As the weather begins to cool off and the leaves change colours, Autumn gives us the chance to embrace warmer, cozier dishes and décor. It’s a change of pace and a chance to create a different vibe from a typical gathering.
While you may choose to hold your dinner party outdoors, it probably won’t revolve around a barbecue or a bucket of beers. It’s softer. If you’re planning an Autumn dinner party, here are some top tips for a casual party everyone will enjoy.
A grazing table
No matter the season, a grazing table is always a welcome addition to any dinner party. It’s your opportunity to select the best of a particular time of year, putting together a snacking station so visually appealing your guests will forget there’s an entree on its way. Don’t worry, your entree will win them over once it arrives. But, in the meantime, there are fresh snacks to be had.
Food is just one way we connect to nature, and by choosing seasonal products for your grazing table, you are getting the freshest produce possible. The best part about a grazing table is that there are no set rules.
How you organise your table is up to you.
You can slice and dice fruits, organise wheels of cheese and biscuits, make dips to enhance the flavour of seasonal crudités, and decorate the table with fresh herbs and gourds.
Alternatively, you can opt for a dessert grazing table and build the sweetest snacking station anyone can imagine. You might even consider hiring a professional to create the grazing table for you – it’ll take a lot of the pressure off and you’ll have more time to enjoy the event.
Setting the menu and the table
It’s easy to get caught up building what you believe is the ultimate menu, but what’s on offer at the market is more important.
As mentioned above, take your cue from what’s in season. Know your autumnal fruits and vegetables and use that knowledge to create your menu.
Think about how you can use root vegetables to create a starter soup. The herbs you can use to season your protein entrée.
The vegetables serve as sides and the fresh fruit that accompanies dessert. Nature knows what’s best for you, all you need to do is listen to it.
A dinner party can be as formal or as casual as the host desires, but autumn is inherently comfortable.
- Let your table setting reflect the change in seasons.
- Keep it simple with crisp white tableware and incorporate autumn colours into the décor.
- Your centrepiece is the perfect opportunity for the pop of colour you want.
- Use flowers for they are amazing for your mental health, but why not go crazy with a herbal centrepiece?
Basil, mint, sage, and thyme all look as amazing as they smell. You can buy bunches of herbs for your menu and use the extras to decorate your table. It will look great, smell great, and it won’t block your view of the people across the table.
As simple as you plan to set your table, finish the look with place cards so everyone knows where to sit.
Be sure to place jugs of water on the table so guests can serve themselves as they wish.
The beverage station
So, unless you plan to hire a bartender for the evening, your best bet is to set up a self-serve beverage station. You can handle the prep work in advance to slice any citrus fruits, cucumbers, and any other garnish your guests might need.
Be sure to provide mixers as well.
You can mix up a batch of easy cocktails and arrange pitchers for guests to serve themselves easily. Just be sure to offer a pre-made mocktail for the designated drivers. You don’t want them to feel left out of the festivities.
Your guests won’t mind making their own drinks, it allows them to pour as light or heavy as they prefer their drink and it means they can top themselves up whenever they like.
Autumn is the perfect season for a dinner party, both indoors and out, where music will be great for cleaning after, too. There are plenty of great seasonal food options, and the weather is not too hot and not too cold. Get the food right, and your guests will talk about your party until Christmas.