Recipe for a harvest party

By Carol Alexander

Nothing initiates fall more than a harvest party. With a crispness in the air, pumpkins along the walk, and a washtub full of apples to bob for, your friends will know that you understand the meaning of the season.

If you long to have friends and family over for an autumn gathering, here are some suggestions to make it a memorable affair.

Invitations

  • Cut apples in half from top to bottom to use as a stamp.
  • Cut pumpkin shapes from orange cardstock.
  • Punch holes in the top of your card about an inch apart, thread raffia through them and tie.
  • Tear pieces of orange, red, and yellow tissue paper into small pieces. Glue on an outline of a tree to make a fall image.
  • Handwrite your invitation on burlap with a permanent marker. Roll up and tie with a plaid ribbon.

Menu

  • Roast hot dogs and corn-on-the-cob over a fire.
  • Make a big pot of chili and serve with chips, cheese, and sour cream.
  • Hollow out a huge pumpkin and use as a punch bowl to serve hot apple cider or as a tureen to serve pumpkin soup.
  • Make a Chex Mix and add candy corn and other fall-ish candies.
  • Create a vegetable platter and use a small, hollowed out pumpkin to serve the dip.
  • Hollow out apples and use as cups to serve apple cider. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
  • Hollow out pumpkins and use as bowls to serve the stew.
  • Make your own pumpkin-spice lattes.
  • Serve S’mores.

Decorations

  • Tie dried corn stalks to your porch pillars, fence or around trees.
  • Use straw bales for seating in the yard or around the fire.
  • Carve out the inside of a pumpkin. Using a drill, create a pattern of holes in the sides. Use different sized bits to create smaller or larger holes. Place a candle or battery-operated light inside. Replace the top and use to decorate your porch.
  • Hollow out miniature pumpkins and use as votive or tea light holders to line a walkway.
  • Use three pumpkins—small, medium and large—to create a pumpkin topiary. Decorate them individually and then stack them in a planter filled with dried greenery, berries or straw. Place the largest on the bottom, medium-sized one in the middle, and the smallest on the top.
  • Use blue or green Mason jars, brown root beer bottles, or hollowed out pumpkins as vases for flower arrangements.
  • Line your buffet table with gourds, ears of dried corn or miniature pumpkins.
  • Create a table runner using burlap.

Activities

  • Set out a big jar of pumpkin seeds. Have guests predict how many seeds are in the jar. Give a prize to the person guessing the closest without going over.
  • Enjoy a game of pumpkin bowling. Cut the stem off a medium-sized pumpkin. Carve out three holes to resemble a bowling ball. Cover rolls of paper towels or empty pop bottles in brown paper and use as pins.
  • Hide miniature pumpkins around your yard and have the kids hunt for them like an Easter egg hunt.
  • Bob for apples.
  • An alternative to bobbing for apples is to hang apples with a string tied to the stem from the clothesline, tree branches or porch roof. Hang them in varying heights from the ground. Players are to try and grab an apple in their teeth without using their hands.
  • Create a pumpkin ring toss. Set up a line of pumpkins of various sizes. Set a few on straw bales or stack two on top each other to have varying heights. Mark each one with a number of points they are worth. Using hula-hoops or needlework hoops, toss them over the pumpkins. The person with the highest score wins.
  • Sing or tell stories around the fire.
  • Play corn hole, horse shoes or croquet.
  • If you live in a rural area, take a hay ride.

Carol J. Alexander enjoys wearing sweaters, drinking hot apple cider and watching the leaves turn on top the mountains from her Shenandoah Valley patio.