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One of the great joys of life is setting the table in the garden and sharing a long, leisurely outdoor meal with family and friends, and it’s something that you can really miss as the weather turns cooler. But even if you live in a region that experiences chilly winters, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t continue to entertain outdoors during those months too.

Why not enjoy the changing landscape throughout the year rather than just in the summer? Here are some tips on how to make outdoor entertaining in winter a truly enchanting experience.

Light it up

It’s always a good idea to work with nature, rather than against it. If you’re organising an evening party outside in winter, accept that it’s going to get dark earlier than in summer and make a plan.

  • Think about starting the event at 6pm rather than 7-8pm to capitalise on the last precious rays of daylight.
  • Have a range of table illuminators and other lights ready to be switched on or lit as darkness starts to fall. You might even want to light a few slow burning candles at the start of the event so that they begin throwing pools of light as the shadows begin creeping in.
  • Candles can be used in many different ways outdoors. Apart from placing large cylindrical ones on tables, try putting tea lights in recycled jam jars and hanging them from trees by coloured string (be sure to secure them properly as you don’t want any falling on the heads of your guests!). If your garden has a wall, candles lined along the top of it can create a striking effect.

Add some heat and create a focal point

And outdoor fire is a great investment for entertaining whether you live in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia or Tasmania. It can be used not just in winter, but also for lengthening the amount of time you are able to entertain outdoors on chilly summer evenings and into the autumn too.

A fire in the garden, or on a patio, is a stunning feature. Who doesn’t enjoy sitting around an open fire? Jetmaster has some great designs ranging from traditional wood burning and gas fires to more contemporary fire pits.

Think about protecting your outdoor entertaining area with some kind of a permanent structure that will offer your guests – and also your furniture and fire – a shield from the elements. If you install a fire pit, it will need to have some kind of windbreak around it to prevent embers from being carried into nearby brush.

Use recycled natural materials like stone, slate and terracotta to help the structure blend into the landscape. You might want to include glass side panels or a translucent polycarbonate roof to make the most of all available light.

Warming fare

Who really wants to eat cold shrimp salad outside on a winter’s day? A jolly, crackling outdoor fire demands tasty, hearty food and warming, restorative drinks.

  • If you want a change from the traditional barbeque-type menu of steak or ribs, why not try some spicy alternatives that will also add some additional heat to the occasion? Go Tex-Mex with beef fajitas and a hot chilli sauce, or take inspiration from South East Asia and offer your guests warming bowls of chicken pho followed by different kinds of sticky, satisfying satay.
  • Think about serving some hot drinks as people arrive, perhaps mulled wine infused with spices, or a warm apple cider. You could substitute apple or pear juice to create a non-alcoholic option.

Go with a throw

Place wool or fleece blankets on the backs of chairs. These are great for people to drape over their knees or wrap around their shoulders if they are getting cold. Choose fabrics in bright colours like reds and pinks to help brighten a grey day or dark evening.

With the right equipment, and a bit of extra planning, outdoor entertaining in winter can be one of the most charming ways to host family and friends.

Our fireplace experts in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra, and regional centres, can assist you with more information.