Fall is Here
Here in Texas fall has finally arrived. I love fall and everything that comes with it: Pumpkin spice, apple cider, the colors of falling leaves, cooler temperatures. My spirit wants to reflect and gather loved ones together, to sit by a fire and roast marshmallows or create caramel apples. I know many of you love fall too. For me it is a wonderful time to give thanks and to be grateful. My favorite way to bring people together during this time of year is to throw a harvest party. Grab a pumpkin spiced latte or some apple cider and come sit with me for a bit. I want to share some fun ideas and a few easy projects that will help your next party be “fall fabulous”.
At the beginning of each party, do a brainstorming session to find your inspiration and get ideas. I tend to look at Pinterest for weeks, and stroll through stores like Joanne’s or Michael’s. You never know when a paper plate or a collection of scrapbook paper will give you the inspiration for your entire party. I came across this cute owl plate in Joanne’s one day and that was all I needed. I had a vision! My owl plate is no longer available but here is a similar one. You can plan a party in navy and burnt orange. It will be beautiful!
Once you have your inspiration, begin by designing the tablescape. Based on the colors of the plates, decide on a tablecloth, and experiment with various toppers incorporating texture and interest as you go. Let’s go through it one step at a time.
I am a fan of fabric tablecloths. Fabric tablecloths are heavier than plastic covers, and they stay put in the breeze. They aren’t too expensive and they add a bit of class. If you purchase neutrals you can reuse them repeatedly. I have bought several for parties and weddings from the Tablecloth Factory. If you need help deciding what size tablecloth to use, click here for a handy visual. If you are on a budget or want easy clean up, you can always purchase plastic table covers.
To add another layer to your table, top the first tablecloth with a runner or topper. This adds some contrast in color and you can incorporate some additional texture. I made the burlap runners shown for my first harvest party and it turns out burlap is surprisingly easy to work with. You can purchase the material here. To cut burlap straight, pull a string or two to give you a nice cutting line.
While at Joanne’s, I found a double-sided cloth runner that went well with my owl plates. I figured I would use both sides eventually, so it was worth the investment. I put this over the burlap runner (see table picture above).
You can purchase leaf garlands for each table, and add some colorful chargers and coordinating paper dinner plates to pull everything together. For the final additions, fill mason jars with bird seed and battery operated candles, make easy napkin rings out of paper and twine, and use faux pumpkins for the centers. Lastly, print out these beautiful thankful scriptures from Ann Voskamp and tie to some votive candles for guests to take home after the party.
You can invite people to your party in a variety of ways. I know the physical invitation in the mail is a little old school, but it adds a very nice, custom touch in this electronic world. You can create invitations in a variety of ways. Party City can create custom invitations that look professional. You might also decide to make a homemade invitation. Here is one with an owl. You can create these with your Cricut Maker, or use an owl punch, paper and photo adhesives. Get your kids together and make them for a fun family project.
Caramel Apple Bar
The caramel apple bar is a must at all my harvest parties and it makes adults happy as well as kids! You can come up with all sorts of toppings and sauces for your apples. It is easier and less messy (for kids) if you do the sprinkling while they point out what they want. I made labels out of card stock and holders out of corks and small wood circles. Colorful pennants (pictured above) were cut by hand out of coordinating scrapbook paper and pre-cut letters to make a cute sign. You can also provide these to go boxes so people could take their apple creations home.
Pumpkin Carving or Painting
What is a harvest party without pumpkins? You can provide tools and templates to inspire guests to get creative with their pumpkins. One year we did a carving table and all the dads sat down to help their kids carve pumpkins. Soon, the kids ran off to play, and the dads were the ones left carving. I think they had more fun than the kids! Another year we did painting instead of carving. You can provide aprons so people won’t mess up their clothes. I collected a variety of templates and put them in several booklets so kids could choose which design they wanted. Here are some that you can print out for free. We also provided some nice tools for the carving. This is a set we purchased and really liked.
I live on an acre lot and do not have any trees or structures to hang lights on. My solution? Make my own light poles! My husband helped me put them together. I painted them, wrapped them in burlap and leaves, and strung lights from pole to pole. I put hay bales on top of the bases to hold the poles and to keep people from tripping over them. Then I put scarecrows on the hay bales.
Scarecrows are fun to make and can be used year after year if you bring them out of the rain. Ask your friends if they have any old jeans or shirts they can donate to your project, or go to a thrift store. This would also make a good project to do at the harvest party. You could divide into teams and see who makes the best one. Here is a tutorial to give you an idea of how to make a scarecrow. I stuffed mine with plastic instead of straw so they would last longer and not mold.
Food bars are a great way to feed a crowd. A chili bar is fun with corn chips, cilantro, sour cream, cheese, and chives. You could also do a hotdog bar, or a taco bar… you get the idea. For my first harvest party, I made Martha Stewart’s Homemade Macaroni and Cheese and kept sloppy Joes warm in a crock pot. This was delicious and relatively easy. Beef stew would also be good. You can have guests bring side dishes or desserts. Let your imagination run wild. You’ve got dessert taken care of with the caramel apples!
These beverage dispensers are great at parties and can really help you handle beverages with ease. Fill one with water and one with iced tea. You can add color by putting in thinly sliced oranges, lemons, limes, strawberries, mint, cucumber etc. Put some beer and wine in a metal bucket and fill with ice. If you want a signature cocktail, here is a fabulous recipe for caramel apple sangria from The Wholesome Dish that I can personally say is quite delicious. Hot apple cider is also a big hit. You can keep it hot in one of these air pots. (Don’t forget to provide mugs or paper cups that can handle hot drinks).
It’s always good to give the kids some fun games and activities. In addition to the pumpkin crafts, you can set up a volleyball net. You can also put out some hula hoops, horseshoes, croquet, and jump ropes. For added fun, you can hire a face painter or get a bounce house.
I hope this has given you some ideas and sparked your own inspiration for your next harvest party. Let me know your ideas and tell me about your favorite ways to enjoy fall. Thanks for stopping by. As we say in the South, “happy fall y’all!”
Be the Best YOU in 2018!
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