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I’ve always enjoyed decorating for the different holidays and seasons in addition to entertaining and having friends over. So I am pleased to be able to share some ideas to liven up any autumn decorating and entertaining you may wish to do   I find it enjoyable to come up with something different every time, and the rewards are well worth it.

Fall is officially upon us, and it’s not just the leaves that are turning. Our thoughts are also turning, from barbecues and pool parties to fall soirées and Thanksgiving Day feasts. Looking for some ways to spice up your fall fetes?

Whether you are new at entertaining or are an experienced host or hostess, parties and gatherings always go better when you prepare for them. Whether it’s combing recipe books and websites in an attempt to try out new dishes or carefully considering how much space you have for entertaining, thoughtful planning is the key to a successful event:

During the summer heat, we find ourselves barbequing and preparing simple dishes so we can keep the stove off and the kitchen cool. But colder weather brings with it the chance to use our stoves to cook up some amazing meals for our guests. Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself, cooking-wise, during the fall season.   Dishes that feature pumpkin or sweet potato are a perfect way to usher in the cooler months.

With so many holidays in fall and winter, people can easily become overbooked. Select your guest list carefully to ensure an interesting and diverse mix of guests. Have a look through your social media feeds to see who had interesting experiences over the summer that you think others might enjoy hearing about.

If you plan to fall entertain, particularly during late fall, get your invitations out as soon as possible. Doing so will usually result in a better turn out.

When entertaining this fall, remember the dining room table isn’t the only place to display beautiful decorations. The buffet table or sideboards are the perfect places to go for pizazz and gusto! For an eye-catching display use hurricane vases, tall decorative vases or even baskets to display long loaves of bread, tall branches or branches from your changing foliage trees in your yard. Remember it doesn’t have to be formal. Fall is all about bringing nature indoors and celebrating the changing seasons with your friends and family.

It is also interesting to note that the beauty of fall decorating is that it can stay up all season. No worries that you aren’t entertaining, for those of you with a formal dining room. Decorate the table as if you are expecting to have a dinner party! The beautiful colors, organic centerpiece ideas, and inspiring elements will create an autumn theme you will love throughout the entire season.

There’s nothing more festive than an autumn moon, so hold your party on or around an evening when the moon is full and bright. Full moon dates this fall are October 8 and November 6. If it’s not too cool, serve cocktails or dinner outside. Drape throws in seasonal colors over the backs of the chairs for those who get chilly.

Fall weather can be tricky, so keep your eye on it as the date of your event approaches. If you live in an area where the weather in late fall can range from warm to downright wintery, don’t plan on being able to use your yard or unenclosed patio (or your grill) for entertaining your guests.

Welcome your guests with a drink that puts them in the mood for the cool, crisp days of autumn. Try a Spiced Pear Collins, which is made with gin, pear puree and rosemary.

Heat up a pot of mulled wine or spiced cider on your stove and offer a mug to your guests as they arrive. The drink is a welcome warmer after a cold trip and the scent of spices permeates your home, setting a wonderful mood.

Tip: If you plan to have an alcoholic hot beverage, make another pot of a non-alcoholic brew. Kids and guests who don’t drink will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Serve warm, earthy nibbles with squash, pears, fennel, figs, apples and other fall flavors. Butternut squash soup served in shot glasses and garnished with sage is a classic autumnal touch that looks beautiful passed on trays. Garnish your dishes and serving trays with edible fall leaves.   Serve your nibbles on leaf-shaped serving platters and choose linens in autumnal shades like gold, rust and pumpkin.

Richer meats and heartier vegetables lend themselves to slow cooking methods and advance preparation. If you’re planning a multicourse meal, start prepping foods a day or two in advance so that you aren’t franticly chopping and dicing the day of your event.

When you think of dessert at a fall gathering you probably are only thinking about what to serve, but don’t forget about creating a fall themed table that draws in your guests. Dark browns, chocolate inspired colors married with beige, and natural colors are a great backdrop for your yummy desserts. Decorate with a burlap fabric tablecloth and layer with napkins and dessert plates that compliment your delicious treats!

Create a playlist that reflects the sounds of the season. It’s a subtle but instrumental (pun intended) touch. Songs to consider are “Autumn Leaves” by Nat King Cole, “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire and “Forever Autumn” by the Moody Blues.

Reflect the bounty of fall with floral arrangements that include seasonal vegetables and herbs like chard, beets, purple artichokes, fennel blossoms, rosemary and purple basil.

Use lots of candles to make everyone look and feel gorgeous. Place votives in groups on tables to draw people together as though they’re gathering around a hearth.

As each guest leaves the party, thank them for coming and send them home with a warm hug and a thermos filled with cider or a classic caramel apple. Nostalgic touches always make people smile.

Remember to relax and have fun. If you don’t have a good time at your autumn fête, your guests won’t either.

Kathy Kiefer


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