It’s a cinch to pull together a quick autumn gathering when you have these simple tips in your back pocket.
With the right lighting, your guests will walk in and immediately feel at ease, which means that you can relax about some other party elements (like fancy food) and no one is likely to even notice. And while it took the homeowners a day to put up the 300 feet of string lights shown here, it’s a set-it-and-forget-it task that’s bound to serve them well for parties throughout the fall and winter. If you don’t want to go quite so big, even a few strands of lights over the party space can make a big impression.
The next time you spy cozy throw blankets on sale, consider picking up a few extras. Beyond sofas and armchairs, throws can add a welcoming touch to the front porch, back deck or dining chairs.
When you’re not hosting, extras can be folded and draped over a decorative wooden ladder to add color and texture to a blank wall.
Shop for party food and decor in one swoop by scooping up farm stand apples, pomegranates or nuts in the shell to use as centerpieces. Placed in a pretty wooden bowl, any of these seasonal finds can easily stand in for (or complement) the usual flowers.
Think fresh fruit, nuts, cheeses and charcuterie — but also meatballs, roast chicken, veggies, dips, spreads and anything else you have on hand or spy at the market on your way home. When all these little things are arrayed on big platters or boards, they look beautiful and bountiful yet require little of you aside from choosing and arranging. Of course, if you want to cook, do it! But know that slaving in the kitchen all afternoon is not the only option.
When the first guests arrive, instead of directing them to the (empty) living room and then abandoning them to finish your prepping, invite them to perch at the kitchen counter and hand them a glass of wine or a mug of hot cider. It feels welcoming and cozy, and once enough people have arrived, you can let the group spill into the other space.