Tips for hosting outdoor gatherings this holiday season and making the most of your backyard living space

The past nearly two years of pandemic life has given us a greater appreciation for the ability to gather outdoors. This holiday season, we anticipate that more Boiseans will consider an outdoor Thanksgiving.

Erin Sorensen, Vice President of Engineering at Ethos Design + Build | Remodel, has a large family that has celebrated many holidays in an airplane hangar. This allows for airflow but with a roof to shelter from the weather, plus creative decorating opportunities. While a patio or deck remains the most popular venue for outdoor dining at home, people overlook the potential in their garage. Not only is a garage holiday a great reason to get organized before winter comes, but the space lends itself to holiday crafts for the kids, and eliminates any stress about getting the carpet dirty. 

Outfitting your garage with rented tables and chairs, and using tablecloths and crock pots can make for a “hygge” Thanksgiving that is safer for COVID-19 and still warm enough to be fun. We love searching local thrift stores for fun vintage tablecloths perfect for outdoor use. 

Incorporating fire pits and outdoor heaters can also lengthen the life of your family’s outdoor dining space. Mobile fire pits make it easy to move to different spaces in your backyard, or even into the front yard, as we saw many of our neighbors on the Bench and West End do this Halloween. Outdoor lights or even adding a picnic table can do wonders for your outdoor holiday gathering. 

Regardless of whether you’ll host an outdoor gathering on a deck, patio, around a fire pit, or in the garage, remember to take care of your leaf rubbish and put your garden to bed. Starting now means you’ll be less likely to get burned out by the hard work that comes with a beautiful Boise fall, particularly if you live in a more historic neighborhood with many trees. If the air quality is good, you can even burn some of your yard detritus in your fire pit as you celebrate checking fall clean-up off your list. 

Another important consideration this time of year is sealing the outer perimeter of your home so that rodents, spiders, and other creepy-crawlies don’t winter inside alongside your family. Make sure the outside edges of your home are free and clear from leaves and other debris. You’ll also want to make a habit of taking your lawn chair covers and cushions off and putting them away for the season. We’re big fans of the Stihl multi-tool because it includes leaf-blowing and even chainsaw options that make fall clean-up season a breeze.

When we design and build or remodel a client’s home, we focus on how the inhabitants plan to use the space, as well as how important a livable outdoor space is for them. Building an outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill, smoker (we love Traeger’s options), a counter top for prepping, and even an outdoor sink can be absolutely dreamy and help you spend more time outside during three or even four seasons of the year. An outdoor sink with the ability to attach a hose can be very helpful for yard cleanup or washing garden goodies. Pizza ovens are also soaring in popularity in Boise and can even make for a fun DIY project if an outdoor kitchen remodel isn’t in the cards for you right now. 

Some of our favorite outdoor kitchen projects have included a trough for cold drinks and a covered area for a TV, or cabinets to protect electronics to ensure happy Super Bowl parties for years to come. Last but not least, consider investing in a hot tub or a sauna. This might be an awkward addition at Thanksgiving, depending on the family, but it’s something you’re certain to enjoy all year long. 

Whether you’ll celebrate inside or out, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving and healthy, prosperous holiday season. 

Sarah Cunningham is the founder + CEO of Ethos Design + Build | Remodel. She lives on the Boise Bench. Erin Sorensen is the Vice President of Engineering + Construction. She lives on the West Bench. Team Ethos is celebrating recently setting up shop in the West End. Learn more at https://ethosdesignremodel.com/