5 ways to stay warm when outdoor dining that are perfect if you want to keep the party going after sun-down

It may be summer, but when the sun goes down, it can become a little too chilly for outdoor dining - enter these expert-approved ways to enjoy your backyard for longer

An outdoor space with a fireplace
(Image credit: Read McKendre. Studio credit Workshop APD)

We all love eating alfresco when the weather's right, but when enjoying an evening meal, the sun may disappear before you know it, plunging you and your guests into temperatures that are just on the edge of chilly. But what happens if you're not ready to take the party indoors? 

We asked experts to help us with tips on how to stay warm while dining in the garden or backyard and they helped us with some great, easy-to-include ideas. Take a look.

1. Dine around an outdoor fireplace

An outdoor space with a firepit

(Image credit: Read McKendre. Studio credit Workshop APD)

Turn up the heat outside with an outdoor fireplace. Not only will this element add a snug touch to your exteriors but a built-in stone or metal structure will also give your garden or backyard an elevated look, just like in this California backyard created by Workshop/APD.

'This 1925 Spanish Colonial home in Pebble Beach, CA, wraps around the outdoor courtyard space pictured here,' says Andrew Kotchen, founding principal at Workshop/APD. 'Because it’s a fully surrounded open-air courtyard, we designed the space to feel like a room at the heart of the home, complete with the original fireplace structure to add warmth. The furnishings flow with the rest of the home for a rustic, mid-century modern-inspired look, anchoring it in its nearly-100-year history.'

2. Use tall trees as natural wind breaks

An outdoor deck with big, lush trees

(Image credit: Amber Scott Freda)

Tall, leafy trees and lush plants not only add a nice, refreshing touch to the modern garden but when a seating spot is surrounded by it, can even create a snug, cocooning feeling.  As the plants and flowers cover the space with their leafy beauty, they trap heat and make the outdoors feel more welcoming.

'For this rooftop garden located in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, we mostly chose evergreens like boxwoods and spiral junipers, so the space stays green year around and feels warm and welcoming,' says landscape designer Amber Scott Freda. 'We added some color and a tropical touch by using annuals like geraniums and petunias to help break up all the greenery. The junipers do require trimming a few times a year to help maintain the spiral shape.' 

American Boxwood Shrub, Fast Growing Trees
Buy now

American Boxwood Shrub, Fast Growing Trees

Consider the American Boxwood Shrub that can be planted in a row as a foundation hedge, or grown tall in front of your porch for added privacy and year-round foliage.

3. Keep a blanket box nearby

An outdoor dining space

(Image credit: Kate Anne Designs)

Always cold and love to snuggle up with a blanket or a throw? These luxuries aren't only for the indoors. Keep a blanket box or a chest in your large or modern small patio and stay warm, no matter what the weather throws at you.

Add a thick pile of the softest blankets, ready to be used when you need them. A box with a lid would be ideal so that the blankets are always safe and dry. Do remember to keep rotating the blankets in this box, lest they start smelling or catch mold. 

4. Include a firepit

a firepit table

(Image credit: Amazon)

For the best outdoor heating for a dining table, consider a firepit table. This piece of  outdoor furniture is a great investment for homeowners who enjoy hosting gatherings or otherwise spending time outside. 

A firepit table can be used throughout seasons, be it fall or winter, and can help keep you warm and comfortable. The heat in fact can keep insects at bay, making outdoor time more comfortable. These can often be connected to a home's natural gas line to save money on propane. Firepit tables can become the centerpiece of a larger patio or a more spacious backyard, and help gather guests around it.

Firepit dining table, Target
Editor's Pick

Firepit dining table, Target

Snug up your outdoors with this modern, clean firepit table, that guarantees durability and longevity as you gather and make lasting memories year-round. 

5. Invest in a patio heater 

Overhanging patio heater in open barn

(Image credit: Cuckcooland)

Patio heaters are probably the most effective way to heat an outdoor dining area, but traditional pillar heaters will leave cold spots for some of your guests. However, newer stylish pendant patio heaters can be hung like lights from canopies, pergolas or arbors.

Yet, even pillar patio heaters look much better than they used to, with lamp-like standing heaters essentially just look like the floor lamps you would find in your living room. They make the perfect addition to outdoor dining spaces when you don't want the party to stop when entertaining. 

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast).  Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.