If you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere that is warm enough to celebrate Thanksgiving outside, it can be a great use of your deck. Even if it’s not quite warm enough where you live, you might be hoping to have a Thanksgiving like Charlie Brown and his friends did in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
As long as the weather is bearable, you can have an outdoor Thanksgiving with the right preparation. The main things you’ll need to worry about are keeping your guests (and the food) warm and lighting the table.
Before you worry about that, you’ll first need to make sure your deck is ready for guests. Here are the steps you should take to get your deck ready for a Thanksgiving meal.
5 Steps to Get Your Deck Ready for Thanksgiving
1. Check for Rot and Water Damage
This only applies to wooden decks. If you have a deck made from another material, you don’t have to deal with rotten wood. However, wooden decks are the most common.
If you do have a wooden deck, poke a screwdriver into questionable areas. If the screwdriver goes into the wood, it’s rotten. You’ll need to replace that part of the deck.
You might also need to seal it. If you spray water onto the deck and it sinks into the wood, you need to seal your deck. If the water sits on top of the wood without sinking in, the deck is properly sealed.
2. Make Repairs and Clean the Deck
Once you’ve properly inspected your deck, you can make the necessary repairs and wash the rest. There are band-aids you can put on to temporarily repair rotten wood, but it’s best to replace the wood for your Thanksgiving guests.
Once all of the wood is in good shape, scrub the deck with a brush and some bleach mixed with water. This will get rid of any mildew or mold that has grown. If you have a composite or plastic deck, use soap and water.
3. Waterproof the Deck
The next step is to seal it properly so that you don’t have to do this again anytime soon. Make sure the deck is dry before you seal it. You might need to give it a few days after washing it.
Sealing can be accomplished with stain, paint, or a clear sealer if you want to keep the natural look of the wood. Whatever you choose, let it dry and apply a second coat for proper protection. Once the second coat dries, you’re ready to start preparing for Thanksgiving.
4. Provide Warmth for Your Guests
Unless you live in the southern-most parts of the southern-most states in the US, it’s probably going to be cold on Thanksgiving. If you live a bit farther north, is it realistic to have Thanksgiving outside? It depends on the weather and your access to outdoor heating.
An outdoor fireplace or fire pit can help keep some of the cold away, but you might also want to invest in some outdoor space heaters and a pellet stove. One end of the table can have the fireplace behind it and the other can have the pellet stove. Space heaters can then be put on the sides of the table.
If it isn’t too windy, you can set out a bunch of fall-themed candles. This will provide some warmth for the food and cold hands. Tabletop heaters are available as well. They don’t look as nice, but they provide more heat.
In this case, warmth doesn’t just include heat. Your guests will need light as well. Since it gets dark early in November, it’s best to have your meal early in the day.
A Thanksgiving lunch might be more appropriate if you’re hoping to be outside. Make sure your deck is lit properly in case it starts to get dark toward the end of your meal.
5. Provide Warmth for the Food
This is the toughest part. How do you keep your Thanksgiving dinner warm when you’re eating outside?
Truthfully, your best option is to have a buffet-style Thanksgiving. Have a table outside that’s dedicated to the food. Keep this table close to one of your outdoor heating sources if you can. Then keep each dish in a chafing pan that has a methanol gel heating source underneath it.
Younger guests can make Thanksgiving plates for the older guests who can’t make it back and forth between the table and buffet. If you don’t mind the walk, you can keep the buffet table just inside the house for added warmth.
You won’t have the Thanksgiving spread on the table, but that will leave more room for decorations, including those fall-themed candles. How many times have you sat at a Thanksgiving table that was covered in food, leaving no room for anything else?
This could be a blessing in disguise. Cleaning up afterward will be easier as well!
Cross Your Fingers
All that’s left now is to decorate and hope for a sunny day. Make sure you have a backup plan if the weather reports don’t look good. Heat won’t protect you from rain and snow.
What are your Thanksgiving plans? Are you hoping for a sunny Thanksgiving surrounded by colorful leaves? Let us know in the comments below!