1. Consolidate the snow by boot-stomping a patch of ground about six feet by eight feet (adjust size to accommodate party needs). This “work hardening” of the snow will make the walls and table more solid once you dig the hole.
2. With a shovel, excavate a hole three to four feet deep with benches along the outer perimeter and a stairwell. Leave an uncut, rectangular snow block in the center, to serve as a table. When cooking atop it, place a piece of insulation (such as cardboard or foam wrapped in aluminum foil) under the stove, so you don’t melt the table.
3. For a roof, suspend a tarp above you or bring a floorless tent. With the latter, the hole you’ve dug should be about eight inches smaller all around than your shelter’s footprint (to keep out spindrift). Rig the shelter’s center pole on the center block.
4. Insulate the benches with foam sleeping pads, suspend a headlamp from a pole stuck in the center table, and dine in style.