Welcome to our dream patio.

By Katie Holdefehr
October 16, 2020

As the weather gets cooler and the pandemic continues, we've had to get creative with our outdoor entertaining. Cozy blankets, outdoor heaters, and hot toddies help make outdoor, socially distanced get-togethers more comfortable throughout the fall. Then, yesterday, Ina Garten inspired us to kick our outdoor entertaining up a notch by revealing her dreamy patio setup—complete with sheepskin throws and a low-key menu anyone can master. After ogling the ultra-cozy scene for a while (can we move in, please?), we decided to borrow some of the Barefoot Contessa's warm and welcoming ideas for our own outdoor spaces. No matter if you have a sprawling backyard, a deck, or a balcony, here are some Ina Garten-approved tips to make autumn gatherings safe and stylish.

"Entertaining outdoors has been such a surprise pleasure during these difficult times," Ina Garten writes in the caption on her Instagram post showing off her patio with a table set for guests. "As the weather turns chilly, I’ve done several things to make sure we can continue the fun."

Step #1: Ensure a safe distance, without losing the feeling of closeness. By placing chairs at opposite ends of a 6-foot table, Garten and her guests sit far enough apart, yet joining around the same table feels intimate. 

"Second, although we’re sitting far apart, I want it to feel cozy, so I fill the tables with flowers and candles." Get the same effect with tea lights in glass jars or even string lights in a bowl. Flowers can be store-bought or cut from your own yard. 

The most covetable find in Garten's setup? That outdoor heater wafting waves of warm air over the dining table. If you have an outdoor heater or a fire pit, now's the time to put them to work.

Next, the entertaining expert drapes fuzzy sheepskins over the chairs. Plush throw blankets are left out for guests to wrap themselves in. Pull throw blankets and pillows from around your house to create a comfy outdoor living room vibe. 

Garten points out that serving food outside is more work than entertaining indoors. Make it easy and maximize time with your guests by opting for a no-cook or prep-ahead meal. "This is the time when a take-out pizza and a big Caesar salad makes the best evening for everyone, even the host." We'll be right over, Ina!