The holidays are here, and chances are very good that you either already have plans or are making plans for your own gatherings. Either way, why not consider using your outdoor living space for your holiday parties this year? Whether you have a fire pit or an outdoor fireplace, you have a convenient area for gatherings, big or small. Using our fire pits and fireplaces for outdoor gatherings is a tradition for the J&S Landscaping team. So today we’re sharing some tips that we’ve learned during our own celebrations that will make your outdoor holiday party memorable and more fun. We’re also offering the following tips to those who don’t yet have a fire pit or fireplace and are considering which one best fits their needs.

Have a fire pit or fireplace?

How you set up your party will be affected by whether you have a fire pit or fireplace. Both are equally wonderful additions to outdoor gatherings and with just a little tweaking, based on the layout of your outdoor living space, you’ll create the perfect space for your guests and family to celebrate. But both come with caveats.

If you have a fireplace:

  • Unlike a fire pit, people will all be seated in front of your fireplace, so you need to consider the number of rows and their placement so your guests will all benefit from the warmth and beauty of the fire.
  • The smoke goes up the chimney, so your guests won’t get smoke in their faces. They can safely and comfortably sit closer to the fireplace than a fire pit.
  • Fireplaces are usually placed at the edge of patios or outdoor living spaces, making it easy to set up entertainment areas. You can make full use of your patio without worrying about crowding guests together.
  • A fireplace provides a ready-made backdrop for live music, storytelling, or a speaker. It’s also great for games like charades.

If you have a fire pit:

  • People can encircle a fire pit. This makes setting up seating for a group simple, but you’ll want to encourage guests (especially children) to avoid getting too close. However, if you have a seating wall that encloses it—and we recommend this—it’s less of a concern.
  • Fire pits are conducive to game playing and group discussions since everyone faces each other. If you’ve got a musician in the group, then nobody is stuck trying to see over the top of someone else’s head.
  • If you’ve chosen chairs instead of a seating wall, you need to consider the proximity of seating to the fire pit to avoid too much smoke in guests’ faces while still allowing them to enjoy the warmth. This also has the advantage of adding or subtracting seats based on the size of your gathering.
  • Wood burning fire pits are perfect for grilling, cooking marshmallows, and satisfying our very human inclination to poke at the fire with sticks.

Comfort And Ambiance

The key to successful outdoor holiday celebrations is comfort and ambiance. Both fire pits and fireplaces come with both built in. Warmth and beauty all in one place! What more can you ask for?

With just a little forethought, outdoor holiday decorating is easy! You can find affordable decorations and table cloths at bargain shops, rummage sales, and thrift stores. Try stringing battery-powered fairy lighting or vintage-looking Christmas lights in your trees or around your pavilion or fence. Perhaps, decorate a fun Christmas tree with edible treats or vintage-looking ornaments. You can even set up a station that lets guests make their own decorations to hang on the tree and then let them take them home at the end of the evening. Stringing popcorn and candy or a variety of beads for garland is a timeless memory-making activity, enjoyed by adults and children alike.

Don’t forget the music! Put together a playlist of holiday favorites mixed with a few newer songs and play them softly in the background.

Leave throws, cushions, and some inexpensive mittens out for guests who have difficulty staying warm. If your layout requires using a space that isn’t close to the fire pit or fireplace, consider an outdoor heater or two.

J&S Landscaping Fire Pit

Food and fun

When it comes to food, don’t compromise, but don’t complicate it. There are plenty of easy-to-prepare dishes and drinks for outdoor celebrations. Stews, soups, and chilis are great Christmas foods that please any crowd. Just set up crock pots on the table with crackers or chips and thick bowls. Hot apple cider, hot cocoa, coffee with fancy creamers, and tea are sure to please your guests. Add a few sandwich makings and simple desserts and you’ve got a party!

If you have a wood burning fire pit or fireplace, you can set up shish kabob  stations for your guests to roast their own combinations of vegetables and meats. Just make sure the kids are well-supervised! And don’t forget the s’mores!

When you go looking for activities, keep it simple for the sake of everyone. As much fun as some bloggers make it sound, complicated crafts and games that require a lot of explanation and set up can kill the mood you’re trying to create as well as exhaust the host and hostess. Here are some simple ideas that everyone can enjoy.

 Location! Location! Location!

It only takes a little planning and forethought to ensure that your guests have a great time at an outdoor party when it’s chilly outside. Fire pits and fireplaces lend themselves well to this kind of gathering.

It’s a balancing act, but be sure and set activity and food stations up close—but not too close—to your sources of heat so that participants can enjoy both without feeling crowded or deprived.  You want people to be able to chat with one another and enjoy whatever they’re doing at the same time.



The team at J&S Landscaping would love to help! It might be too late to fulfill your dream this year, but if you schedule with us right now, you’ll have the fire place or firepit you’re picturing in time for next holiday season.

J&S Landscaping is a member of the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association. We provide top-notch lawn care and support for plants, trees, and shrubs. And everything we purchase and plant for you has a one-year guarantee.

We are certified by the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute to install paver patios & walkways, brick paver driveways, retaining walls and more. We are an authorized contractor for Belgard and we’re so confident of our work that we certify our installations for two years. All of our crews are carefully trained, certified, and bonded.

Call today to learn more about what our company can do for you!