I love having friends and family over to my home to entertain, but I especially love to do so during the fall/Thanksgiving season. My home isn’t that large (even though I remodeled my kitchen last year to make it more open), so I have learned to take the entertaining outdoors, to keep from having everyone on top of each other.
I always set up a dessert and drinks table outside. I have a covered pergola, with a large table and chairs, but I usually set my dessert and drinks area out in the open, on an old wooden table, folding table or on my potting bench, so it is easy for everyone to access.
To make a simple outdoor serving table, set up a table or two. (I like to add a tablecloth and runner to make it more interesting.) There are so many things in nature you can use to decorate the area. Fall is one of the best times to use tree branches, dried flowers, pine cones, pumpkins, gourds and fruit. I also like to incorporate clay pots and other garden items. Lighting is important, so I always add fairy lights (very small string lights) and battery-operated candles to my table settings. Party lights strung above the table(s) also are a nice touch.
For the drinks, set out some buckets filled with ice and/or an ice chest for canned and bottled drinks. Next, set up an area for wine and mixed drinks. I like to put iced tea in a huge glass drink container and set it up on a clay pot that has been turned upside down for easy access. Don’t forget coffee, hot chocolate or apple cider. (These can be made ahead and kept in containers that will keep them hot, in case you don’t have an electrical outlet available.)
For the desserts, make sure you don’t put those out until you are ready to eat. Your cake and pie plates should have covers, preferably those that can be used as part of your table decor. In lieu of desserts, you also can make a charcuterie table with cheeses, crackers, meats and fruit.
Invest in an outdoor heater, as well, to help when the temperature starts to drop and lengthen your outdoor entertaining period. I have a large fire pit in my yard that my family enjoys, but you can purchase a small fire pit for less than $100 at many home improvement stores. Even if you live in an apartment or townhome and don’t have a yard, you can set up a table on the balcony or patio to give you extra space for entertaining.
Have a blessed holiday season!
– Donna Broadus is a 28-year resident of Woodstock and the owner of Broadus Realty Group. She posts designing/staging tips on Instagram and Facebook. broadusrealtygrup.com.