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Ina Garten Shares Genius Tips for Cold Weather, Mid-Pandemic Entertaining

We may not be able to host large gatherings due to the pandemic, and the temps may be dropping a degree or two with every passing day, but — as we learned from Ina Garten yesterday — that doesn’t mean we can’t spend quality, safe time with our #quaranteam this holiday season.

The Barefoot Contessa host shared on Instagram yesterday a few genius tips for cold weather, mid-pandemic outdoor entertaining. “Entertaining outdoors has been such a surprise pleasure during these difficult times,” Garten wrote. “As the weather turns chilly, I’ve done several things to make sure we can continue the fun.”

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Entertaining outdoors has been such a surprise pleasure during these difficult times. As the weather turns chilly, I’ve done several things to make sure we can continue the fun. First, for safety, I only entertain people from one “household” at a time, so I put chairs at both ends of a 6-foot dining table or both sides of a 5-foot square coffee table to ensure social distancing. Second, although we’re sitting far apart, I want it to feel cozy, so I fill the tables with flowers and candles. Third, I set up outdoor heaters or build a nice fire, plus cushions and blankets for each person so we’re nice and warm under the stars. And finally, since entertaining outdoors is more work than serving inside, I make really easy no-cook appetizers for cocktails and very simple lunches and dinners. This is the time when a take-out pizza and a big Caesar salad makes the best evening for everyone, even the host. Click on the link in my bio for more outdoor entertaining menu ideas! #staysafe

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To start, Garten entertains people from one household at a time. Because, let’s face it, inviting guests from different households is unsafe. Is everyone as healthy as they say they are? Are they COVID-free? And if they aren’t, it’s a surefire way to spread the virus to multiple other households.

Garten’s second piece of advice is placing chairs at both ends of a 6-foot dining table — “or both sides of a 5-foot square coffee table” — to ensure social distancing. Yes, everyone may feel healthy and tested negative for COVID before coming over, but why not continue to encourage safe social distancing?

With everyone sitting a little further apart than usual, Garten fills the tables with flowers and candles to up the coziness factor. She also keeps everyone warm as the evening continues on — and the temperatures continue to drop — with a fire and blankets. “I set up outdoor heaters or build a nice fire,” Garten writes. “Plus, cushions and blankets for each person, so we’re nice and warm under the stars.”

The last bit of advice is our favorite — because it involves food: When entertaining outdoors, don’t get too caught up with what you serve. You want to be present for your guests, not running back and forth from the kitchen to the table. So, Garten recommends ordering pizza… really!

“This is the time when a take-out pizza and a big Caesar salad makes the best evening for everyone, even the host,” she says.

Of course, if you’re jonesing to show off your culinary skills, Garten has plenty of recipes perfect for outdoor entertaining, including her popular lasagna with turkey sausage, her chicken stew with biscuits, perfect roast chicken, and more.

“Since entertaining outdoors is more work than serving inside, I make really easy no-cook appetizers for cocktails and very simple lunches and dinners,” Garten says.

View Garten’s best outdoor entertaining recipes on her website, Barefoot Contessa.

Before you go, check out Ina Garten’s easy weeknight dinner recipes below:

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