While the winter can bring intense snowfall and frigid temperatures here in North Idaho, it doesn’t have to prevent you from throwing a fabulous outdoor gathering for friends and family.
1. Focus on the space. Find a spot outdoors that will accommodate your guests in an effortless manner. We suggest a location with a great view and enough space for whatever seating, food tables, or other equipment you need.
To leave the spot as clean as you found it, we also recommend providing two trash receptacles and additional trash bags for easy clean up and recycling when the party is over. You may even want to designate a couple helpers to assist in tidying at the end of the night to lighten the cleanup load.
2. Finalize the food. For an effortless celebration, keep your menu small, perhaps even serving just a few simple snacks! If you want something more filling, a farm-to-table experience can be a unique way to serve your guests while also highlighting the best your area has to offer. Whatever you choose, prioritize simple, delicious fare over fussiness to maximize the amount of time you can spend with your guests. (Trust us, that’s what they’re really there for!) Our local favorites are Local41 Farms and the Pack River Store.
3. Keep comfort in mind. Keeping your guests warm is imperative so they enjoy their time and linger long enough to create memories. If your location is equipped with a fire pit or other fire feature, be sure you have wood, kindling, and any other materials you’ll need on hand. (And remember to stoke the fire before guests arrive so the space is warm and inviting when they get there.) If a fire isn’t possible, consider renting outdoor heaters or providing blankets and wraps to keep everyone cozy.
4. Hit the lights! Since the sun is setting earlier this time of year, provide enough extra lighting throughout the party to keep everyone safe. This could be candles on the table, string lights, solar powered ground lighting, or whatever best suits your location and party theme.
5. Set up the party flow with a self-serve area. Empower your guests to help themselves while also creating a good party flow with an easy-to-access self-serve beverage station or snack table. If you have a bar, we love to provide beverages from local wineries and breweries to make sure we’re stocked with bottles and growlers guests can pour themselves.
6. Plan for cleanup. In the weeks before your party, appoint teams for both the set up and the take down of your gathering. Many hands will lighten the load and get the job done quickly. (And it might even be more fun!)
7. Plan a great gift exchange. If you are planning on having a gift exchange, consider keeping a few small extra gifts on hand for any last-minute guests. Even a little something (perhaps from a local artisan) can go a long way in helping everyone feel more welcome. And consider using sustainable wrapping, like a tea towel, recycled paper, or a natural accent.
8. Put your invitation to work. We love digital invites for cozy, intimate gatherings. They’re a simple way to give guests all the information they need (including if the guests list is tight or they can bring friends) and also makes it easy for everyone to add your event to their calendars.
9. Don’t forget the music! But don’t overcomplicate it either. Instead of worrying about a hired DJ, we love queuing up a pre-made playlist on a bluetooth speaker, like our favorite JBL speaker here.
Creating a playlist in advance makes it easy to keep the music appropriate for all attendees and genres, and controlling your own speaker also puts you in control of the volume so it won’t drown out conversation.
10. Keep those memories alive with photos! If you’re relying on guests to capture the moment with their own cameras or phones, create a custom hashtag everyone can use when they post so you can refer back to everyone’s shots later. Or, hire a photographer to come take pictures for an hour or two. (It’s also a great way to make sure the host is in the photos, too!) You could even hire or set up your own photobooth with fun props from the dollar store to encourage everyone to strike a pose.
No matter how you choose to celebrate, try to create an event that you can enjoy as much as your guests. Instead of worrying about creating the perfect event, look for ways to simplify the process and remember: Happy memories shared are the best gift of all!
Looking for tips on how to make your next outdoor party a smashing success? Here are our tips for celebrating outside the box (and your home) this holiday season—and beyond!