Fall Dinner Party Alfresco

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.

outdoor tablescape with black and white stripe table cover and yellow accents and sunflowers.

We’re ready for a dinner party al fresco style as the weather transitions to more comfortable temperatures. This menu and party plan is a terrific way to welcome the fall season, celebrate a birthday, or host a late summer garden party.

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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outdoor table setting with black and white stripe tablecloth, individual cheese boards and sunflowers in white vase.

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.
small individual cheese board on top of place setting.

Place Settings

Give each guest their own cheese board appetizer with Gouda, Chèvre, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus grapes to whet their appetite.

outdoor table setting for fall with sunflowers centerpiece.

To create a casual feel, use vintage or vintage-style amber tumblers instead of stemware to hold water or wine.

individual cheese board with name tag tied onto handle.

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 in white vase.

Centerpiece

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.

homemade jam in glass jars with ribbon and tag.

Party Favors

Send guests home with homemade freezer jam made from summer’s bounty of berries. Use strawberries or raspberries.

food buffet set up outdoors.

Decor

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.

wire basket filled with throw blankets, outside.

Expert Tips

  • 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.
collage of food photos with salads, chicken and dessert.

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.

Salads

Side Dishes

Meat

Dessert

Wine

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!

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grilled chicken on bed of greens with lemon slices.

Fall Outdoor Dinner Lemon Herb Chicken

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Serve over a bed of arugula with slices of lemon for garnish.

Did you make this recipe?

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18 Comments

  1. simply gorgeous & my fave part is the individual cheese boards – genius! Your work is amazing my friend! =)

  2. Wow, Chris I love this. I love fall and entertaining an outdoor party is a perfect way to celebrate with friends. Love the black and white colors with the perfect touches of yellows and woods to compliment. Super cute idea the cutting boards. Thanks for the great inspiration can’t wait for the recipes.

  3. Chris, I love that you didn’t cover the whole table up (or the chairs!) – the wood gives so much warmth to this setting. Love the rattan chargers and all the pops of yellow too. You’re amazing. As always.

  4. We love entertaining outdoors and sadly it’s still way too hot in FL to dine al fresco. I’m adding these recipes and food ideas to Pinterest though, because as soon as it cools off I’m hosting a little dinner party on the patio!

  5. I LOVE this! Mixing black and white stripes with more traditional fall colors is beautiful and bold! I also love fall and the idea of a chilly yet cozy dinner party in the backyard. So so pretty! We’ve talked about getting a hot tub after we add our 3-season porch and deck (hopefully next summer). In Minnesota, hot tubs are amazing on freezing cold winter nights.

    1. Exactly, Jessica! We went snow skiing one year and sat outside in the hot tub as snow was falling all around us. So fun!