations out of cardboard boxes, colored pencils, and some string with a plethora of online ideas and tutorials to guide your way.

Make this Thanksgiving special and utterly unique to your family by decorating the outside space with your own creations. Home arts and crafts are great ways to spend time with kids or relatives, and everyone has a hand in the decor by the end, which makes it even more special for your family while being eco-friendly and saving money. 

Outsource If Needed

Thanksgiving is already stressful for the host, but the pandemic and outdoor dining’s added stress might make the event too much for one person or family to handle. There is no shame in outsourcing a side dish or dessert if you simply can’t make it yourself. Find a local restaurant or business that offers takeaway dishes, so you can support your local community while providing a perfectly planned dinner for your family. You may even consider a potluck dinner, just be sure to have one server to minimize contact.

There’s no question this year’s Thanksgiving is going to be different, but that doesn’t mean it is automatically worse. Prepare the space for your outdoor Thanksgiving by figuring out the seating layout, then work to make the space comfortable and inviting, even if it means pulling your living room couch outside. Add space heaters if you are in a colder climate and keep your house warm, so guests have a place to escape winter, even if just for a moment. Make your own decor with family and friends to give your Thanksgiving the personal touch. If there is too much on your plate, find a local business to help you with a dish or two. Last, but not least, consider connecting with family and friends via Zoom should they be unable to attend your outdoor Thanksgiving in person.

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