This article is by Brooke VeStrand, as told to Lyndsay Cordell.
If you follow me on TikTok, it’s pretty clear that fall is my absolute favorite time of the year. Since 2020, I’ve been documenting my love of autumn with fall-inspired product tastings and vlogs on Instagram and TikTok. Some of my absolute favorites of the season include Wendy’s Pumpkin Frosty, Trader Joe’s Teeny Tiny Pumpkin-Spiced Pretzels, and Maker’s Mark Pumpkin Empanadas (all rated five pumpkins on a scale of one to five pumpkins). There’s something so cozy and romantic about lighting an apple-scented candle, sipping on a mug of coffee flavored with pumpkin spice creamer, and wrapping yourself up in a warm knitted sweater. It’s been a dream to create this cozy little community of 135,000 followers that love a hygge-inspired lifestyle as much as me.
Each year to close out the fall season, I host an annual fall dinner party to share my favorite time of year with my closest friends and family. It’s been going on for a few years now, and I’ve finally nailed down some of my favorite fall party tips and tricks so you, too, can throw the best fall dinner party ever.
All Parties Start With Thoughtful Decor
Three words: cozy, rich, and warm. Look at the changing leaves and let them influence your color palette. Think warm reds, oranges, and yellows as your main palette, with rich purples and plaids to accent. These colors can be used in your dishware, napkins, or even glassware.
For me, this means laying deep purple hued tablecloths on multiple tables situated among the falling red and yellow leaves in my backyard. Each table has an orange table runner as well as small pumpkins and pinecones I find in my backyard. Two red pillar candles in mismatched holders, as well as six white pillar candles (all different sizes) round out the entire set up. To add a bit more color and spookiness, I place large orange pumpkins around the entire backyard.
When it comes to the larger decor pieces, I look to local rental companies for dishes, glassware, tables, and chairs. Renting out these items takes the hassle out of buying seasonal decor — plus, non-disposable plates and glassware are more environmentally friendly than using paper or plasticware. I had a hard time last year finding enough chairs around my house to seat all my guests, so renting them was a true life-saver.
Use lots of small lamps and thick pillar candles to create a warm ambience throughout the party area, and, if hosting the dinner outdoors, hang string lights and light a small campfire to add warmth and coziness. Chunky knit blankets are always a must to provide to guests, especially if it's a bit chilly outside. Each year I compile a playlist of my favorite Sad Girl Fall and Happy Girl Fall tunes and have these on a loop during all my fall gatherings.
All the Fall Food
On a scale of one to five pumpkins, serving delicious fall-inspired food is ranked five in importance when it comes to party planning. I plan a menu around soups, warm appetizers, and lots of finger foods.
The first year I hosted my fall bash, I spent hours in the kitchen making a homemade brie puff pastry tart, endlessly fussing over the perfect cheese board, and crafting up multiple autumn-inspired salads for guests to graze on. It was exhausting and put a damper on my mood during the entire party.
But I’ve learned! This year I used DoorDash to help me cater (and decorate) my fall dinner party. It was an easy way to provide food and pick out decorations for my party without having to run around town picking up different items. One of the best purchases I made was a few pretzel and cheese party trays from Philly Pretzel Factory — I wanted to serve pretzels but had zero desire to make them myself. For one more touch, I also ordered cute plastic cups designed with pumpkins.
In addition to ordering a few party platters, I made a few recipes from my favorite food blogger, Half-Baked Harvest. Every year I usually make a big batch of the Crockpot Beef Chili and set out toppings like sharp cheddar cheese, avocado, cilantro, and of course, Fritos. I also love to make a batch of her Brie and Cheddar Apple Beer Soup and serve it with butter crackers or cubes of sourdough bread. When it comes to dessert, you can’t go wrong with caramel apples, pumpkin brownies, or those quintessential ready-to-bake Halloween sugar cookies with the ghost and pumpkin shapes baked in.
While I do invite guests to BYOB, I always serve a few themed cocktail options as well. White wine sangria infused with fall spices and spiked hot apple cider are some of my personal favorites because they can be prepared in advance and served in a pitcher for guests to help themselves.
If you are looking for something a bit more competitive, host a fall cocktail battle royale.
Let your friends know ahead of time to bring cocktail ingredients and one at a time, have your guests hand out shooters of their signature fall cocktail. Score each drink between one to five pumpkins.
Now for the Practical Advice
Above all, guests are there to have a good time with you and all they really want is a nice party with small touches. Learn from my past experiences and take the pressure off: Outsource when possible, whether that means using a delivery service or renting plates and chairs from a rental company. While you may be the host, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t relax and enjoy the party too.
So put on your coziest sweater and leather boots, light some pumpkin spice candles, and get your own fall dinner party started!
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Brooke VeStrand