Take the holiday party outside

You might say Markus Herten was ahead of his time when it comes to pandemic parties. This December, he and his wife, Anne, will host their fourth annual outdoor holiday open house. It’s a tradition that other households may want to follow with social distancing measures still in place. Moving the festivities outside is a creative way to safely spread Christmas cheer among friends and family.

The inspiration for Herten’s outdoor party came from the five years he and Anne lived in Germany where Christmas Markets, known as Weighnachtsmarkt, are prevalent.


“Ours is a little version of theirs,” Herten explains with a chuckle. “We cook up a batch of mulled wine and light up a fire pit for a nice cozy campfire.” Rather than set up in the backyard, guests gather on the driveway. The location choice is intentional. It’s a welcoming gesture, says Herten, as it more easily draws people in and when it comes to sharing the holiday spirit, the more, the merrier. The date and time of the event is always the same – mid-afternoon the Sunday before Christmas. This, he explains, is to avoid encroaching on people’s dinner and holiday plans during this busy time of year.

“Success for me is based on participation,” explains Herton, who delivers paper invitations “old school style” to the houses on his street. “If I can get lots of people to come, that is success.”


Host an outdoor holiday party of your own with these handy tips:


Blazing fire

Fire pits aren’t just for summer nights. Set up a fire anywhere, easily with the Solo Stove stainless steel bonfire, recommended by Hearth Manor in Mississauga. It even comes with a bag to carry and store it in. Extra bonus is that its design limits the amount of smoke it emits. The store also sells a range of traditional fire pits and accessories for backyard blazes that are durable enough to leave out through winter.


 Light it up

This is the year to show your true holiday spirit with extravagant lights and decor. Christmas Décor, which specializes in outdoor holiday light installation, says homeowners are increasingly requesting lights that change colours and programmed through a phone app. **(BRIAN – show train light image here)


 Hot bevvies

Hot drinks to warm the soul, and the hands, are a must for outdoor festivities. Options include mulled wine, hot chocolate or a unique cocktail. Store in a crockpot or on top of a hot plate to keep it steaming. (recipe here)


 Easy appetizers

Don’t spend too much time running in and out of the house to make and serve appetizers. Keep it simple with a few baked treats and ready-to-serve hot hors d’oeuvre. (recipe for biscotti below)


Bring on the heat

Heat lamps that work wonders on cool summer nights can do overtime through the holidays. Yes, your guests will be bundled up, but who doesn’t love a little extra warmth?