Fall Outdoor Party Themes and Ideas


Summer may have ended, but the fall season offers just as many opportunities to entertain outdoors. With cooler temperatures, gorgeous foliage, delicious crops, and fun festivities, autumn is the perfect time to invite friends and family over for a backyard barbecue or bash. Here are three fall party ideas to keep guests entertained all season long.

Fall Harvest Party

Celebrate all of the wonderful things the fall season has to offer by throwing an outdoor harvest party. Invite friends and family to bring their best autumn-inspired dishes or consider having a harvest swap! Prepare for the crisp weather and shorter days by adding a fire pit and outdoor lighting to your patio or deck.

Harvest Party Décor

Decorate Your Yard for a Fall PartyWith all the natural colors and bounty of the season, it’s easy to decorate your yard for fall. Create a rustic harvest setting with these easy décor ideas:

Welcome guests and set the stage for your party with a festive display that illustrates all of autumn's natural splendor. Dress up a pergola or arbor with fall leaf garland, mums, and a couple scarecrows.

For a harvest-themed tablescape, purchase a piece of velvet or burlap from your local craft store and use as a table cover or table runner. Arrange a mix of gourds and potted mums down the middle of the table for a simple and festive centerpiece. You can also paint letters on the pumpkins or flower pots to spell out “HAPPY FALL” or “HARVEST.”



Photo courtesy of Frog Prince Paperie

Decorate your yard for a fall party with seasonal touches like pumpkins and mums
Decorate the rest of the outdoor space with seasonal touches. Pile pumpkins and mums around trees; place bales of hay around the patio (cover the hay bales with a blanket or fabric so guests can use them as seats); bundle dried cornstalks together and tie them to the posts of a pergola or gazebo.

For evening gatherings, add charming candleholders to the tablescape by cutting the tops off of small gourds or apples, then carving out circular pockets and placing tea lights inside. Drape throw blankets or afgans in fall hues or motifs (think plaid, leaves, owls, pumpkins, etc.) over chairs; guests can use them to keep warm at night. 


Photo courtesy of Worthing Court,
www.worthingcourtblog.com

To add more festive flair, make a garland of Indian corn to hang along the fence or deck: Plot dried ears of corn* (with the husks attached and pulled back) about 6 to 8 inches apart on a piece of twine or raffia. Once in place, use pieces of twine or floral wire to attach the ears of corn to the twine, tying it around each piece where the husk meets the cob. (*Dried ears of corn can be found at your local farmer’s market or grocery store. You can also dry fresh ears of corn by placing them in a mesh bag and hanging them outside or in an area with low moisture and humidity. Corn will dry in approximately three weeks.)



Harvest Party Food


From apples to pumpkins, the fall harvest offers a bountiful buffet of sweet and savory flavors. Create a party menu that embodies the season with these autumn-inspired foods and recipes.


Food for a Fall Harvest PartyCrudités - Visit your local farmer’s market and buy an array of seasonal fruits and vegetables. They not only make for an easy appetizer but add tons of fall color to your buffet table.

Editor's Tip: Dress up your buffet with mini pumpkins, leaves, acorns and pinecones. Include decorative food labels so guests can easily identify dishes (check out Frog Prince Paperie for printable party supplies).

Photo courtesy of Frog Prince Paperie

Harvest Chicken Salad – Give regular chicken salad an autumn makeover my adding chopped apples, pecans, celery, and pomegranate seeds (arils) to the mix. Serve with whole grain baguette slices or crackers.

Apricot-Dijon Pork SaladApricot-Dijon Pork Salad – This is a perfect transitional dish between summer and fall. Summer apricots and tart cherries add beautiful fall color and natural sweetness to the salad, while the Dijon mustard and ginger dressing lend a warm and spicy flavor. Get the recipe >>

Fall Ratatouille – No harvest party would be complete without this quintessential fall vegetable dish. This recipe features a medley of late-summer/early fall vegetables, cheese, and sun-dried tomato vinaigrette. Get the full recipe >>

Caramel Apples – Combine food and fun by setting up a caramel apple-dipping station: Display skewered apples on a bale of hay for easy picking. Use a disposable chafing dish to keep the caramel warm and ready for dipping. Set up a line of plastic bowls (with spoons) at the end of the table and fill with yummy toppings like chopped nuts, chocolate chips, candy bar pieces, graham cracker crumbs, sprinkles, and crushed cookies.

Recipe and photo courtesy of National Pork Board

Apple Cider – Serve this delectable fall drink in a pumpkin punch bowl: Hollow out a large pumpkin, removing all the seeds and scraping out the pulp from the sides. Pour in apple cider and garnish with apple slices and cinnamon sticks. Use mason jars for drinking glasses to add a rustic touch!




Harvest Party Games and Activities

Complete your harvest party with a host of festive fall games that feature the bounty of the season.

Harvest Party Games and ActvitiesCorn shucking contest – Divide ears of corn evenly among guests and see who can finish shucking their pile the fastest. Award the winner with a homemade treat, such as apple cranberry granola bars or a loaf of pumpkin cornbread. After the game, throw all the shucked ears of corn on the grill for a tasty treat.

Bobbing for Apples – You can also go for a twist on this classic game. Hang apples from tree branches by tying a string around the stems. Guests then have to try and bite the apple without using their hands. The first one to eat their apple wins.

Pumpkin bowling – Use a pumpkin as a bowling ball (pick one that’s not too heavy or too big) and use soda bottles as pins (fill them with some sand to weigh them down).

Pumpkin Bocce – Use a medium-sized pumpkin as the pallino and small gourds for the bocce balls. Very the type or color of the gourds among the different teams to keep accurate score. 

Photo courtesy of Frog Prince Paperie