Entertaining in winter - Outdoor parties in the colder months


In our beautiful city of Perth here in Western Australia, a summer BBQ or outdoor dinner party is a given.  With our wonderful, warm climate, guaranteed sunshine and balmy summer evenings it’s easy to entertain outdoors for most of the year.   But just because the sun has gone down, along with the temperature, that doesn’t mean we need to hibernate through the cold winter months.  By making a few adjustments, re-thinking the food and drinks we serve, providing a little bit of forethought and preparation, we can party on right through the year, regardless of the temperature.

Your main concern when entertaining outdoors in the colder weather will obviously be how to keep your guests warm.  Read on to pick up a few tips on how to keep them not only warm, but cosy, snuggly and content well into the night.  With a little bit of ingenuity you can host a successful outdoor winter gathering that will be revered by your friends right up until next winter, when you can do it all again.

No. 1 - Forewarned is forearmed

Tell your guests in advance that the party is being held outside. By giving your friends the heads up they will be able to come prepared.  Beanies, gloves and cosy, warm clothing is the key to a comfortable evening.

No. 2 - Go with the Throw

To keep your guests extra warm and cosy have some blankets on hand to wrap around them during the evening.  Wool or fleece is best and the brighter the better.  Blankets in reds, oranges and yellows will not only keep them snug but add to the cheery atmosphere.   Pop them on the backs of the chairs where your guests will be sitting.  They will love you for them!

No. 3 - Some like it hot!

Here in Perth a lot of backyard patios or decks won’t have the space for an open pit fire so a freestanding portable fireplace such as a chiminea, is the ideal answer.  Not too expensive, in clay or cast iron, and designed to enhance the appearance and appeal of your outdoor entertaining area, there's nothing more inviting than a warm flickering fire!  As this will be the focal point of the evening, make sure you have some marshmallows on hand for later on.  If your garden can accommodate an open pit fire, go for it!  This will create a wonderful atmosphere and probably encourage a singsong or two.

Please ensure your guest's and your neighbours’ safety at all times.

No. 4 - Food for thought

BBQ, pizza, and warm hearty food is the obvious choice for a winter outdoor party.  But Tex-mex, spicy chilli, satay or curries and hotpots would also go down a treat.  Hot baked spuds on the open fire, hotdogs and marshmallows on sticks will all add to the atmosphere of your winter wonderland gathering. 

No. 5 -   Keep Calm its time for Mulled Wine!

Just as important as the food and the heat source, will be the drinks you serve at your outdoor party.  Delicious mulled wines, liqueurs and warm, spiced, apple ciderswill warm your guests up on arrival and add to the ambience.  Hot chocolate or hot toddies will also be most welcome towards the end of the evening and will, no doubt, go down a treat.

No. 6 - If music be the food of love

Music is important and can make or break a good night.  If possible have an interesting mix of music streaming outside during the evening.  A little space for dancing might also be worth thinking about.   If you can get your guests moving - they won't feel the cold at all. 

No. 7 - Better to light a candle than curse the darkness

 The lighting is going to be another important element of your outdoor party this winter.  Your guests will not only need some illumination in getting to the back of the house on arrival, but adequate lighting in the party area will also be needed throughout the evening. This will set the mood and add to the cozy feel of the night.  Candles can be used in many different ways to enhance the atmosphere from tea lights in jam jars placed strategically around the garden to slow-burning table candle decorations.

Another little tip is to consider starting your party earlier in the evening so your guests arrive before the darkness and the witching hour sets in.

Entertaining outdoors in the winter months calls for some preparation for sure.  But the results will be worth it and I guarantee your guests will love it.  An outdoor get-together in the winter is a charming way to entertain. 

And let's be honest - anyone can throw a few shrimps on the barbie in the summer here in WA.