Host a fall dinner party alfresco for late summer or early fall entertaining and celebrating. Create a beautiful rustic tablescape and serve up the perfect garden-inspired menu with these expert tips and ideas.
Fall Outdoor Dinner Party
Late summer and early fall are the perfect time of year for an outside party or sunset supper. It’s warm by day, and a little cool at night!
Use these party ideas as a blueprint for your next gathering. Set a simple but beautiful tablescape and serve a farm-to-table style dinner.
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Fall Outdoor Tablescape
Decorate the table setting with casual but chic details.
- Use a yard of fabric tossed on the diagonal in lieu of a full tablecloth. Black and white stripes are a terrific base for any color.
- Accent with golden yellow to coordinate with seasonal flowers.
- Create layered place settings with rattan or wicker placemats, white dinner plates, and individual cheese boards.
- Place a communal bread bowl is in the center of the table so everyone has easy access.
Give each guest their own cheese board appetizer with Gouda, Chèvre, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus grapes to whet their appetite.
To create a casual feel, use vintage or vintage-style amber tumblers instead of stemware to hold water or wine.
Place Card Holder
Tie name tag place holders onto the handle of each mini cheese board. They can double as take home gifts for your guests!
Sunflowers are the flower of choice since they represent the end of summer and beginning of Fall. Put them inside a white pitcher at the end of the table, instead of the center, to facilitate family style dining.
Send guests home with homemade freezer jam made from summer’s bounty of berries. Use strawberries or raspberries.
Set up the food buffet style so guests can serve themselves.
Decorate with seasonal mums and lanterns, and welcome guests with a small chalkboard sign.
- Be prepared for cooler temperatures once the sun goes down. Have the firepit ready to light, and provide throws to wrap around shoulders.
- Use your overhead string lights, lanterns and candles as the sun sets.
- Offer a hot toddy or mulled wine for after dinner drinks.
- Use a portable blue tooth speaker to play a lounge-style or jazz playlist.
- Incorporate conversation starters, card games, or other fun entertainment.
What to Serve
Create an alfresco menu that consists of fresh seasonal ingredients. Think tomatoes, berries, herbs, apples, and greens.
These recipes are ideal because they can be served at room temperature, or in this case, outside temperature.
- Start with a caprese salad with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella drizzled with balsamic vinegar and a little salt and pepper.
- For the main entrée, cook lemon-herb chicken on the grill. It’s simple and delicious!
- Next, mix up my favorite spinach and orzo salad. It’s a great balance of vegetables and grains.
- For dessert, nothing’s better for an outdoor fall dinner party than this rustic apple galette with caramel drizzle!
More Menu Ideas
Even though this is a fabulous menu, you could also serve this light and rustic dinner menu. Here are additional recipes that would also work well.
- Greek couscous salad
- Pesto pasta salad with veggies
- Mediterranean chickpea salad – great entrée for vegetarians too!
For this menu I like to pair the cheese appetizer with a light Riesling that’s on the dryer side, such as Chateau St. Michelle.
And for the main course, Pinot Grigio is a good choice. One of my favorite, very affordable labels is Cavit. See more tips for serving wine here.
Are you ready to host a fall dinner party outside? Alfresco entertaining is so fun and casual, especially when you follow these tips. Let me know how it goes!
- 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (trimmed of fat)
- ¾ cup olive oil
- Lemon juice from 1 ½ lemons
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ¾ tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
- salt & pepper to taste
- Combine all marinade ingredients together in a large zip lock bag. Add chicken breasts and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or over night.
- Preheat the grill on medium heat (350º F) for 10-15 minutes. Add chicken breasts and cook for about 5 minutes per side, depending on thickness.
- Remove chicken from the grill and cover with aluminum foil to allow chicken to continue to cook, and for juices to settle. Internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F.
- Serve over a bed of arugula with slices of lemon for garnish.