Outdoor living doesn’t have to end when summer does! Fall is a beautiful time of year. Leaves are changing color and falling to the ground, the air is fresh and crisp, and fall flowers and crops are in bloom. Enjoy this time of year even more by throwing a fabulous outdoor fall party.
Outdoor Living for Fall Fun
Use the fall colors, scents and nature as inspiration for your big fall party. Planning and preparation are the key to any good party, and throwing an outdoor fall party is no different. There are certain things that you need to take in to consideration, especially the weather (unpredictable as it may be). But if you follow all or most of these tips from Improvements, your fall outdoor party will be fun, successful and guests will be left wondering when the next autumn celebration at your casa is!
Pick an Outdoor Fall Party Theme
Fall has a lot happening, which opens the floodgates of theme ideas. You can throw a harvest party utilizing pumpkins, apples and leaves as inspiration. Fall is known for football so that can be your theme. Back to school and Oktoberfest are great themes too. So the first thing you need to do is decide on your fall party theme. Once that is in place, you can work on the rest of the outdoor party ideas.
Deck the Halls with Fall-Inspired Decor
Of course, you need to stick to the theme with your decorations, but since you’re outdoors and at the mercy of Mother Nature, it is best to keep it simple. Any decor that is weatherproof is a smart choice. If you don’t have a covered patio, make sure to utilize a tent, sun shades or patio umbrellas to ensure some type of coverage or place for guests to get out of the sun or rain.
Use theme-inspired tablecloths, and match plastic dinnerware and drinkware to the tablescape and theme. Don’t worry about using “real” plates, glasses or silverware. Color choices in paper and plastic are endless and can match any decor easily. Plus, it saves you time on cleanup! (You get extra points for using biodegradable options. Make sure to put out a clearly labeled recycle bin for guests too.) Keep the centerpieces minimalistic as well. It can be as simple as a pumpkin or gourd. A leaf wreath around a vase with a candle is great too. Don’t do anything large that will block guests from talking back and forth and don’t do anything that can easily be ruined in the rain, wind or weather. Simple is elegant and easier for you, too!
Hang banners, streamers, and other fall-themed decor. Make sure everything is tethered down and adhered securely just in case the wind picks up.
Use nature as your decor. Make a wreath with leaves, pine cones and more. Create a “Welcome” sign with pumpkins and hay bales. Hay bales are great for fall parties. They make great decor and can be used as extra seating in a pinch. Bonsu tip: Donate hay bales to a local farm or animal shelter after your party is over.
Be creative and go to your local party center for inspiration and see what you can make on your own!
Plan a Fall Food Frenzy
Again, keep it simple and on the theme. Don’t be afraid to throw a potluck either! Most guests enjoy bringing something to the party, whether it’s an appetizer, bottle of wine or dessert, they don’t need to come empty-handed.
Grilling is always a great option for outdoor events, but it can be time-consuming for the host. Cook as much in advance as you can if you’re opting to grill out so you don’t miss your whole party. Ribs, pulled pork, and brisket can all be slow-cooked in the oven or smoker prior to crisping up on the grill. They make good outdoor menu options for fall too.
But don’t think you have to grill just because you’re outside. Casseroles and sheet pan chicken or vegetable dishes are great too! Anything roasted, grilled or warm is a fantastic fall dish. Choose your favorite flavors that tie into your theme and create a dish around those.
Utilize apples or pumpkin in your dishes. Pumpkin pie or apple cobbler are classic desserts, but you can also do baked or grilled apples (or pears) with goat cheese and honey. Roasted pumpkin, butternut squash or acorn squash make great side dishes or a fabulous addition to a crisp fall salad.
Have a Signature Cocktail or Two
Have some fun while sticking to your theme. You may even want to go with two signature cocktails. One warm and one chilled (alcohol is optional on both) so you are ready to go from day to night as the weather cools off. Make a hot chocolate bar for a family-friendly warm-up. You can easily make your favorite hot chocolate in your crock pot drink then put out marshmallows, cinnamon sticks, whipped cream, chocolate chips and caramel sauce as toppings. Include whipped-cream-flavored vodka, marshmallow-flavored vodka, Bailey’s Irish Creme, peppermint schnapps and espresso-flavored tequila for the grownups. This same idea can be copied for hot apple cider as well.
Ideas for chilled drinks are plentiful. Make sure to include flavors of fall for your signature cocktail. Make a lovely fall-inspired apple and plum sangria by mixing 16 ounces of apple cider, 1 bottle of pinot grigio, 4 ounces of gin and cut-up apples and plums (as many as you want). Add ice, stir and enjoy.
