Your Guide to Hosting Thanksgiving Outdoors

Holiday gatherings are nearly upon us, and it’s a great time to start planning your festive dinners and events. Want to mix it up this year? Al fresco dining can be an enjoyable way to bring family and friends together while enjoying the season outdoors. I just love how refreshing and cozy it can be to share a meal with my loved ones in the backyard.

If you’re as excited as I am by the thought of hosting Thanksgiving outdoors, then this is the post for you. Of course, planning a large meal outside comes with its own unique challenges to think about ahead of time. Here’s your guide to the key components to remember when you’re preparing for the big meal.

Furniture Choice

An al fresco table setting for celebrating Thanksgiving outdoors.

If you decide to host a meal outdoors, start with the furniture you’ll need. You may already have outdoor-friendly pieces to use, or you can bring additional furniture out from inside your home. Depending on the number of guests you’re expecting, you can play around with different arrangements. I sometimes like to use a combination of chairs and benches to keep guests comfortable. Also, think about if you need additional tables for serving.

Cozy Details

Cozy details at a Thanksgiving outdoors. There is a table with seating that features throw pillows and blankets.

Regardless of the furniture you choose, think about little ways you can keep guests cozy while outside. One of the best ways to do this is to add throw pillows and soft blankets throughout your setup. It helps to celebrate the warm and fuzzy feeling of this time of year. If you live in a colder state, you might offer guests hand warmers for some added comfort.

Food Prep

A turkey dinner being prepared for Thanksgiving outdoors.

There are a few logistics to consider when eating outside. First, consider if you might want to prepare the turkey outdoors. There are some incredible ways to prepare the main dish on the grill. Plus, if you do fire up the grill, you can easily prepare some veggies or other simple sides. Then, think about if you’ll need any kind of insulation for food. You might need warmers for your dishes, or coolers for beverages.


A fire in a fireplace is seen burning behind an outdoor table setting.

Nothing complicates an outdoor meal like unexpected weather! Keep this in mind when preparing your setup. Heating lamps or a fire pit can be a great solution for chillier weather. If you live somewhere like Florida, you know that rain could be a larger concern. In this case, you might plan to keep things under cover or even rent a tent. My final suggestion is to consider bug repellants to make sure your dining experience stays pleasant.

Serving Style

A buffet-style serving table at a Thanksgiving outdoors

Another important point worth mentioning is the serving style you choose. The larger your party is, the more this will be a factor for your dinner. In an effort to keep things running as smoothly as possible, you should plan this out in advance. If you’re limited on table space, buffet style could be ideal. However, I think family style can keep the dinner party feeling intimate and the conversation flowing. You could even add an outdoor bar cart or dessert station for a nice touch.


A cozy table setting with string lights above the dining area.

Finally, it’s great to set the overall tone for the evening. Make things extra special with some string lights over your table, candles, and music. I personally love to have seasonal blooms throughout my decor. One thing I love about outdoor dining is that the feeling of being in nature already creates a lovely setting for you.

Would you host your Thanksgiving outdoors? No matter your preference, this time of year offers a beautiful opportunity to gather around and express our gratitude. I hope your season is full of great times with loved ones, delicious food, and wonderful memories.