All things considered, unless you live in a freezing climate, this might be the year to think about moving Thanksgiving dinner outdoors. Even if your guests need to bundle up a bit, outdoor enthusiasts suggest that a little pre-planning can make it easier than you think, and it may turn out to be the most fun Thanksgiving your family has enjoyed for years.
- Timing counts – Plan your event between the hours of 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm, when you can take advantage of maximum daylight and warmth.
- Choose the site – A patio, front porch or covered deck is ideal, but any backyard space not far from the kitchen will work. Depending upon the weather and the number of guests, consider renting a tent. If you are concerned about harvest table seating, use two or three tables for six.
- Set smart tables – Use your best linens and china as usual, anchoring each with a vase of fall flowers or Thanksgiving centerpieces. If wind is an issue,or even if it isn’t, anchor each napkin to the plate with an apple or a miniature pumpkin.
- Plan the meal – There are two good choices this year: Do all the work yourself or assign guests to bring dishes, as you typically would, or pre-order dinner from a favorite restaurant, ensuring a lovely meal for all with far less work while doing your part to help support struggling local business.
- Plan the fun – Backyard family football, badminton or horseshoes is always fun. Add new activities for kids into the mix, such as a scavenger hunt, pumpkin painting or another Thanksgiving craft.
- Have a back-up plan – The best plans can be upset by rain, so be prepared to move the party indoors if necessary. Dinner tables can still be distanced if you wish, becoming game tables for kids and adults after the meal is over.