Arts & Life, Food & Drink

Chef Tips 101: Hosting an outdoor party in winter

Summers are filled with camping, bonfires, BBQs and outdoor parties, why can’t winter be the same? Well, at least when it comes to an outdoor party? I know its cold, sometimes too cold to talk about, but why not embrace the winter and plan an outdoor function?

Here are twelve fun tips to get you on your way:

  1. Pick the date and make a guest list
    Leave out that friend that likes to complain a lot. This party is only for hard-core guests who will embrace the frigid cold with you. Make it clear that this is an outdoor event when inviting them. Tell them to bring warm clothes and an open mind.
  2. Start the party in the early evening
    The weather is not as cold in the early evening and you can start partying in the daylight and it will become dark quickly. This is the best of both worlds. Enjoy beautiful daylight followed by the evening and hopefully stars in the sky.
  3. Make a bonfire
    This is crucial to keeping everyone warm and will be a key spot to gather. Make this bonfire big! The best part about a winter bonfire is the ease to control the fire. It will not spread quickly and there is no worry about starting other things on fire with all the snow. Make sure you have lots of dry wood to keep it going and some seating for people to relax.
  4. Have extra mitts, scarves, toques and fleece blankets for your guests
    These can be very inexpensive and a good thing to have on hand as back up. Your guests will be thanking you if they need them.
  5. Stock up on mini hot packs
    You can buy these for cheap at your local dollar store. These little beauties are great to put inside your boots or mitts. The kids will love to play with them and the adults will be grateful for the extra warmth.
  6. Prepare fun winter drinks
    Hot chocolate with your favourite liqueur, apple cider with whiskey or a mulled wine in your crock pot. For children-friendly refreshments make regular hot chocolate with toasted marshmallows or a spiced cranberry cider. These are simple drinks that will keep you warm. Buy throw-away (recyclable) to-go cups with lids. These will insulate your drinks to keep them warm longer.
  7. Make food that will warm you up
    Keep these items simple and easy to eat with gloves or mitts on. Chili, stews or soups are very easy to eat out of a mug. The handle provides a simple way to hold onto the dish while wearing bulky mitts. These items keep well in a crock pot, which makes you, the host, more available to your guests. This method works better than running in and out of the house worrying about something burning on the stove.
  8. Bring out the deep fryer
    Anything from chicken wings to spring rolls can go in the deep fryer. Deep frying outside is incredible. There is little mess and absolutely no smell! These items are sure to satisfy your guests, even if their hands get cold for a moment.
  9. Plan some activities
    This tip is most important if you have children invited. Plan a few simple activities like touch football in the snow or a scavenger hunt. Beer pong or a snowball fight are prefect for the adults. These games or activities will keep everyone’s minds off the cold temperatures and keep your blood flowing to provide warmth.
  10. Set up a warm-up area
    Use your garage, shed or even inside your house. This area needs to have snacks and drinks and will be a good area for any food items that require your mitts to be removed. Have some fun music going in the background to set the mood.
  11. Keep a positive attitude
    If all you and your guests do is talk about how cold it is, you are very likely to not have a good time. If you choose to embrace mother nature and enjoy the fresh air, you are sure to have a great time and create some fun memories.
  12. If it really gets too cold, go inside
    Take this opportunity to have toque hair, be proud of your red cheeks and runny noses. You just had an outdoor party in the winter in Manitoba, celebrate!


Melissa Hryb is the chef at Marion Street Eatery, where she specializes in hearty comfort food with a twist.

Follow her on Twitter @MarionStreetEat or Instagram @MarionStreetEatery