Cooler temperatures and changes in leaf color make autumn the perfect time of year to entertain outdoors. It doesn’t matter if you already have a summer entertainment space. When creating a fall one, you must take certain differences between seasons into consideration. Additionally, with the continuation of the pandemic, there are several safety concerns. Use this guide to make the most of your backyard for entertaining family, friends and others this fall.

Choose an Outdoor Spot

It’s usually best to place any backyard entertaining space close to the home so that it’s easy for you and your guests to quickly access the kitchen and bathroom whenever necessary. As with summer entertaining, you might choose an existing patio or deck near the backyard or an open grassy area in the yard. In the fall, never place the spot underneath one or more trees since they create cleanup and hazard problems. Trees lose leaves in autumn and drop branches when it’s windy. They can also catch fire if you decide to place a fire nearby.

Create a Fire Pit

A fire on a cold night provides warmth and additional light. You might use a fire pit on a fall evening to hang out with family and tell ghost stories or reminisce about the past. A fire pit is also great for roasting marshmallows, making s’mores, smoking strips of jerky and cooking chili and cornbread with a cast iron dutch oven pot. A lot of fire pit design options exist. When picking a fire pit design, consider the type and color of blocks and the shape. Also, you must take into account the layout of the entertaining space. For example, you need to decide if you want to place the pit at the center with furniture around it or at the side with some or all seats facing toward it.

Buy or Build Furniture

Wicker and other furniture pieces that contain holes allow cool air to flow through to guests who are trying to stay warm. Many people invest in wooden or concrete furniture for autumn entertainment instead so that their guests are always comfortable. These furniture materials are also good for year-round entertaining. When buying or building furniture, you must again consider the layout of the space. You might want to set up one couch with a couple of chairs and a large table or place several small loveseats near the fire pit away from the table. If you have a small budget, check out thrift stores for low-cost pieces or quickly and inexpensively build furniture with wooden pallets.

Install a Kitchen and Bar

If you host a lot of meals in the fall, you might find it easier to have an outdoor kitchen where you can use a large grill, a smoker or an open fire pit. If you like to preserve produce via canning methods, an outdoor kitchen can make prep work, cooking and cleanup a lot easier. Even if you don’t want a kitchen, a bar can help to keep anyone who enjoys a lot of alcohol on chilly days or nights outdoors so that there are fewer related accidents inside of your home. Given the current social distancing restrictions, outdoor kitchen and bar spaces are also perfect for protecting everyone during trick-or-treating this Halloween. For example, you might create a spooky path that leads from the front yard to the back one and leave small bags of candy on outdoor counters.

Add Decorative and Functional Touches

Lastly, a fall backyard entertaining space should feature little details that make it feel more welcoming, comfortable and seasonal. For example, always arrange plenty of cushions, pillows and blankets on the furniture to help people keep warm. Place a sealed tote nearby filled with extra clothing, such as jackets, coats, hats, gloves and scarves. If you’re using a concrete patio, you might put down thick rugs so that everyone can wear socks instead of boots. To improve the lighting at night, you might string fairy lights, set up outdoor torches or arrange candles in glass jars. To create an autumnal atmosphere, you might place centerpieces that feature fall flowers, dried herbs and gourds on tables or border the entire area with pumpkins resting in piles of yellow, red and brown leaves.