It’s fitting that the Ice family holds its holiday party outdoors on the snow-covered landscape and the cold temperatures and snowfall during the holidays don’t hold these hardy folk back from celebrating the season, and it shouldn’t deter you, either.
Start preparing and doing as much as possible for your outside holiday party as far in advance as you can to eliminate stress when it comes time to party. Plan the menu weeks in advance and arrange for help, if you foresee needing it. Recruit family or hire high school students for help with everything from set-up to food service.
Purchase non-perishable food far in advance to make your final trip to the grocery store a quick one. Since the drinks aren’t perishable, stock the bar two to three weeks before the big day. Another task to take care of ahead of time is reserving a generator with a rental store. It will be useful for powering a heat source and power lights and keep food warm during the evening.
Make a Checklist
Organized people know the value of a checklist. You have all your “to-dos” right in one place, and you get the satisfaction of crossing them off as you go. First make a list of everything that needs doing for the party, then divide it all into sections based on how far in advance they can be done. Real Simple advises dividing your list into six columns that will count down to party day — three weeks, two weeks and one week before the party, as well as three days, one day and the day of the party.
Use your columns as a guideline for dividing up the party preparation chores to spread out the tasks equitably. For instance, place tasks such as making the guest list, sending invitations and planning the menu under “three weeks before”; include house cleaning and serving ware inventory under “one week before”; “three days before” should list decorating, finishing the grocery shopping and notifying your neighbors if you live close enough that the noise and parking could be an issue.
That leaves only a few loose ends to be placed on the “one day before” and the “day of” portions of the list, such as setting tables, cooking prep and finishing up the cooking, placing chairs and setting out the food.
Weatherproof the Decorations
Your backyard doesn’t have to be decorated elaborately for your outdoor holiday party, but the decorations you do have need to be durable and weatherproof. Spray paint metal bows made from plumbing strapping, as detailed by Southern Living.
Place a few dwarf spruce trees around the patio. No fancy pots or containers are needed, just wrap some burlap around the bases for a charming, rustic look. Fill in the spaces that need a little “something” with pine boughs and sprigs of holly for a look that’s festive, but not flimsy or overdone.
Shelter the Food
The buffet is the axis around which any great party revolves, so plan and organize yours for convenience and efficiency. Good Housekeeping recommends putting the food table under an overhang or otherwise protecting it from the elements with a canopy or umbrellas.
When organizing the buffet, the plates should be at the beginning of the line, then the food should be laid out as follows:
- bread or buns
- salads and sides
- condiments and seasonings
- silverware and napkins
- Place extra, mini versions of salt, pepper and condiments on the tables or close to the bar for the convenience of those who may have missed them in the buffet line.