Fall craft beers are a great choice too, especially if you want to stick with just bottles and cans. Pumpkin ales, rye ales, Oktoberfest, brown ales, black lagers are good options. IPAs are always a hit and many craft breweries make new ones seasonally. Go with local craft brews. Ask guests to bring their favorites and you can do a beer tasting or beer swap too!
Prepare for Mother Nature
Fall weather can mean just about anything, especially depending on where you are located. It may be warm during the day but get chilly at night or it could be brisk all day. Plan for the weather whatever it may be. If you are in a warmer climate, ensure the air is still circulating so put out a fan or two. Even warmer climates may get chilly at night, have a few extra sweatshirts, jackets or blankets for guests in case they forget their own.
Get an outdoor heater for the occasion. If you have a large party area, more than one heater may be necessary. These can be purchased or rented. If your city allows it and you have ample room, plan a bonfire or get an outdoor fire pit or fire column. (Plus, a wood or charcoal fire pit allows your guests to make some fall-favorite s’mores!) You want your guests to remain comfortable and not have weather force them to leave early.
Prepare for rain. Use tents, sun shades or patio umbrellas to allow for a quick escape. If the rain is persistent, ensure your indoors is ready to use as a backup. Make sure you have ample seating.
The biggest thing to remember when planning an outdoor fall party is that you cannot control the weather so don’t stress out about it. Just go with the flow!
Make Your Invitations Informative
Your invitations, whether electronic or snail-mail, don’t need to be fancy. Keep it on the theme and give guests all the pertinent information, like date, time and location. Make it very clear upfront that the party is outdoors. This way guests will understand they need to dress appropriately for the weather. Make sure to let guests know if there is a weather-alternative date or if the event is rain or shine. If you plan to serve a sit-down meal, note that as well and make sure to specify a time that the meal will be served. If you’re planning a more relaxed meal or allowing guests to eat at their leisure, then no time for the meal is necessary.
To RSVP or not to RSVP? If you need a head count, then make sure you let guests know to RSVP by a certain date. If you are more casual and don’t care, make note of that as well. Multiple contact options for RSVPing are optimal. Give a phone number (make sure to mention if text messages are OK) and email address. This is where electronic invites come in handy. They track your guest list for you!
Keep Guests Entertained
Plan some fall-themed activities. Have a couple of footballs available for tossing around. Put out some backyard games for your guests to play. Corn hole is always a good option. Additionally, horseshoes and bocce ball can also be played in the fall too. Let kids bob for apples or have potato sack races. Make a pumpkin painting patch for the kids as well.
Make sure to have some board games available in case the party has to move indoors. Always have music on hand. Use a Bluetooth® speaker so your guests can sync to it choose some of the playlists too.
Most importantly, if you’re hosting a sporting event or there’s a game on, show it. Just because you are outdoors doesn’t mean you can’t have a TV or outdoor theater to watch the game on. You can also make a slideshow of pictures and add to it during the party too!
Outdoor Living Means Lighting the Night
The sun goes down a little earlier come fall. Prepare for it! Ensure you enough lighting for guests to see what they are doing. While lighting is definitely functional, lighting can also be fun as well. Hang string lights along patio railings, awnings or around umbrella or light posts. Hang globe lights or lanterns from trees. Ensure the pathway to and from the party area is well lit. Do so with pathway markers or rope lighting. Keep the bar and food area well lit so guests are always comfortable grabbing a bite to eat or having another drink. In this same regard, have the garbage area lit so people know where to throw their trash. Don’t forget to turn the house light on and perhaps put a nightlight in the bathroom as well.
Keep the Bugs From Crashing the Party
Throwing an outdoor party is always fun but often has a few party crashers. But with outdoor living comes the things that live outdoors – bugs! Wasp traps and bug zappers are great to keep guests from getting stung. Utilize citronella candles or mosquito traps to keep guests from itching. Put out bug spray for guests to use if necessary. Tiki torches that burn citronella or bonfires that burn a bundle of sage are great mosquito repellents too.
Cover food to keep the bugs out. Consider setting up the buffet or food table indoors so you don’t have to worry about buggy invaders. Try bug netting or insect-repellent outdoor curtains to put around certain areas or your whole patio if you can.
The most important tip of all: Have fun! Don’t let your party go by without enjoying it. Often hosts/hostesses worry about everything and forget that they should enjoy the event too. Don’t let that be you! Prepare as much in advance as possible for everything, accept help from your friends and family if they offer it during the party, and don’t fret about the details that you cannot control. Relax, have fun and your guests will too.
Don’t let the fall drive you indoors. There is still plenty of good days and nights to enjoy some outdoor living. Fall parties are perfect for hosting outdoors as long as you are prepared. Make sure guests stay warm, hydrated, comfortable, entertained and full with these fall outdoor party tips. What is your favorite thing about outdoor fall parties or are there any good tips that we missed? Share in the comments!