Summer’s warm temperatures and cooperative weather made social-distance hangouts relatively easy to execute safely (you know, six feet apart, fully masked up and 100 percent outdoors—there’s still a pandemic raging on, people). But even though the change of seasons might try to throw a wrench in things, we’ve got Ina “Chambray All Day” Garten on our side to make safe outdoor entertaining a breeze.
“Entertaining outdoors has been such a surprise pleasure during these difficult times,” she writes in a recent Instagram post. “As the weather turns chilly, I’ve done several things to make sure we can continue the fun.” Without further ado, here are Ina’s four genius tips for safe outdoor entertaining no matter the season (or situation).
1. Follow the “households only” rule. “For safety,” Garten writes, “I only entertain people from one ‘household’ at a time.” She puts chairs at both ends of a 6-foot dining table or both sides of a 5-foot square coffee table to ensure social distancing, which is still a good idea to minimize risk even if both households or “social bubbles” are following all the requisite health guidelines.
2. Don’t overlook the ambience. “Although we’re sitting far apart,” she continues, “I want it to feel cozy, so I fill the tables with flowers and candles.” This is the ideal opportunity to try your hand at floral arranging.
3. Climate control is key. “I set up outdoor heaters or build a nice fire,” Garten writes, “plus cushions and blankets for each person so we’re nice and warm under the stars.” See? Year-round outdoor hangs are totally feasible.
4. Store-bought is still fine. “Since entertaining outdoors is more work than serving inside, I make really easy no-cook appetizers for cocktails and very simple lunches and dinners. This is the time when a take-out pizza and a big Caesar salad makes the best evening for everyone, even the host.” She’s a woman of her own words.
You know what they say: How easy is that?