There may soon be a chill in the air, but outdoor entertaining is still the safest option during the pandemic—here’s how to make your porch or patio guest-ready.

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If you’re anything like me, you’re not ready to start inviting guests indoors right now, which means outdoor entertaining probably won’t be over once the weather turns cooler and the nights get longer. Fortunately, outdoor at-home tailgate parties, Halloween bashes, and socially distant dinner parties can still be comfortable well into the fall (and even winter, in some places) with a few clever backyard upgrades and smart fall porch decor picks.

Don’t worry about hibernating socially once the first frost happens—just invest in a few smart ideas to welcome your friends over safely.

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Chappy Wrap outdoor blanket

1 Snuggle up with a cozy throw (or four)

$135, chappywrap.com

A great blanket can help keep you nice and toasty if the weather gets cool. Look for machine washable throws, like Chappywraps, which you can easily clean and have ready to keep your next set of guests warm. Pro tip: lay it out on the ground as a picnic blanket, and let kids sit on each end to help ensure they maintain social distancing while they’re playing.

Fall porch decor for outdoor hosting - projector
Credit: bhphotovideo.com

2 Add a little entertainment

$522, bhphotovideo.com

A video projector lets you host game or movie night in widescreen, full-color glory. (For best results, pair with a simple video screen made of a curtain rod and white full-sized sheets.)

Fall porch decor for outdoor hosting - Mosquito repellant
Credit: amazon.com

3 Keep bugs at bay

$46, amazon.com

As long as the weather stays above freezing, those pesky mosquitoes can linger. Thermacell’s mosquito repellent creates a cloud of mist that protects a patio-sized area from bugs.

Fall porch decor for outdoor hosting - Pizza oven
Credit: williams-sonoma.com

4 Find a safe meal to share

$335, williams-sonoma.com

Pizza-making could be a relatively safe way to provide a meal to guests. Buy premade dough, sliced mozzarella, and sauce, and let everyone make their own creations. (They can BYO fixings, or you can set up separate stations for each family unit.) Cook it in the Fyra pizza oven in about a minute, and slip it from the peel directly onto their plate for contactless serving.

Fire Pit outdoor entertaining

5 Light a fire

$259, amazon.com

If you don’t have the space to safely light a traditional fire pit, a propane model lets you control the flame and keep sparks at bay. This one produces 50,000 BTUs to help keep you and your guests toasty. 

Related: Fire Pit and Outdoor Heater Safety

patio heater outdoor

6 Invest in a patio heater

$170, amazon.com

As the temperatures cool, you’re going to need something to take the chill off, especially if your guests are staying outside with you for hours. We went with an electric patio heater to avoid the hassle of propane tanks, but either way, an outdoor heater will make it more comfortable outdoors even after the first frost.

Fall porch decor for outdoor hosting - Vintage string lights
Credit: potterybarn.com

7 Light up the night

$79, potterybarn.com

The days are getting shorter, so you’ll need to invest in better lighting. Vintage string lights add a gorgeous glow to your backyard—and are sturdy enough to last for more than a season.

indoor-outdoor rug patio

8 Swap out your accessories

From $99, potterybarn.com

Refresh your landscape by adding in evergreens and ornamental kale to replace faded plants, then switch up your summery outdoor rugs and cushions for bolder hues and textures that suit the season. This eco-friendly rug is woven from recycled plastic bottles and sports an on-trend shibori pattern.

Fall porch decor for outdoor hosting - Bartesian
Credit: bartesian.com

9 Make it easy to offer cocktails

$350, bartesian.com

Everyone’s still a little nervous about prepping food and drinks for their guests. Minimize the touchpoints for your cocktail setup with one of the new beverage machines that let you pop in a capsule and make a margarita, old-fashioned, or other classic cocktail without all the muddling and mixing.