Thanksgiving was originally celebrated outdoors, and there’s no better time like the present to tap into our roots.
We’ve already covered how to hunt, clean, and cook a wild turkey. Now it’s time to share some tips on taking your turkey meal al fresco. Whether you decide to go low-key or share the day with family and friends, there’s plenty of fun to be had.
Here’s your guide to throwing a successful Thanksgiving meal outside.
Gathering Together Safely for Thanksgiving
Deciding on who to invite is the first step, but getting together safely is a close second. The CDC says if you’re planning on celebrating Thanksgiving with friends and family, keep the gathering small. Setting expectations beforehand can also prove to be helpful and alleviate some stress. Furthermore, you and your company know what to expect from the day.
Additionally, following the CDC’s guidelines for preventing the spread of coronavirus is very important. Remind everyone to wash their hands frequently, plus clean and disinfect surfaces often. The CDC just released a new request as we enter the holiday season. The organization’s asking families to avoid singing, loud music, or speaking loudly during holiday festivities.
Create a Memorable Meal Setting
Your table-scape will be one of the first things your guests see, so make it one to remember. Use decorations that you can easily find in your yard. A big leaf, pinecones, or maybe even some wild berries will add a nice fall touch to the table.
Pumpkins and gourds aren’t just for Halloween. Use these decorative squashes to your advantage. Some mums and twinkle lights would also add a nice touch to your outdoor space.
Offer Hot Beverages
A hot beverage can go a long way to help keep your guests warm. Create a beverage station using crock pots or thermoses to keep drinks hot, like cocoa, mulled cider or wine, and hot water for tea. Add bourbon or rum to the station for the adults and whipped cream and marshmallows for the kids.
Cook Your Meal Outside
Plan on cooking some of your Thanksgiving meal outside. Maybe you decide to deep-fry your bird, fire up the smoker, or even give the grill a shot. Not only will this free up oven space, but it will also allow you to be outside with your guests.
The easiest way to your cook your turkey outside is to treat your grill like an oven, Cooks Illustrated says. But a smoked turkey could be a crowd-pleaser. Expert tip: brine your turkey before had to lock in that moisture.
Additionally, vegetables are easy to cook over an open fire. Simply cut and season your veggies, then wrap them in foil and throw them on the grill. Just be sure to time these sides accordingly so they’re not under-or-over cooked.
Pre-cooking will also come in handy. Make some side dishes ahead of time and put them in grill-safe containers to reheat. If that’s not an option, simply reheat them in the oven and bring them outside once you’re ready to eat.
Keep Your Food Warm
I don’t know about you, but I love a good, hot Thanksgiving meal. Serve your turkey meal out of slow cookers (as mentioned above for drinks) or invest in chafing dishes. If you really want to show off, a carving station complete with heat lamps will for sure do the trick.
Encourage Guests to Dress Appropriately
Fancy arctic is a thing when it comes to keeping warm at your Thanksgiving gathering. Layering up will be key if the forecast calls for a cold day. This means a jacket, hats, gloves, and scarves.
But if the weather takes a warmer turn, layers are always easier to take off than put on.
Keep Your Company Warm
Whether you’re planning on taking your festivities deep into the night, or just want to keep your guests comfortable, creating some sort of heat source outside is important. Starting a bonfire can prove a double purpose – one for cooking and also for warmth.
Heat lamps are also another good idea. They might be a little expensive but are worth the investment. Offering guests hand warmers are also a thoughtful touch.
Set-Up Outdoor Entertainment
Moving around after eating a turkey feast might not be on your radar, but have some sort of activity or entertainment for your guests beforehand will help your day run smoothly. Set up games like badminton, bocce ball, or cornhole, that can be easily played while social distancing.
Gathering chairs around the bonfire to roast marshmallows is a great post-meal treat. If watching football or holiday movie-marathons is more in your lane, setting up a video projector or TV outside for your guests will allow them to veg-out and relax.