Are you feeling cabin fever thanks to the long nights and cold days? Disappointed that gardening season is over until the snow melts? Lots of lovers of the outdoors (who aren’t very keen on the cold) feel trapped indoors come winter, but with a winter garden, you don’t have to give up your treasured backyard space just because it’s cold out.

The first place to start is lighting. With the long nights, you want to add some festive lighting to your winter garden so you can appreciate it even in the winter months. You can use white or blue holiday lights, paper lanterns, or even tealights in mason jars hanging from the branches of your backyard tree. For brighter sources of light, spotlights or well lights can illuminate your backyard throughout the winter and make it a more inviting space all year-round.

No garden is complete without some plants and flowers. Start with evergreen shrubs you can keep in pots outside even in the snow:

  • Daphne plants: these plain-leaved or variegated shrubs flower in the late winter and early spring and provide some welcome relief after months of cold.
  • Lavender: an evergreen shrub that will add rich scents and majestic colors to your garden come flowering season.
  • Holly: a Christmas favorite, holly contrasts dark green leaves with bright red berries that will light up your garden on those dark nights.
  • Photinia: also known as “Red Robin,” young plants have bright red leaves that mature into a dark green.

You don’t have to keep your winter garden to yourself, either. With the Christmas lights, heaters, a fire pit, and an enclosed gazebo, you can even entertain in your winter garden. A winter wonderland-themed party is a great excuse to indulge in winter-themed cocktails and hearty craft porters and stouts. There are plenty of great winter cocktails out there:

  • Hot Toddy: all you need is some hot water, bitters, lemon juice, cognac, and rum. Keep the kettle on for this crowd-pleaser.
  • Winter Margarita: using egg white to give this margarita body transforms your favourite summer-time drink into a winter-friendly cocktail. Split the base half-and-half between tequila and mezcal to add a smoky undertone.
  • Aquavit Manhattan: aquavit is a traditional Scandinavian spirit made with caraway. It has a unique flavor that goes well with the cold weather. Traditionally consumed slowly out of a shot glass, aquavit gets a contemporary twist when you add sweet vermouth, cherry liqueur, and a few dashes of Angostura.

If you have a gazebo in your backyard, you’re already half-way to hosting an incredible winter backyard party. A closed-off, permanent gazebo is a great start, but curtains or a tarp can help shelter your guests from the winter winds, too. There are all kinds of gazebos you can look up online, including all-season options. String white winter lights from your back patio to your gazebo (and keep the walk shoveled) to create a welcoming, fairy-like pathway between the two areas. Turn your gazebo into a bar and dining area with rustic wood tables or even waterproof patio furniture that’s built for the elements. Missing a few too many chairs to comfortably host everyone outside? You can have winter-proof patio chairs delivered by an online home store in a matter of days.

Don’t get stuck inside just because of the temperatures. A winter garden with cold-weather evergreens can keep your backyard beautiful even in the snow.