Now that the mosquitoes have disappeared and the weather has cooled, spending time outside is a much more pleasant experience. It’s the perfect time to celebrate the beauty of autumn by opening your home and inviting friends and family to a fall-theme backyard get-together.

Our top tips for throwing the best outdoor fall bash include ideas for food, decorating and activities. They will infuse your gathering with the fall spirit and spotlight not just your hospitality—but your home’s beautiful backyard and property, too.

Let’s Talk Seating

Positioning can be key. To encourage conversation among both friends and acquaintances, position outdoor chairs around a fire pit with smores and cocktail essentials. Encouraging guests to face one another helps facilitate easy conversation.

Of course, you never know which of your guests will ask to bring last-minute guests of their own. To ensure a spot for everyone, keep flexible seating options at hand. These may include outdoor ottomans and folding chairs.

Finally, one of the quickest and easiest ways to transform your outdoor seating spaces for fall use is to add throw blankets. Since the temperature can take a dip once the sun goes down, cozy blankets will help keep guests warm as they stick around into the evening.

We’re Here for the Food

Fall food is all about, well fall flavors. Put your own twist on classic cocktails to make fall gatherings more personal. Add a fall-inspired touch to a classic drink, like a margarita, with a splash of apple cider and a pinch of ground cinnamon.

From apples to sweet potatoes, autumn brings out the best in both sweet and savory flavors. Look for recipes showcasing these traditional fall foods. We love some of these classic and hearty fall appetizers

And for the kids? Give boring brownies and upgrade with a smores touch. Add graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows to a brownie recipe to create a mashup of two dessert favorites.

Just remember, whatever you serve, formal dining can be a bit stuffy. Fall entertaining calls for casual, family-style serving.

Ambiance is Always Important

Skip the orange and brown this fall (it’s been done before) and choose a color scheme that’s rustic and classic. Think shades of pine green and cranberry or muted sage and cream. While these are seasonally appropriate palettes, they are also less expected and provide that little wow for your guests.

Don’t forget the pumpkins. While it may seem cliché, using the bounty of the season in your decorations provides a natural and homey appearance. Decorate your hardscaped walkways with stacks of pumpkins in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. If you’re planning a party at dusk or in the evening, be sure to illuminate the path with LED votive candles (which are much safer than their traditional counterparts). 

Keep Them Entertained

After dinner, bring out the pumpkin and paints. Invite guests to use their artistic skills to paint pretty designs or spooky faces on pumpkins.

Keep games and dice handy just in case guests get competitive. You never know when someone will want to play a friendly game of Yahtzee!

Finally, as the host, you want everything to turn out great but you should have fun at the party as well. Therefore, enlist enough help to give you enough time to enjoy the food, festivities, friends, and family as well. After all, it’s a Fall affair that you’ll want to remember during the Winter.