You survived the fall kids’ party. Now it’s your turn to celebrate the season of pumpkin spice, football and crisp, cool temperatures. Adult fall parties give you a chance to celebrate in a more sophisticated way, surrounded by your friends, delicious food and adult-friendly activities. Check out our fall party guide to throw the event of the season.
Time It Right
Adult parties typically take place in the evening. Whether you keep it to a few hours or party into the wee hours of the morning, a weekend night is usually easiest to coordinate. Your guests won’t need to worry about feeling rough at work the next day, and they’ll likely stick around a little longer.
Avoid scheduling a party around the same time as any major fall celebrations in the area, and skip trick-or-treating night if your invitees have kids of their own. It’s also a good idea to stay away from the fall holidays, including Halloween and Thanksgiving. Most people have busy schedules in the week or two before the holidays. By avoiding those scheduling conflicts, you get more people to say yes to your invitation.
Schedule the party as far in advance as possible. Even if you avoid major events, you’re still competing with all the other social invitations your friends receive. Set the date, and send out the invites as soon as you’ve confirmed everything. If you’re throwing an outdoor fall party, have a backup date in mind, and let people know about it in the invitation. It’s a good idea to schedule outdoor parties as early in the fall as possible to avoid cold temperatures that sometimes happen in mid- to late October.
Choose a Theme
Starting with a theme for your adult fall party helps you plan all the other elements. The theme also helps create a cohesive look and really emphasizes the fall aspect of the get-together. Many themes that work well for kids’ fall parties also fit with an adult party, with a few adjustments to make them a little more grown-up.
Here are some theme ideas to get you started.
- General fall theme: Go simple with pumpkins, corn, gourds and other general fall elements.
- Fall colors: Choose one or more fall colors as the guiding factor if you don’t want your party to be overly themed.
- Harvest party: Celebrate the bounty of the fall season with pumpkins, cornucopias, hay and other harvest items.
- Halloween: If you’re throwing your party in October, make the theme easy by basing the party around Halloween.
- Friendsgiving: This option is a twist on traditional Thanksgiving with a gathering of friends. It’s perfect if your fall party happens in November.
- Costume party: Encourage your guests to come up with their most creative costumes for this party theme.
- Tailgating or football: Center your party on football with a tailgating theme. Encourage everyone to wear shirts or jerseys from their favorite teams.
- Haunted house: Spook your guests with a haunted house theme. You can go over-the-top scary with your decorations and activities.
- Oktoberfest: Infuse German inspiration into your party with an Oktoberfest theme.
- Camping: Campfires, s’mores and the woods are often associated with fall. Turn it into your theme for a fun party idea.
- Goodbye to summer: Give summer one final nod with this theme. Encourage guests to dress in their best summer or luau gear to celebrate the season that is coming to an end.
Once you choose your theme, you can start planning the other parts of the celebration. You don’t have to incorporate the theme in an obvious way in every aspect of the party. Color is an easy way to express a theme without being overt about it. For example, red, orange, yellow and brown work well for a general fall theme. If you’re going with a tailgating theme, you might use the colors of your favorite team.
Choose a Space
Hosting your party at home is an easy, inexpensive option. You know the layout well, you don’t have to pay rental fees and you’re comfortable there. However, if space is limited, your guest list will also need to be limited to comfortably accommodate all those people. If you have a sizable backyard, consider moving the festivities there. You get to enjoy the crisp fall weather with more space for guests. If you’re planning an outdoor party, it’s always a good idea to have a backup location or a rain date in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.
If you want to take the party to a different location, look for rental spaces that will accommodate the number of people on your guest list. Restaurants and community centers often have space to rent for parties. Another option is to head into the country to a barn that offers facility rentals. You can also find wineries that allow event rentals. Keep in mind you may be required to purchase food and drink from the venue, depending on where you host. If you want to supply your own food, choose a venue that allows you to bring in outside food and beverages.
Once you decide on your location, think about the different entertaining areas you want to create. By setting up distinct areas for different types of socializing, you help spread out the crowd and keep people engaged. Your guests feel comfortable because they can choose an activity that matches their preferences.
Unless you’re hosting at a venue with a bartender, set up a self-service drink area where guests can keep their glasses filled all night. You’ll also need a food serving area and a spot for people to sit and eat. Arrange a separate seating area where guests can gather to chat. You might also have a bonfire area for an outdoor party and a space for games and activities, depending on your party plans.
Decorate Your Space
The decorations set the tone for your party. You don’t have to go overboard with decorations. A few strategically placed fall-themed decorations give your space the elegant look you want without being too over-the-top. Use your theme as a guide for choosing the decorations, or go with general fall decorations.
