Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends, share a good meal, and remember all that we have to be thankful for. A big part of any Thanksgiving celebration is the food. When your Massapequa, NY, home gets too full, why not take the celebration outdoors? Follow these tips to host a delightful dinner in your outdoor kitchen this Thanksgiving:
Enjoying gorgeous fall weather is one of the perks of an outdoor Thanksgiving dinner. But it’s wise to be prepared in case the weather doesn’t cooperate. If your outdoor dining area isn’t covered, consider adding a canopy in preparation for a big gathering. After the sun goes down, the temperature will drop. Make sure your outdoor fireplace is in working condition and you have wood or propane on hand. Adding patio heaters will create warmth if you don’t have a fireplace or fire pit available.
Plan to have extra seating ready so no one is left standing. Relocate chairs and benches from other areas of the yard before guests arrive. You may also need an extra table to accommodate a bigger crowd. Bring out a folding table for the kids to eat at or set up multiple dining locations to accommodate everyone.
Preparing the Meal
Not having enough space is a common complaint when preparing a big meal. To alleviate the pressure of a small food preparation area, take advantage the extra space in your outdoor kitchen. Moving tasks like peeling potatoes and cutting up vegetables outside will free up valuable counter space. The size and available appliances in your outdoor kitchen will determine how much of your meal you can cook outside. Spend less time indoors by altering your menu to include grill-friendly foods such as corn-on-the-cob or veggie skewers.
Set the Mood
Dining al fresco will create a wonderful ambiance for your Thanksgiving dinner. The colorful leaves make the perfect backdrop for a fall-themed meal. To add to the look, consider using boards instead of plates to serve appetizers and side dishes. They’ll look great and won’t break if knocked off a crowded table.
Don’t forget to adjust your outdoor lighting to accommodate extra people and shorter days. Make sure dining areas are well lit, especially if you’ve added extra seating that isn’t normally part of your lighting plan. String lights are an attractive and easy way to illuminate an area. Hanging them in trees, on a pergola, or under an umbrella will add instant atmosphere.
Landscape lighting along the driveway and on pathways will ensure guests can move about safely. To bring in additional light just for the night, place lanterns on tables, walls, and counters. These can be easily relocated after the meal when guests settle down for drinks.
Just because the meal is over, doesn’t mean the night is. Make sure you plan for clean-up and after-dinner entertainment. It’s not as easy to clean up outside in the dark, so planning ahead will make your job easier. Ensure proper lighting, have a garbage available, and work out a system for moving leftovers and dirty dishes back indoors. Don’t leave visitors to fend for themselves while you’re busy tidying up. Set up a spot for guests to gather and relax over after-dinner drinks until you can join them.