A Guide to Creating Outdoor Christmas Traditions

Outdoor holiday experiences are often the most unique and special. That said, going outside in December is not necessarily anyone’s natural inclination. Because of this, creating unique holiday traditions in your outdoor living space requires thought and preparation. To help you make the best use of your outdoor living space during the holiday season, we have put together a few helpful tips and ideas.



1. Decorate your outdoor space!

This first tip is simple and essential to enjoying your space during the holiday season. Without question, you are more likely to incorporate your outdoor living space into your holiday festivities if you have decorated it for the season. Holiday décor will make your outdoor living space more festive and inviting to family and friends. Your décor can be as simple as a little greenery or as elaborate as a large display of lights.



2. Be ready to start a fire

A crackling fire has long been a traditional symbol of Christmas dating back to the Nordic tradition of burning the Yule Log. If your outdoor living space features a wood burning fireplace or fire pit, incorporate the feature into your holiday festivities and possibly start a Yule Log tradition of your own.

In order to do this, it is important that you always be ready to start a fire. Along with having ample firewood, Outdoor Dreams recommends always having kindling and a box of environmentally friendly starter logs to make the process easier. From our experience, homeowners that make starting a fire  quick and easy, are much more likely to use their fire features. These days, firewood, starters and kindling can all be purchased at most grocery stores, home improvement stores and even large discount stores like Costco. With so many convenient places to purchase these items, there is no reason you shouldn’t be prepared to quickly start a fire and a new Christmas tradition for your family.





3. Plan specific outdoor activities

During the Spring, Summer and Fall, it’s natural to spontaneously gravitate outside to read a book, dine alfresco, or just take in the fresh air. Once the winter weather arrives, stepping out the back door doesn’t always come naturally. Because of this, outdoor holiday activities need to be given a little more thought and planning to create anticipation, excitement and a general sense of occasion. Consider implementing (and possibly combining) some of the following activities to incorporate your outdoor living space into your holiday traditions.


Start a Yule Log Tradition

As mentioned above, the custom of burning the Yule Log goes back to, and before, medieval times. Instead of watching a recorded fire on TV, start your own yule log tradition using your outdoor fireplace or fire pit. Adding a Yule log tradition with other fun activities will enhance your experiences and create traditions your family looks forward to every year.





Warm Outdoor Drinks and Cocktails

There is no need to plan an entire evening outside, but consider warm drinks and cocktails to start or end your gathering. Use your grill, side burners or even fire features as a unique way to warm your drinks. Whether you prefer hot chocolate, warm cider, mulled wine or hot totties, a warm drink outdoors (by the Yule log perhaps?) with family and friends will be a memory you won’t soon forget.





Christmas Cookie S’mores

Everyone’s house is overflowing with baked goods during the holiday season. Instead of throwing out extras (or bland ones given to you at a cookie exchange), add chocolate and a toasted marshmallow for a unique holiday S’mores experience.






Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

We all recognize the words, but how many of us actually experience this Christmas tradition anymore? At Outdoor Dreams, we think it’s time to bring back the chestnut roasting tradition utilizing outdoor living spaces. This year use your grill, outdoor fireplace or fire pit to roast chestnuts and bring the “Christmas Song” to life.





Singing Christmas Carols

A roaring outdoor fireplace or fire pit provides the perfect setting for friends and family to sing Christmas Carols.







An Outdoor Christmas Tree & Gifts

We’ve all see the LL Bean “Outdoor Christmas” Commercial (if you haven’t, here is a link). There is no reason (other than the weather, of course) why you and your family can’t celebrate Christmas morning outdoors. This could be your main Christmas setting or maybe a secondary/surprise setup that features large and/or outdoor gifts (bikes, canoes, etc.).





4. Make your patio part of the party


Indoor gatherings can get stuffy, especially in the winter when it is tough to balance your central heating system with a large crowd. Instead of forcing guests to suffer through, plan on using your outdoor living space as an overflow area where people can step outside to cool off and take a breath of fresh air. Use the suggestions below (a couple of which elaborate on previous tips) to create a space that is warm, inviting and enjoyable.


Decide on an Atmosphere


Before making any specific plans, decide what atmosphere you want to create with your outdoor living space. Though it makes sense to simply match the overall atmosphere of your gathering, consider using your outdoor living space to do something different and complimentary. For example, if your party is elegant and subdued, maybe your outdoor living space is a place for your guests to get a little louder and boisterous. Conversely, if you’re planning a rowdier party, the outdoor living space might provide a quiet escape for guests to take a minute and cool down.


Decorate the Space


As outlined above, holiday décor is essential to creating a festive and inviting space. Along with the traditional outdoor décor of lights and garland, don’t be afraid to bring some of your indoor decorations out. Using indoor décor will help to create a cozier and more enjoyable atmosphere.


Start a Fire


The key to enjoying an outdoor living space during the holiday season is keeping your friends and family warm. Arguably the best way to keep people warm in an outdoor living space is to start a fire for them to gather around. As a bonus, “stirring the fire” can also serve as a quick escape if you need a break from your hosting duties.


Provide Blankets and Throws


If guests must go looking for their coat just to step outside for a minute, they are much less likely to do so. Providing ample blankets and throws will allow guests to wrap up without the need of a jacket.


Add some music (or maybe silence)


Having Christmas carols playing in your outdoor living space could be an inviting element for many. Guests might step outside to take a break from conversation and listen to a few of their favorite Christmas songs. On the other hand, if you have music and loud conversation inside, maybe your outdoor living space is where guests can go for a little peace while listening to the subtle sounds of a crackling fire.


Include an Outdoor Specific Activity


If you really want to encourage people to use your outdoor living space, be sure to have something fun and unique setup that can only be done outside. Whether it’s hot cocktails, Christmas cookie s’mores, or any of the other ideas listed above, give your guests a fun and unique outdoor experience.





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Mike Newberger

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