With warnings against large indoor gatherings this year, many of us are wondering how to celebrate Thanksgiving. A socially-distanced, outdoor gathering can be the perfect compromise. Tracy Morris, a McLean-based interior designer and the owner of Tracy Morris Design, shares some ideas on how to make it cozy, convivial and special.
Create a welcoming space.
Set up a few small outdoor bistro-style tables to keep groups small, each decked out with a beautiful seasonal centerpiece and its own serving tray of food. To stave off the chill, use outdoor heaters and set blankets on chairs for guests to stay warm. Add lots of candles to every table and hang up string lights for ambient heating. Instead of delicate glass and ceramic that can easily shatter, purchase a nice set of melamine plates and acrylic stemware that you can use for future events.
In a year as disconcerting and abnormal as 2020, it’s more special than ever to gather together with family and loved ones. “Keeping as many traditions as possible, as well as serving classic dishes you always cook will make it feel like a special time no matter the location.” If you are planning on connecting via Zoom during your celebration with those who live far away or can’t make it, check out these tips for hosting a virtual Thanksgiving.
Serve and store food and drink smartly.
“With the cooler temperatures, food can get cold fast, so warming trays are a great investment,” Morris points out. (Remember to purchase enough Sterno to last throughout the event.) Also be sure to cover food to protect it from the elements–as well as any stray insects that haven’t gotten the memo that summer is over. She recommends using an insulated carafe to dispense seasonal warm beverages like hot chocolate, warm cider or mulled wine. Since you are going to be outside anyway, this might be the year to turn off the oven and invest in a turkey fryer–just be sure to read up on how to use it safely–or spatchcock and grill your turkey. You can also use a grill set on low heat to keep side dishes warm, which will keep you from running back and forth to the kitchen.
Be creative if you are short on space.
Take a look at your apartment or house and see if there is a way to create an hybrid indoor/outdoor experience, she suggests. Fully open doors to convert two smaller spaces into one large flowing one. (Just let guests know about your expectations for masks if they plan on venturing inside or to use the restroom.)
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