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outdoor thanksgiving drinks

All Photos: Maura Friedman


How to throw an outdoor Thanksgiving: The drinks and activities

Complete your outdoor Thanksgiving with tubs full of cold beer, a marshmallow-toasting fire pit and plenty of lawn games.

To round out your outdoor Thanksgiving, be sure to stock up on food-friendly drinks and outdoor games. Yes, you can decamp to the living room to watch football if you must, but the real fun will be had while mingling before and after the meal.

Here's how we plot out the rest of the event.
Drinks: Keep it easy and refreshing
Like any other outdoor meal, cold beer is likely going to be your best friend. Here in Atlanta, we are totally crushing on Three Tavern's seasonal sour, Enchantress, which is made with cranberry juice. Round out your sours with a few IPAs and easy-drinking pilsners for those who shun puckery, tart beers. Pile the beers up in metal or enameled tubs filled with ice and be sure to put out plenty of bottle openers.

Of course, we know that some can't have Thanksgiving without wine, so you'll also want to keep a couple bottles of both white and red on hand to keep everyone happy. Again, light and easy drinking is the way to go here, so stick with wines like a crisp chenin blanc and fruity Cru Beaujolais. Bottles of white can go into the tub with the beers and the reds will be just fine sitting out on the table. To keep things casual, we like to serve wine out of Mason jars.
If you want to serve a house cockail with the cheese board, we recommend seasonal and spicy mulled cider spiked with bourbon. It's easy to modify the drink to keep it fairly low in alcohol so that no one will be napping before the turkey is carved. And be sure to set some aside sans booze for any kiddos in attendance.

And don't let water get the short end of the stick. Serve it up in style in an ice-filled drink dispenser like this one from Crow Canyon, or divide it up between multiple colorful pitchers. Any other punch, juice or lemonade should get the same treatment.
Activities: Lawn games and fire pits for the win
There are almost always too many cooks in the kitchen during Thanksgiving, so our advice it to keep your guests occupied while you finish cooking. 

Pull out games like bocce ball, croquet and corn hole for all those who are feeling a bit competitive. Consider setting up tournament brackets for your games if you've got a particularly large crowd. Winner gets a nice bottle of beer or wine.
Another great addition to any outdoor Thanksgiving is a fire pit. You can use it to cook your sweet potatoes for dinner and marshmallows at dessert. And it's a rule that whenever there's a fire, people will gather. We guarantee at least a few of your guests will be quite content to hang out by the fire with a drink and a few chunks of cheese.

Learn how to set up your table and yard for outdoor Thanksgiving success.
Plan your menu today.

Thank you to The Magnolias and Atlanta Fine Homes | Sotheby’s International Realty for providing the space for our outdoor Thanksgiving. ​​

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Kate Williams is the former editor-in-chief of Southern Kitchen. She was also the on-air personality on our podcast, Sunday Supper. She's worked in food since 2009, including a two-year stint at America’s Test Kitchen. Kate has been a personal chef, recipe developer, the food editor at a hyperlocal news site in Berkeley and a freelance writer for publications such as Serious Eats, Anova Culinary, The Cook’s Cook and Berkeleyside. Kate is also an avid rock climber and occasionally dabbles in long-distance running. She makes a mean peach pie and likes her bourbon neat.