5 Tips for a Backyard Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that is firmly ensconced in tradition. Whether it’s the recipes served, the table setting choices, or even the seating arrangement, families tend to follow a fairly similar agenda year-to-year on one of our country’s favorite national holidays. This year, why not throw a small twist in the celebration planning and transplant your Thanksgiving feast from the dining room to the backyard? After all, what better way to give thanks to the abundance that nature has provided than by doing so under the open sky.
If you think your in-laws and out of town relatives will not revolt at the idea, here are 5 tips for pulling it off successfully and in style:

Table Settings

While you might have a tradition of using the same tablecloth and the same china at every Thanksgiving dinner, consider changing it up to enhance the outdoor experience. Use flowers and other plants that are already growing in your backyard to make natural and inviting centerpieces. Rather than bringing out the nice tableware, consider purchasing elegantly designed bamboo or palm frond disposable plates that can be thrown into the compost pile after the meal. Go the route of heavy butcher paper rather than a linen tablecloth and place different colored crayons around the table so that your family and guests can write down what they are thankful for and so the kids can entertain themselves in between courses. Overall, take advantage of the new setting to use your imagination and create some new traditions.


For an outdoor feast, the best serving arrangement is to set up the various dishes buffet style inside the kitchen and invite your guests to serve themselves before taking a place at the table. This will keep the food warmer than if it is sitting in an outdoor breeze and it will keep any insects or critters from interfering with your meal. It is still important to always serve the turkey tableside though as it keeps the meat warmer and juicier than if it is completely carved and left out to dry.


Like any outdoor event, be sure to have backup plans that you can implement at a moment’s notice. If it looks like rain, make sure to give yourself time to move the table settings to the dining room. If the weather is cooler than you had expected, purchase some eclectic horse blankets or ponchos and put one on every seat for your guests to lay across their laps or wrap around their shoulders. Propane space heaters can also be rented from event supply stores and can do a great job of raising the ambient temperature if they are placed around the edges of a table.
Planning an outdoor Thanksgiving feast is a great way to shake up your old holiday routine and make the best family celebration of the year even better.

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