Monterra News!

December 31, 2023

Monterra: Winter Chilling and Grilling

Families living in Monterra, an upscale master-planned community just minutes from downtown Dallas, know how to throw a party. They enjoy hot summer days by the pool, hiking and biking through Monterra’s miles of nature trails, and opportunities for outdoor living in its tastefully landscaped green spaces.  Spending time outside is part of the community design, and homes in Monterra reflect this aesthetic, with landscaping that extends far beyond the typical curb appeal.

What happens to outdoor living when temperatures begin to drop, and the sun goes down as people are driving home from work? If you’re like most of us, you’re starting to feel cooped up inside the house. Maybe you’re developing a bad case of winter blues?

One sure-fire remedy for the winter blues is to host a backyard party. Don’t let chilly nights stop you! With a little bit of planning, it’s possible to enjoy the great outdoors and keep your guests warm and cozy, too. 

Light My Fire

Is there anything more magical than the warmth, comfort, and social connection that comes from sitting around a fire with others? It’s easy to keep everyone toasty by investing in a backyard fire pit, chiminea, or fire pit table. Many models are reasonably inexpensive and become a welcome extension to your hearth and home. 

To build a fire, build a base with split logs – which burn more easily than round logs -kindling, and newspaper. Next, moving from the inside out, add larger logs in a tent shape, and toss in a few more pieces of newspaper. Plan to start the fire ten minutes before the guests arrive.

Other options include patio heaters, which can be either purchased or rented for the night. Propane-fueled fire pits are another good alternative allowing friends and family to enjoy the ambience of a winter party. Consider outdoor curtains or screens to keep the heat in a central area.

Pull Up a Chair

When planning a winter party, try to avoid metal seats. They tend to pull heat away from the body. If possible, supply blankets and outdoor pillows to keep guests’ backs warm. For example, Mexican serapes are inexpensive and can be used for outdoor gatherings year-round. Remind your guests to dress appropriately and layer their clothing to retain body heat.

Starry, Starry Night

In the winter months, the sky is at its most clear, especially in North Texas.  Astronomers refer to it as the “observing season.” This makes it the perfect time for star gazing, viewing planets, and even the occasional meteor! Why not ask your guests to bring their binoculars? 

Dance the night away! People stay warm when they’re moving and grooving. Make sure to include music that gets them up out of their seats.

Days are shorter and it gets dark earlier so plan on stringing up some extra lights to brighten the night. Another fun lighting idea is to make homemade luminaries using candles and Mason jars.

A Cup of Cheer

Offer your guests hot beverages like apple cider, hot chocolate, or coffee. All can be spiked for adults or enjoyed in the non-alcoholic version. Provide koozies for cold drinks to keep your guests’ hands warm or put out a basket of hand warmers as party favors.

Mulled wine is a winter favorite. Make some ahead of time and put it in a crockpot. Mulled wine is made with dry red wine, brandy or orange liqueur, oranges, and mulling spices like cinnamon, cloves, and star anise. Don’t forget to add the honey.

Some Like It Hot

According to Rachel Ray, television food maven, cooking up some spicy dishes will raise your body temperature – the perfect antidote for a chilly winter evening. She suggests trying queso dip mac and cheese, spicy turkey meatballs with a sweet mango glaze, or turkey poppers relleno. Thermogenesis from spicy food will automatically make people feel warmer, inside and out. 

Winter grilling is a crowd-pleaser. Use some spicy marinades on your chicken or beef. Chorizo sausage will add heat and is a delicious addition to a kabob with grilled vegetables. Make hearty soup or chili and put it in a crockpot so people can help themselves to an extra serving.

Children and adults alike love “smores,” traditional campfire treats! Smores are made by roasting marshmallows and sandwiching them with a piece of chocolate between two graham crackers. 

Get Fired Up!

The benefits of spending time outdoors make the motivation to host a winter party more inviting. Planning one is easy when you have the right tools and the right outdoor setting.

If you’re looking for the perfect home and hearth to host your own winter party, the Monterra community invites you to come and chill with us! Give us a call today!