Savannah Marie searches for the best restaurants, wildlife and attractions that Harrisburg has to offer.
It always seems as though everyone is trying to fit in the last summer bash before the end of August rolls around. People often think of the end of summer as the end of fun parties—save for the holidays. Personally, it's my favorite time of year. When else can you have the best of both worlds? Think about it; the leaves are changing, creating one of the most gorgeous backdrops from Mother Nature, while the weather is wonderfully mild and temperate. Plus, who doesn't like to get a little cozy with some great friends and family?
Fall is the perfect time to throw a wonderful dinner feast for your favorite people. However, with the hustle and bustle of this time of year (sports, yard work, maximizing outdoor time), it becomes very daunting to think about planning a feast and donning your host hat. Yet, how can you possibly ignore that beautiful mahogany leaf table that can seat anywhere from 4 to 10 of your loved ones? Think of all the fun times and laughs you've shared. That'll hopefully be enough motivation to throw a little fall soiree. In the meantime, here are 7 tips that will help prepare you for a cozy fall feast.
1. Channel Your Inner Party Planner
In order to have a successful gathering, planning is essential. I’ve found making lists and getting all of my ducks in a row really gives me an idea of how the night will pan out. Determine the number of guests you'd like to have and check out your available space. Then, spend time looking up great fall family recipes or diving into Pinterest and plan a menu. (You can always display your menu so your guests can have a wonderful dining experience.) If you struggle with planning on the fly, choose a theme to fit your fall feast to narrow your ideas. Always anticipate the best and worst situations while you prepare in advance.
2. Expand Your Circle of Friends and Family
Think outside the circle when creating a guest list. Maybe there is a little group of friends who always get together and it seems a little too exclusive for you. Often times, I consider who would most likely get along with my small clique of friends and go from there. My cousin probably would have a lot to talk about with my best friend, considering they are both teachers. Mix it up and invite different friends and family members. After all, there is one common denominator...you!
3. Set the Tone for an Evening of Camaraderie
Believe it or not, lighting is one of the best ways to invite your guests to a cozy little dinner feast. Our days get shorter in the fall, and it's nice to have some mood lighting to keep the party going. Dim the lights and utilize some colorful fall candles to illuminate the table. You can opt for unscented candles to let your food permeate the room or go with a light cinnamon or spice candle. Also, make sure the temperature of your home is just right. Remember that it tends to get rather warm when a group of people occupy a smaller space. Turn your thermostat to cool in preparation for a home full of guests and hot food.
4. Capitalize on Your Drinks and Appetizers
Let's be honest, your guests are hungry when they arrive. Therefore, prepare a one-pot meal, but make a few appetizers to satiate your guests before the meal. Try some fall favorites like Butternut, Goat Cheese and Walnut Spread, Sweet Potato Bites and some Hard, Hot Apple Cider. That way, if you prepare a soup and salad, your guests won't still be hungry. It will also save money so you can splurge on dessert.
5. Serve up Some Fall Favorites
Some great foods come to mind when fall rolls around: butternut squash, pumpkin, corn, apples and harvest vegetables. Go to a local market for the best, fresh fall produce. With your arsenal of autumn harvest, serve up a tasteful soup or stew as this will not only put a smile on your guests’ face, but will also warm their hearts and stomachs. When in doubt, pull out all the stops with a delicious apple cobbler or pumpkin roll.
6. Embellish Simply
Fall always reminds me of the simpler times with a little country feel. Instead of fancy glasses, serve water in mason jars and decorate with some simple faux, fall foliage. If you want to get a little fancy, label your appetizers and make place cards. Just remember, you don't have to overdo it.
7. Fall in and Enjoy
Who says the party has to stop at the dinner table? Take advantage of the cool fall air and utilize your patio furniture one last time. Set up a little chimneria or bon fire in your backyard and grab some blankets and a couple of fall-inspired microbrews or mulled wine. Let the night roll and let your guests enjoy each others' company and conversation. Put down those dishes and don't forget to join in and let yourself relax. You can always clean up later.
Always remember being the perfect host means to live in the moment and revel in your hard work.