Once the busyness of summer is gone and the slow dance of autumn begins, gather your friends and family for a relaxing harvest-theme party outdoors. We had an ideal location on this charming tin-roofed front porch.
With plenty of seating options and rustic tables, plus lots of space around the wood-planked farmhouse for kids and dogs to play, it’s an easy place to conjure a warm and welcoming stage for laid-back conversation and stress-free entertaining.
To set up for a party, let the luscious colors of fall guide your decor. You don’t have to spend a lot to get a harvest atmosphere. Throw a party with what you have. Raid your belongings first, then look around at the natural bounty of your surroundings.
Warm up a table with a vintage blanket. On either side are kick-back-comfy Adirondack chairs. Behind one is a salvaged porch post topped with a decorative pumpkin in a bed of straw.
Pull out the old china, yellow-ware bowls, and mismatched silverplate to set up food stations. Bring in old galvanized buckets to keep drinks cold.
A burlap runner is the first layer of this table setting. Makeshift straw placemats are topped with vintage china and linens. The lantern is festively ribboned with vines while a container with gourds adds color.
Choose vintage blankets in autumnal hues to ward off seasonal chill. Set fresh candles in sturdy lanterns. A chunky pumpkin-weight keeps folded blankets orderly until they’re needed.
A pegboard for outerwear by the front door makes a perfect spot for guests to pop their scarves and hats.
Branches and grasses gathered nearby make dry botanical arrangements in two antique flat-sided hanging baskets on the front French doors.
Add plenty of natural elements as well such as pumpkins and gourds, heaps of loose straw, and containers full of planted mums. Cut and gather cornstalks, bittersweet, vines, and nuts. Use plants in lone baskets or arrange them in vignettes on or near the porch. A wooden stool topped with a galvanized metal bucket adds height to this vignette at the porch’s edge, all lit at night by a standing lantern.
Bring in a few vintage items as conversation pieces. Keep it casual yet festive. The basket of this old bike overflows with straw topped by a paunchy pumpkin. The rust patina adds character and texture. The tall cornstalks behind the bike tie the vignette to the porch decor above. When using dried branches, stalks and straw, add fresh elements, like pumpkins and gourds, as well as potted mums to enliven the scene with color and shape. Dried materials can be gathered early on before your fete but add fresh items just before the soiree starts.
Host an Awesome Autumn Porch Party
A fall gathering should be a relaxed—and relaxing—event. Make it potluck, shop in your cupboards, and use an outdoor space for quick cleanup. Here are some planning tips.
Guest List: Make a loose guest list. Make calls; don’t mail invites. Plan for extras to show up.
Designate Party Central: Pick a porch or other covered area in case of drizzle.
Furnish It: If you don’t have porch furniture, carry pieces outside, borrow folding lawn chairs, or pick up chairs and small tables at a tag sale or flea market.
Layer Fabrics: Fall can be cool and fabric dresses things up a bit. Use vintage blankets, old linens, and rustic burlaps. Inexpensive flour sack towels work well, too.
Use Old China and Glazed Bowls: Don’t bring out your best, but don’t skimp on dishware. Bowls are useful for food and decor. Fill one with mini-pumpkins. Spread a quilt on the lawn for kids.
Shop the Garden: Use pumpkins, cut vines, mums, branches and more to arrange nature’s bounty.
The lovely ladies of Leola’s Vintage Vintage Home & Garden in Ozark, MO, helped us bring you these harvest entertaining ideas. They are Kelli Martin, standing, and seated from left, her aunts Jan Wells and July Cloud, and Kelli’s mom Linda Martin.
All photography by Chris Hennessey.
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