Start with a beautiful pumpkin arrangement outside the door. Stack pumpkins and gourds artistically. Stenciling “Welcome” or “Hello” on a large pumpkin adds a special warm touch to the display. Tuck in some fall flowers or a burst of color in your welcome display.
Another way to use pumpkins is on your centerpieces for your party tables. Cut off the top of the pumpkin just enough to hold a vase. Hollow out the pumpkin. Slip the vase inside, and place a fall floral arrangement in it. Make sure the arrangement is full enough to cover the opening of the pumpkin, so it looks like the flowers are bursting out of the pumpkin.
If you’re hosting the party outdoor, use large, rectangular hay bales as seating. It’s an easy, inexpensive way to seat more people, and it adds to the fall charm. Toss blankets over the bales to make the seats a little comfier.
Yet another way to decorate an outdoor party is with lots of carved pumpkins. Instead of the traditional jack-o-lantern face, carve various designs in the pumpkin for an upscale look. You might use a large drill bit to create a polka-dot effect all over the pumpkin. Or carve one large letter on each pumpkin to spell out a message when you place the pumpkins in a row. Add candles to the pumpkins to create a warm glow and a fun ambiance. You can use this same idea indoors. Use battery-operated candles instead of real flames for safety.
Need more holiday decorating inspiration? Try one of these ideas:
- A fall bunting made of burlap or flannel
- Silk fall leaves scattered on tables
- Mason jars with candles inside
- Potted mums inside and outside
- Strings of fall-colored lights
- Plaid or flannel pillows
- Cozy fleece or flannel blankets draped over seating
- Large jars of multicolored corn, fall candies, pine cones and similar fall items
Plan a Delicious Fall Meal
Guests show up at your parties for the fun, but a great party menu doesn’t hurt, either. Incorporate fun fall themes into the food to keep guests satisfied. It’s a good idea to have snacks and drinks waiting when your guests arrive. The early party guests have something to keep them satisfied while everyone else arrives.
Try some of these fall party food options.
- Chili bar: Keep your guests warm with a huge pot of chili. Set out various toppings so everyone can customize the dish. Options include cheese, sour cream, corn chips, jalapeños, guacamole, cilantro, bacon and hot sauce. You can also supply things like cornbread, baked potatoes, hot dogs and tater tots to accompany the chili.
- Pizza: No matter what time of year, pizza is always a hit at a party. When you order your favorite fall-inspired pizza combinations from Giordano’s, you free up more time to perfect your party decorations and plan activities that will leave your guests talking about your fall party all year long.
- Roasted chicken: Fall is the perfect time to season pieces of chicken and roast them in the oven. Add in a mix of squash, sweet potatoes and other favorite roasted veggies to round out the meal.
- Fall salad: A green salad is always a welcome option to balance out the richer foods on your menu. Incorporate fall flavor, such as apples, pear and walnut, into your salad for an upscale, autumn-inspired starter course.
- Cheese board: Set out a selection of cheeses, salami, figs, nuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, pears and apple slices. The cheese board gives guests something to munch on throughout the evening.
- German-inspired fare: If you’re hosting a party with an Oktoberfest theme, serve up plenty of German foods, such as sausages, potato salad and sauerkraut.
- S’mores bar: If you’re hosting a bonfire as part of your festivities, set up a s’mores bar. In addition to graham crackers, offer shortbread cookies, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies and similar foods. Buy gourmet marshmallows in different flavors to spice things up. Add different types of chocolate bars in addition to plain milk chocolate for additional customization. Guests can toast the marshmallows to their preference and assemble a custom dessert with the other components.
- Pumpkin or apple desserts: No fall party is complete without pumpkin or apple flavors. Pies, bars and cakes all work well with these two flavors. Make mini pies or tarts for individual servings. You can also make pumpkin or apple cupcakes for easy-to-serve desserts guests can grab themselves.
- Gourmet caramel apples: Turn this classic fall treat into an upscale dessert with layered coatings. Layers of caramel and different types of chocolate add a decadent flavor to the apples. Add chopped nuts, chocolate swirls, candy bits, mini chocolate chips and other toppings before the coating hardens. For an easier-to-eat option, slice the apples and set out bowls of caramel, melted chocolate and toppings to create a caramel apple bar.
Whether you make the food yourself or order from Giordano’s, the presentation can be just as important as the menu itself. Have a little fun with the presentation. Here are some fun options to dress up your serving table:
- Hollowed pumpkin: Set a festive tone at the table with a hollowed-out pumpkin. Cut the top third of the pumpkin off to create a bowl-like shape. Clean out all of the seeds and insides of the pumpkin. Line the inside with foil or plastic, and place a decorative cloth napkin on top. Fill the pumpkin with chips, rolls or other snacks.
- Plastic pumpkin: If you don’t want to mess with a real pumpkin, pick up several plastic pumpkin pails to use as bowls for snacks.
