These Items Will Keep Outdoor Socializing Pleasant, Even in Winter

Patio heater isolated on light-pink background.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Pamapic.

It feels like just as we’ve fully embraced outdoor socializing, settling into our picnics and pickleball, we must reckon with the looming prospect of returning indoors. But don’t despair just yet! There are items that will help you prolong backyard entertaining well into the fall, and even through the winter. Those fortunate enough to live in the warmer parts of the country may not need to adjust their summer setups much, but if frigid temperatures are on your horizon, here’s what you need to make your get-togethers more comfortable.


The most obvious purchase to warm up your space is an outdoor patio heater. They’re already starting to sell out online, and for good reason: These heaters, which restaurants have long relied on to extend the outdoor dining season, create a pleasant radius of warmth around them. If you’re more partial to a fire, Solo Stove makes a smokeless fire pit that’s portable and easy to use.

If your woven or mesh lawn chairs need a respite from winter’s chill, camping chairs can be an inexpensive, portable replacement. You can provide guests with extra warmth by pairing chairs with these water- and windproof fleece stadium blankets. In the dead of winter, add a LavaSeat: a cushion that holds a microwavable pack that will stay warm for hours. A nice additional touch for your guests is having on hand a basket full of hand and toe warmers.

A hot drink can also help guests keep their hands toasty. Serve them from this 2-liter thermal carafe or an airpot. Give a hot toddy a touch of authenticity with these clear glass mugs, or offer hot chocolate in these handsome, lidded Yeti tumblers.

Lighting will be extra important as the sun sets earlier. These string lights are cheery, cast a cozy glow, and are easy to hang. You can add some extra illumination with this set of fairy lights, which can be spooled up and kept in a mason jar or wrapped around a tree trunk. This solar lantern, made from recyclable sailcloth, also emits a remarkable amount of light and is super lightweight.

If you considered buying an outdoor film projector this summer but never made the purchase, it’s not too late to enjoy one. Outdoor movies are arguably even more delightful in the cooler months, when you can sit in your yard free of mosquitoes and humidity. Slate’s Sam Adams recommends the Acer H5382BD projector and Camp Chef’s collapsible 92-inch screen.