Around the House — December 29, 2014 at 5:00 am

7 Ways to Extend Your Outdoor Patio Season

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©istockphoto/Piepereit

©istockphoto/Piepereit

Late Fall and Winter often bring the sad ritual of putting up the patio furniture. As the chairs and tables disappear into the garage, it’s hard not to mourn warm nights, late parties, and quiet afternoons in the hammock. But don’t put up that patio furniture just because it’s cold outside. Here are 7 ways to extend the months you can enjoy your outdoor patio:

Only Store the Cushions
The fastest way to extend your patio season is to be ready for unseasonably warm weather. Every winter has a few warm surprise days, but they don’t last long. If your patio furniture is in the garage, you won’t want to waste time getting out and putting it back just for a few hours of use. Be ready to take advantage of unexpected warm days by only putting up your furniture cushions.

Adopt Patio Blankets
People who live in extreme northern climates have learned to enjoy the outdoors even when it’s cold. In Sweden, it’s traditional to have a rack, shelf, or basket of brightly-colored, thick fleece patio blankets. You can invest in a stash of your own just for outdoor use or just repurpose old quilts or twin-sized wool blankets. You won’t need to wash them often—if they get damp just throw them in the dryer to refresh.

Get a Patio Heater, Fire Pit or Chimnea
Having a portable outdoor heat source can extend your patio season well into the winter. A patio heater is a great way to keep crowds warm, while fire pits and chimneas come with their own charms—including the ability to make s’mores.

Keep the Space Alive
Undecorated patio spaces are sad and uninviting—and make the cold of winter that much worse. Keep your patio space alive with evergreen trees and plants and plenty of outdoor solar or electric string lights. A space that’s full of life will lure you out and enable you to enjoy your patio through winter, even if it’s just through the glass.

Define a Signature Hot Beverage
Whether it’s house-made hot chocolate, Irish coffee, smoky oolong tea, or a fantastic single malt scotch, keep a stash of your favorite warming beverage around with the sole purpose of grabbing at least 10 minutes of patio time every day.

Throw a Star-Gazing Party
Take advantage of clear winter night skies with a star-gazing party. Serve your signature warming beverage, download a constellation map app on your tablet or smartphone, and invite your friends on an enriching adventure. Don’t be afraid to crank up the reggae and grill some shrimp for good measure. An outdoor party, no matter how brief, is a great way to stave off cabin fever for another week.

Embrace Wackiness
It’s easy to get in a winter rut of staying inside and watching TV until the snow melts for good. Be the couple that has ski-jacket happy hours; be the guy who runs the martini flag up the pole in January; be the family that grills hamburgers in a snowstorm. Unless it’s dangerously cold outside, a fun-loving attitude goes a long way towards embracing your patio year-round.

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