If you are planning a holiday get-together this season, why not try something new and have an outdoor party. It may be cold out but with a little bit of preparation, your backyard can be the perfect cozy space to entertain family and friends.

Here are 5 tips on how to create the perfect outdoor party this holiday season:

Keep Seating Casual And Warm

With lower temperatures, having warm and comfortable seating is extremely important. Whether your guests use benches, chairs, or cushions, ensure that there is enough material separating your guests from the cold wet ground. Provide blankets, pillows, and even provide hats and mittens in case it gets extra chilly.

Fire It Up

A fire is a fantastic element to any outdoor party. It becomes a great gathering place and supplies much needed warmth and light. Remember to supply roasting sticks, marshmallows and sausages for those guests that want to enjoy a camp-like experience.

Toronto open air burning laws are fairly strict. Err on the side of caution and ensure you read all the regulations in your area. Generally, if your fire is small and safely contained and you are using it to cook food, you should be okay. Check online or with the local fire department beforehand.

Light Up The Space

Having a wonderfully bright backyard will make everyone feel cozy and warm. Save some of your Christmas lights to wrap around your porch, trees, and tables. Tiki torches provide both heat and light and look festive. Consider having one or two heat lamps in the areas where your guests will be spending the majority of their time. As always, safety first – ensure that all walkways and steps are visible to avoid falls and ensure all electrical components are protected from the weather.

Provide Easy-To-Eat Comfort Foods

If you are having a hot tub party or a BBQ, odds are that your seating will be fairly informal. Make it easy on your guests by serving food that is simple and easy to eat. Foods like stew, chili, and rice/pasta bowls are great because they can be served in bowls and are hearty and warm. The last thing you want is for your guests to have to balance a plate full of food on their knee as they try to eat with a fork and knife. If you decide on having a grill or fire pit for guests to huddle around, make it work double duty by having foods grilling throughout the night. Items like corn-on-the-cob, kebabs, potatoes, and eggplant are easy to grill (and eat!).

Serve Seasonal Drinks

It is going to be chilly! One of the best ways to warm up is by sipping on something hot. Set up a bar station with decorative mugs, napkins, straws and stir sticks and have carafes of hot cocoa, apple cider, tea, or coffee. Add to the fun by having cinnamon sticks, marshmallows or whipped cream for guests to top off their drinks.

For the guests that are looking to have something a little stronger – set up a bar cart with different liqueurs that pair well with hot beverages. For example, Baileys is delicious with hot cocoa or coffee, and Amaretto goes well with tea.

Ensure your guests stay warm and cozy and have an indoor back-up plan in case the weather takes a turn for the worse. Do not be afraid to get creative with entertainment ideas. Whether it is holiday-themed karaoke or a holiday film projected onto your fence – the possibilities really are endless. Happy entertaining!