All the things you need to extend your outdoor entertaining into Fall

Call your friends, because the party’s not over.

Call your friends, because the party’s not over

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Remember sitting outside with your friends, eating watermelon and watching the kids ride around on their bikes until The National came on at 10? Well, snap out of it because Summer's over and it gets dark at 7 o'clock these days. Still, that shouldn't deter you from cozying up to Canada's great outdoors with the people you love. All you need to do is get a few key elements in place and convince your friends that the party's just begun.

Get fired up

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If cooler temperatures make you mad, get even by inviting all your friends over and commiserating over a roaring fire. A fire pit will not only provide enough warmth to keep your guests defrosted, it's a calming, mesmerizing focal point that sparks bright conversation. Be aware though that some municipalities in Canada do not allow wood-burning fire pits so check your local laws before you make your decision on wood, propane or gas powered.

This rustic-looking option is rust resistant, fueled by natural gas and has an electronic ignition with auto safety shut-off. The flame is also adjustable so the fire can die down at the same rate as the party. And let's face it, this fire pit looks like you chopped down a tree and lit it on fire and nothing says, "I'm a hardy Canadian, impervious to cold" quite like that.

Burning Stomp Stone Natural Gas Fire Pit Table, $1599, wayfair.ca

It’s the picture-perfect way to roast marshmallows at your intimate summer soireé! 1:35

If you're not afraid to get your hands dirty, it's pretty easy to make your own fire pit. This DIY version is durable, waterproof, and portable, so you can take it to the cottage or in the RV and fire it up anytime you want to warm up the party.

Give your guests a hug

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When your guests arrive, encourage a snuggly spirit by wrapping a blanket around each of them. You'll be less likely to hear, "I'm cold, I wanna go in" and it may encourage sharing, which is a great way for your guests to get to know each other a little better.

This chic wool blanket is 100% virgin wool and machine wash and dryable so if it ends up being left outside overnight, it's no big deal.

Pure & Simple Wool Blanket, $150, faribaultmill.com

For those who prefer something more casual, consider this Canada Map Outdoor Blanket; it's water resistant and it'll encourage conversation about all the beaches in this great country you'd like to visit when the weather's nice.

Outdoor Blanket - Canada Map, $14.50, chapters.indigo.ca

Have fun with the dark

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The sun might not be burning as brightly as it did in July but don't let that keep your party in the dark. Get creative with solar lights and simple DIY candle ideas.

Wind fall-inspired string lights along fences, tree branches and hang them from a pergola. Choose the type with a battery backup for overcast days and they'll provide just the right amount of mood lighting for gatherings that extend into the wee hours of the night.  

Autumn Leaf String Lights, $40.81, potterybarn.ca

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Paper bag luminaries are a simple way to make an outdoor space glow and they couldn't be easier to make. Buy a number of translucent paper bags at your local craft store, line each with about 2 inches of sand or kitty litter to give them stability and nestle an LED tea light into the centre. Use them to light up a path from the house to the fire pit so everyone can easily find their way in the dark.

Embrace the darkness and have a little fun with these number sparklers. Have your guests draw a number randomly and challenge them to come up with that many reasons to love a Canadian winter before their sparkler runs out of gas.

Number Sparklers - Zero to Nine, $3.95 each, putti.ca

Rosé all night

The fire's lit, the lighting is flattering, your friends, wrapped in blankets, are having a laugh — hmmmm… what's missing? A cocktail of course. And what better beverage to straddle the summer and winter seasons than a Mulled Rosé? This simple cocktail is made in a slow cooker so your friends can help themselves.The pale pink colour and grapefruit will evoke fond memories of summer while the cinnamon and cranberries get your mouth ready for the Holiday season. Baby steps friends, baby steps.

S'more reasons to stay up late

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It's not quite time to roast chestnuts so reward those who stay past the witching hour (and may have the munchies) with a S'mores Station. Equipped with everything you need to roast marshmallows and dress them to the nines with candy, nuts, sprinkles (and whatever else your sweet tooth craves), this interactive element will not only encourage competition, the local raccoons will enjoy the bits left behind long after your guests have gone.  


Portia Corman is the executive producer of CBC Life.

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