If winter sends you scurrying indoors to wait for the first signs of tulips, we’re about to give you plenty of reasons to unpack the patio furniture and throw your next party outside! Let is snow, let is blow, let those temperatures drop – with these hot party tips, you’ll be celebrating the season in style. Yes, even right here in central New Jersey where summer beach parties are all the rage but winter in the back yard…? Not so much.
Here are some things you can add to your outdoor space to make winter entertaining enjoyable. Some are fairly simple additions, and other require a bit of planning and skillful execution. Either way, you’ll be ready for your next mid-winter soiree.
Gather ‘Round A Fire Pit
This can be one of the simplest ways to add warmth to a chilly evening and to open up your entertaining options. A patio fire pit is relatively small and portable enough to move around (or even to be stored in a shed when not in use.) They’re easy to use and easy to clean, and can serve as a gathering spot, a way to toast your toes, and even to prepare food.
For a more permanent and elegant option, you can have a custom fire pit designed and built to suit your style and complement your landscape. Natural stone fire pits look lovely all year long and are perfect winter entertaining companions.
A fire pit make a wonderful central point for a gathering of family or friends, for sharing a drink or a hot chocolate, for playing cards or games, and for enjoying conversation.
It also offers a nice open fire for cooking. Think past s’mores and get creative! Grab a large pot with a lid and bring some chicken soup to the party. Serve up fondue with big chunks of warm, soft bread. Or simply keep some warm, mulled cider ready for pouring into oversized mugs. Once you enjoy the warmth and pleasures of a fire pit, you might just wish spring would hold off a little longer.
Add A Fireplace
If you’re looking to get more serious about your fire source, a natural stone fireplace is a great option. It can be designed and built to perfectly complement your home’s style and to blend beautifully with your landscape. It can even increase the value of your home.
A fireplace can add even more heat, and serve as an open-fire oven for more serious chefs. If you’re considering grilling, rotisserie, or even throwing a hand-tossed pizza into your fireplace, let your landscape architect know so that it can be designed around your entertaining needs.
A fireplace has the advantage of being a focal point, as well as a heat and food source, and can easily become the central showpiece of an outdoor living room. Imagine comfortable outdoor seating with plenty of pillows and warm blankets, flickering lanterns, a bottle of wine on a table by your side, all set atop a beautiful natural stone patio.
Once you’ve roasted your first chestnut over and open fire, there will be no going back to the ordinary!
Don’t Neglect The Patio
Most back yards include a patio, but if you’re serious about outdoor entertaining then a patio is the foundation on which all your future parties will be built. The last thing you want is your guests slipping on ice and snow or getting stuck in the mud and muck of a warmer day. That’s why it’s important to design a patio that will not only be beautiful but also functional.
Natural stone is the natural hero of the occasion, with myriad design options, from regular to irregular stone shapes, large or small, and color options galore. Choosing the right stone is key, since some types provide a more non-slip surface than others, which is important to ensure safe entertaining.
Your patio stones should be selected with the same care that you might select hardwood for your living room. After all, the floor may not be the star of the show, but it certainly sets the stage.
A pergola or covered patio is a wonderful addition if you plan to entertain outdoors during any season. It can be especially effective during winter as a barrier against breezes, mist or snow.
There are plenty of advantages to adding a structure above your patio. It’s the ideal place from which to hang overhead lighting, which is going to be key on those dark winter evenings. (For summer entertaining, simply include a ceiling fan for additional cooling!)
It also helps shield whatever is beneath, which may be you and your guests, but can also include other items like outdoor furniture, candles, or décor. In fact, a simple roof structure can help you create a truly inviting outdoor living room, complete with sofas and tables, lighting, plants, a television, a cozy area rug for additional comfort and warmth, and more.
Your new outdoor room can include blankets and pillows for getting cozy, as well as outdoor heaters that can be wall-mounted, ceiling-mounted or standalone. Imagine enjoying the first snow of the season from this open space, watching the flakes cascade silently around you, so close you can reach out and touch them, all while you’re cozy and comfortable in your new outdoor room.
Choose The Right Plants
You’ve added a fire or heat source, found the perfect seating, decorated with your favorite colors and textures, prepared the snacks and are ready for winter entertaining outside. In fact, we bet you’ve fallen in love with this dream room already! It may not have windows or walls, but it has everything else, and the view is vast, your full yard right there in front of you. If the idea of gazing out over that drab winter landscape leaves you cold, it’s time to change your thinking.
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a bland view beyond your cozy entertaining space. Choose the right plants and you can enjoy color, texture, and motion all year long. It’s common to choose plants for spring bloom and summer color, but there’s a lot you can do during winter, too.
We’ve highlighted some of these plants before, including Red Twig Dogwood, which sounds like a tree but isn’t. It’s a shrub that will fill your garden with greenery during warm months, then delight you with its bright red branches during winter. It’s cousin the Yellow Twig Dogwood will do the same in yellow.
Maiden Grass and Miscanthus are two winter options that will add subtle color, but more notably, will add height, texture, motion and depth to your landscape. Their fluffy fronds are charming covered in snow and they’ll dance and sway in every breeze.
From purple cabbage to the red berries of holly plants, you’ll never look at winter the same way.
Outdoor entertaining isn’t a pleasure reserved for summer. With a little bit of planning and the right additions to your landscape and outdoor space, you can host magnificent and gorgeous winter events outside. If you’d like to explore winter outdoor entertaining options, or simply want to enjoy your outdoor space more all year long, contact us for a consultation. We’d love to make your outdoor dreams come true!