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outdoor dining

How To Host An Al Fresco Thanksgiving

Published Date: Oct 31, 2017

Summer may be long gone but with temps holding record highs on the west coast, families can easily opt for an outdoor gathering this holiday season. As it turns out, outdoor patios are a prime venue to create a brand-new tradition: the al fresco Thanksgiving Day feast.  

The Scene

Those who open their homes to welcome friends and neighbors that don’t have plans for turkey day will be able to accommodate everyone by taking the celebration outdoors. To get your outdoor living space in theme, dress up tables with decorative pumpkins, squash, and maize, LED candles, pinecones, chrysanthemums, and some cinnamon scented potpourri to enhance the holiday vibes. Adorn paver sitting walls with fall colored vines and kick on your outdoor LED lighting.


Setting up tables around the fire pit keeps everyone warm, cozy, and in the spirit of the season. A fire lit view of an autumnal landscape suddenly makes the dining room seem boring and stuffy by contrast. And with a fire pit, families in climates more typical of fall can get in on the fun, too.


Extra décor around the artificial turf lawn and patio can include dried corn stalks, haystacks, and sprays or wreaths of foliage and flowers in shades of burgundy and ochre.

fall table

The Menu

It’s tough for cooks to keep the conversation going, entertain and welcome new guests while making the biggest meal of the year. But with an al fresco Thanksgiving at your outdoor kitchen, everyone can chitchat and still be entertained while the cook shows them how it’s done.


A smoker on the paver patio for the turkey is a great alternative to the usual oven-baked bird. If you want to grill your bird, go for it. Place your turkey in an oven friendly pan, marinade and hit the built-in BBQ. Your grill is also the perfect choice for making smoky, seasoned corn on the cob and vegetables on skewers or in foil pouches.


Next, it’s time for those side burners to finally get some use. Keep mashed potatoes warm here as the tables fill up with hungry guests. Soups, gravies, and sauces can be stirred right there as the cook keeps an eye on the grill or smoker.

Now the oven - outdoors or in - is free for all of the holiday’s classic dishes, from yams and macaroni and cheese, to homemade rolls and pumpkin pie.

grilled turkey

Fall Fun

While everyone’s waiting for their Thanksgiving dinner, kids can play a game of Pin the Tail on the Turkey out on the artificial turf lawn. It’s easy to DIY: just use markers to draw a tailless turkey on a piece of poster board, and fashion a feather tail out of construction paper. Simply, blindfold, spin, and let the games begin.


Once everyone is nice and stuffed, let them pitch in on making their own dessert. Use those outdoor side burners to melt down caramel and cream for caramel-dipped apples. Set out sprinkles, crushed almonds and chocolate powder and let guests roll their own toppings on. Set apples aside for 10 minutes to harden and enjoy!


Family, the great outdoors, thankfulness and good food. What more do you need? Hosting an al fresco Thanksgiving merges the classic themes of gratitude and family bonding in a slightly unexpected setting that loved ones will remember forever. It’s a great occasion to think outside of the indoor kitchen. 

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