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.

By Lisa Milbrand
August 06, 2020
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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.



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.



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 black and white full-sized sheets.)



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.



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.



If you don’t have the space to safely light a traditional fire pit, a small tabletop version is easy to use and provides some added warmth for your guests. (Bonus: You can still make s’mores!)



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.



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.


From $39,

Refresh your landscape by adding in mums and pumpkins to replace faded summer annuals, then switch up your summery outdoor rugs and cushions for bolder hues and textures that suit the fall. This reversible rug has a lighter striped side for summer and can simply be flipped for a darker shade come fall.



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.