Originally Published on January 13, 2022. Last Updated on August 10, 2023.
Your backyard doesn’t have to go into hibernation in the winter months. Whether you want to throw a casual wintertime get-together or a cold-weather hang with cocktails, you can host an affair to remember no matter where you live. So grab a hot toddy, and let’s start planning an epic outdoor winter party.
Stay Warm and Cozy
Warmth is an essential element for any cold weather party, so ensure you have plenty of heat sources. Here are a few outdoor winter party ideas to keep your guests warm:
- Bonfire: There’s nothing like a roaring fire to keep everyone comfortable while providing a welcoming ambiance. Before you host a winter bonfire party, check your community’s laws to see if you’re allowed to light a fire in your backyard.
- Fire pit table: If you want to avoid dealing with the maintenance of building a winter bonfire, a fire pit table is a terrific alternative. It’s safe, easy to maintain, and built to withstand the elements. Plus, you’ll have plenty of table space for trays of hot cocoa and s’mores supplies.
- Heat lamps: If you want to hold a winter party festival on your patio or deck, consider getting a few heat lamps. They’re adjustable and low-maintenance—just like fire pit tables. Gather your outdoor furniture around these lamps so everyone can stay warm while socializing.
Set Up Your Party Space
Once you figure out your heat situation, it’s time to make the area comfortable.
- Avoid using metal chairs. They pull heat away from the body, meaning you and your guests would be sitting on cold chairs the entire time. Instead, choose all-weather outdoor furniture that doesn’t conduct heat so everyone to sit comfortably.
- Supply blankets and outdoor pillows. When everyone is facing the fire, their backs are exposed. Letting guests snuggle into blankets and pillows will keep them warm from head to toe.
- String up extra lights. Winter days are short, so you’ll need additional outdoor lighting to ensure the area isn’t too dark.
- Hang outdoor curtains or screens. They’ll act as windbreaks, keeping heat in and preventing smoke from being blown into your guests’ faces if you have a fire going.
- Cover your outdoor area. Use an awning or tent to protect your guests from the elements.
Put Together a Self-Serve Bar
Take one thing off your plate and set up a self-serve bar. Fill crockpots with classic winter drinks like apple cider, hot chocolate, and coffee. Then place bottles of vodka, Irish cream, and bourbon nearby. That way, guests can make their own boozy beverage or stick to a mocktail.
Choose a Theme for Your Winter Party
While having a theme for your party isn’t required, it makes things a lot more fun. It also gives you a solid foundation for selecting decorations, food and drink options, etc. Here are some winter-theme party ideas to consider for your upcoming get-together:
- Winter wonderland costume party: Guests can dress as popular characters like Jack Frost or Elsa or general winter-themed costumes like penguins or snowflakes.
- Movie night: Set up your outdoor home theater and play wintery movies like Happy Feet or Fargo.
- Wine o’clock: Hire a sommelier to host a winter wine tasting by the fire—don’t forget the charcuterie board.
- Hot tub party: Have a hot tub? Invite some friends over to warm up and relax.
- Tropical party: If cold weather isn’t your thing, host a South Beach-inspired hang. Serve café con leche spiked with rum, pull up your Gloria Estefan playlist, and drape colorful blankets over your Adirondacks to turn your outdoor living room into a tropical paradise.
Winter Family Party Activity Ideas
If you’re still looking for party ideas to keep guests entertained, these family activities will help bring fun to your get-together:
- Backyard scavenger hunt: The first person (or team) to follow the clues and find the prize wins.
- Get crafty: Fill a picnic table with winter-themed supplies and let your guests make fun crafts. You can display them as added party decorations when they’re complete, then send them home with guests as souvenirs.
- S’mores party: If you’re going to have a fire going outside, serve up a platter of s’mores fixings along with a couple of creative additions like peanut butter cups and chocolate chip cookies. Compete against the kids or other families to see who makes the ultimate s’mores treat.