We had a party! And it was, among other positive adjectives, a bit chilly. :)
Over the weekend, MJ and I hosted a Golden Dinner Party to celebrate my golden birthday year. As always, it’s more about the party than the birthday. Last year, MJ and I had a joint 30th birthday party which was a blast and since our guests from party to party were mostly the same, we decided to do something different.
First up, a simple invite. I used a photo from the sunshine glitter day and cropped the image to fit gold lined envelopes I found.
I added the party details, making sure to note that our guests needed to bring their warm outerwear.
I received a few curious texts and a few guesses – sledding, scavenger hunt, snowball fight, etc - but we kept a lid on it until they arrived. Our surprise was an outdoor dinner.
Eating outside isn’t a normal winter activity for people in our area. We expected cold but thought it would be fun to try. Then last week, we had somewhat of a winter thaw with the temps reaching close to 40 a few days. Not too shabby for January. However, from Friday through Saturday, the temperature dropped by 20 degrees and the wind picked up. We were reminded that yes, it is still winter and winter is cooooooolllldddddddd.
I strung Christmas lights (purchased from an after-Christmas sale) over the patio, using some wire for support. To try to shield the party from the gusty, frigid winds, MJ and I propped up a large board and hung two tarps using some heavy duty clamps. Not the most beautiful but better than sucking down cold air with each bite.
We borrowed tables, chairs and tablecloths from our church but kept the metal chair inside until dinner. I didn’t set the table until right before the guests arrived and I didn’t light the candles until they were headed outside because of the wind, though only a few managed to stay lit through the meal anyway. We had two small heaters going under the table though with the wind, they were basically ineffective.
In an effort to keep our guests warm, we kept everything, plates, utensils, glasses and chairs, inside until dinnertime. When MJ and I were ready to serve, we asked our guests to bundle up, grab their drinks, utensils and napkins and take them to the table. After they picked a spot to sit, they grabbed a chair from inside to take out as well. That way, the chair didn’t have a chance to freeze.
While our guests kept their chairs warm, MJ and I plated all the hot food and encouraged everyone to eat while the food was hot. We kept some of the food hot in various crock pots. The food miraculously stayed hot while we ate and seeing the steam rise off the food was pretty entertaining. I have the recipes lined up to share in the coming days: Chicken Breast in Sherry Sauce, Stir-Fried Carrots and Zucchini, Cheesy Party Potatoes and Chocolate Pudding Cakes.
While the desserts heated up, our guests, true Minnesotans, stayed outside and congregated around the fire we built. Seriously, what troopers!
Once the dessert was finished off, I remembered to snag a picture of the group before we headed inside. What an awesomely fun group of adventurers! It was either MJ and me in the picture since I am still without a tripod. I won. :)
Then we all hustled inside to warm up.
A couple tips on outside dining in the winter:
- Wear warm clothes. Coats, hats, mittens, lined pants, boots – our guests dressed appropriately and stayed warm for the most part.
- Have a fire or some kind of heat source to help off set a little of the chill.
- Keep tableware, utensils, chairs and other dinner parts inside until the food is ready.
- Serve hot, hot food. Either time it right or keep things hot in a crock pot or oven.
- If there is wind, try to protect the eating area. Cold is cold but wind can cut like a knife.
- Cold drinks will stay cold but place warm drinks in a thermos.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the outdoor dinner party. I am still grinning ear to ear about it. The food turned out great and stayed hot. It wasn’t -10 degrees with -30 degree windchill. And our friends are some of the best people in the world. I am so thankful for their willingness to go along with my crazy ideas and to go along with enthusiasm and laughter. I’m so thankful we could celebrate with them.
In closing, a few ‘it was so cold’ lines:
It was so cold, the softened butter hardened up in about 5 minutes.
It was so cold, the surface of the water in my glass froze.
It was so cold, a few cold utensils stuck to lips and tongues, similar to licking a frozen metal pole.
It was so cold, we all agreed we’d never had such chilled drinks.
It was so cold, one guest suggested we celebrate my half birthday next time. Haha!
Happy Golden Birthday to me.