Fall Harvest Party

The air is crisp, the leaves are crunchy, and the sweaters are cozier than ever. Like we'd need any more reason to celebrate the season! Gather friends for a fireside party complete with soup, sips, and (of course) sweet apple treats.

Party Prep: Getting Started

Keep the summer patio furniture out just a little longer -- you'll need it to help create this festive fall party site. A backyard fireplace serves as the focal point, while fun games and fall-theme foods are placed nearby. No fireplace? Not to worry! Spark up a bonfire surrounded by chairs.

Party Prep: Cheery Invites

First things first: invites. Get guests fired up for your party with matchbook-inspired invitations. Two folds and a staple bring the invite holders together in a flash. Don't forget to send each off with a metallic fire-shape stamp, available at your local crafts store.

Party Prep: Playlist

A party without tunes? Yeah right! Break out your portable music player for some sweet-sounding fun. A mix of classic and current artists such as Tom Petty and Ed Sheeran will appeal to a range of guests. PS: Creating a playlist ahead of time will save you prep on party day.

Party Decoration: Pumpkin Lantern

Triangle eyes and a toothy grin are so last season. Carve pumpkins with Gothic-looking windows to get your party glowing. The simple lanterns are a stylish way to light up each party station. Keep an extra stash of candles on hand to ensure they stay bright well into the night.

These five pumpkin-carving tools are must-haves to make a pretty Halloween jack-o'-lantern. The tools are cheap and you may already have them -- see how to use the tools to carve beautiful pumpkin stencils.

5 Must-Have Carving Tools!

These five pumpkin-carving tools are essential to making standout pumpkins -- watch how to use them here!

Party Decoration: Flowers

Whether they're single stems or showcased as a bouquet, fresh-cut dahlias make any party prettier. Play up fall's fiery palette by pairing the ooh-la-la flowers with a cool blast of blue. We used vintage seltzer bottles, but any vessels -- like Mason jars or on-hand vases -- will do.

Use a bottle collection and natural elements to create a cheap, transportable fall centerpiece that's a stunning as the autumn season.

Make Perfect Centerpieces for Pennies!

These stunning centerpieces start with collected bottles and pretty, natural elements. Eddie Ross shows you how to get the look!

Party Decoration: Bucket of Pumpkins

No need to break the bank on party decor. An assortment of mini pumpkins is festive, inexpensive, and the perfect excuse to spend a fun day at the patch! Add a little sparkle to the bunch by spraying a few with glitzy gold paint.

Party Drink: Apple Cider

There's one thing every fall party needs: apple cider. Spice up your go-to recipe with fruit slices, cardamom pods, and cloves -- the three make an irresistable combination! 

Party Drink: Seasonal Brews

Crack open a cold one -- fireside! An assortment of seasonal brews nestled on ice lets guests pick and choose which to sip, including hoppy lagers and hard ciders. Check out the local selection next time you hit the store.

Party Food: Smoky Cheese Balls

Shh! Sometimes it's OK to play with your food. These adorable apple-shape cheese balls one-up any other cheese tray and are so simple to make. Just roll your choice of cheese into a ball -- the lumpier the better. After coating the cheese in smoky paprika, press your thumb into the top to create a spot for the stem.

Party Food: Doughnuts

Sugar-coated doughnuts are the new s'mores. Buy a box from the bakery or make a batch from scratch -- either way, these ready-to-roast doughnut skewers will be gone in a snap. Bowls of warm, gooey chocolate let guests dip and dunk as they please.

Party Food: Cheddar-Beer Soup

Hollowed-out loaves of bread not only make soup-er tasty bowls -- they make dish duty easier, too! Keep a pot of cheddar-beer soup bubbling by warming it over the grill or in an insulated slow cooker.

Party Food: Cutout Cookies

Skip storebought -- festive cutout cookies are best when made from scratch. (Plus, half the fun is in the decorating!) Pipe on frosting in autumn hues using pastry bags with small tips. Look for cookie cutters in leafy, apple, and pumpkin shapes, then use a toothpick to create their intricate designs.

Party Activity: Pumpkin Hunt

Time to put that bucket of painted pumpkins to use -- a pumpkin hunt, of course! The easy-to-assemble game is a perfect way to keep the kiddos entertained. Tuck the vibrant minis away in trees, under tables, and all throughout the party site.

Party Activity: Pumpkin Tic-Tac-Toe

Paper and pens? We've got a better idea! Ropes and pumpkins bring an entirely different dimension to tic-tac-toe. Just be sure to pick up pumpkins in both orange and white to separate teams.

Party Favor: Caramel Apples

Plain Jane caramel apples are great and all, but nothing beats a totally decked-out dessert. Dunk your fresh-picked apples in layers of white, dark, and milk chocolate. A final dip in festive sprinkles or chopped nuts completes the sweet take-home treats.

Detailed directions:

Insert wooden sticks into apples and chill well.

For each layer, melt ingredients in a double boiler (or a heat proof bowl over a saucepan with a small amount of simmering water).

  • Caramel layer: 1 bag of caramel bits plus 2 tablespoons milk or water
  • Butterscotch layer: 1 bag of butterscotch flavored pieces plus 2 to 4 teaspoons shortening
  • Chocolate layer: 12 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate pieces plus 2 teaspoons shortening
  • White chocolate layer: 6 oz chopped white chocolate plus 6 oz vanilla candy coating plus 2 teaspoons shortening.

Dip chilled apple into desired layer. Immediately place on a square of parchment paper and chill until firm before dipping into another layer.

If desired, after dipping into final layer, press a crunchy topping into sides before chilling. (Crunchy topping ideas: granola, chopped pretzels, sliced almonds, chopped candied nuts, chopped toffee, pepitas (pumpkin seed kernels).)

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