- Fall signs: Let guests know what they’re eating with fun fall-themed signs by each food item. Use pumpkin cutouts to make the food labels, or paint the names of the dishes on mini pumpkins that you place next to the serving trays.
- Burlap: Grab a roll of burlap to dress up your party tables. Burlap works well as a table runner, tied around bowls or tied into bows to accent chairs and table corners.
- Flannel: Another distinctly fall fabric that can dress up your serving tables is flannel. Use it under serving trays, as a runner or tied around various containers.
- Mini hay bales: Stop by the craft store to pick up small decorative hay bales used for crafts. Place a few bowls or platters on the hay bales to create varying heights on the food table.
Serve Signature Drinks
Beverages can be just as fun and satisfying as the main course. The standard beer and wine work well for parties at any time of year, but autumn offers some unique options for your party drink menu. If you want to serve alcoholic beverages, make sure you also have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages, so all your guests find something they like.
Here are some options:
- Pumpkin or apple martinis: Add the flavors of fall to a classic adult beverage. Garnish the drinks with apple slices.
- Sangria: Instead of serving wine straight from the bottle, whip up a batch of sangria the day before. Red sangria is a favorite in the fall. Add cinnamon sticks and apple slices to emphasize the autumn theme.
- Pear mojitos: Combine crisp fall pears with mint in an updated version of the mojito.
- Apple cider: This option gives guests a classic non-alcoholic drink option. Keep a few bottles of cinnamon-flavored alcohol on hand in case anyone wants to spike their cider.
- Hot cocoa bar: Let guests relive their childhood with a hot cocoa bar. Give the bar an upscale twist with gourmet marshmallows, chunks of high-end chocolate and other fancy mix-ins. This is another versatile drink option that is easy for guests to spike if they want something extra in the hot chocolate.
Sometimes just sitting and socializing is enough entertainment, but planned activities take your party to the next level. The specific theme and the personalities of your guests come into play.
Try some of these fall party activities to spice things up.
- Fall food cook-off: Challenge party guests to a cook-off using certain fall ingredients. Again, pumpkins and apples work well here. Individuals or teams have to come up with and cook a dish using the ingredients. The best dish wins. If you have a small kitchen, invite guests to make dishes containing the fall ingredient at home. Have everyone taste the dishes at the party and vote for the winners.
- Costume contest: Who says costumes are just for kids? Getting dressed up as an adult can be fun, and it puts your creativity to the test. Hand out prizes for various costume categories.
- Music: Everyone loves music, whether it’s just for background ambiance or serves as the main entertainment. Streaming music pumped through speakers offers an inexpensive party music option. Throw in a few classics with a Halloween theme, such as “Monster Mash,” just for fun. If you’re throwing a larger party, consider hiring a DJ or a local band to supply the music.
- Minute-to-win-it games: Just like costumes, party games can be equally fun for adults. As their name suggests, minute-to-win-it games are quick, easy and fast-paced. Plus, they’re entertaining to watch. Some options include balancing candy corn on a popsicle stick held in your teeth, wrapping partners in toilet paper to make mummies, stacking apples, separating a handful of fall candies based on color and stacking fall-colored plastic cups into pyramids.
- Yard games: If you’re hosting an outdoor party, set out several yard games to keep guests entertained. Cornhole is a popular option and fits particularly well into a tailgating-themed party. Other options include horseshoes, ladder ball and badminton.
- Pumpkin decorating: Pick up a small pumpkin for each guest, and let them get creative with pumpkin decorating. If you don’t want to deal with the mess of carving pumpkins, offer paint and other decorations, so guests can decorate the pumpkins without knives and gooey pumpkin innards. This activity gives guests a fun party favor to take home.
- Haunted house: If you’re going with a Halloween theme for your adult party, set up a mini haunted house. Decorate your entire home with spooky decorations. Designate one area, such as the garage or backyard, as the actual haunted house. Invite a few friends to dress up in scary costumes and help scare the partygoers. If you don’t want to set up your own haunted house, carpool to a professional haunted house in your area at the beginning or end of the party.
- Photo booth: Capture fun moments from the party with a photo booth. Set up a fun background on a wall with fall leaves or fall colors. Grab lots of props, like mini pumpkins, orange and black feather boas, masks and picture frames painted black and orange.
Let Giordano’s Handle the Food
Throwing the best fall party in the neighborhood requires a lot of planning and work. Simplify the food portion of the party by ordering from Giordano’s. Pair our delicious pizza with your choice of side dishes for a low-stress party menu. If you prefer to take a hands-off approach to meal prep, opt for our catering service to handle the entire meal from start to finish. We offer so much more than pizza on our catering menu, so you can customize your fall party menu without breaking a sweat.