As the nights draw in and temperatures dip, autumn may not be the most obvious season for a garden party. Look beyond the falling leaves and grey skies and see it as an opportunity to embrace a glorious time of year, get creative and do something a bit different.
Say goodbye to the long days of summer and welcome the crisp, fresh days of autumn with our easy seasonal outdoor party ideas.
1. Warm it up
One of the first things you’ll need to ensure when throwing a party in cooler weather is that you’ve got some decent outdoor heating. From fire pits and chimineas to environmentally friendly bio-fuel heaters and patio heaters, there are great solutions to suit your budget and the space that you have.
It’s worth investing in the best heating you can afford as it will mean you use your outdoor space for many months of the year. Whether you’re heating a gazebo or need inspiration for a fire pit, there are a mind-boggling number of options to choose from.
Like an open fire or wood-burning stove in the house, outdoor flames instantly make a space look cosy and inviting.
Twiggy hedges and lacklustre perennials may not be the most inspiring backdrop for a party but you can add a few simple accessories to make your space more welcoming for your guests.
- Try adding a few pots of autumn-loving flowers around seating areas and on tables. Pansies, asters, rudbeckia and heathers will instantly brighten a patio or gazebo. For an eclectic look, try filling old metal buckets or lined wicker baskets which you can easily move around.
- You could make a seasonal wreath and hang it on the door of a shed or outbuilding for instant glamour.
- Autumn is a great time of year for foraging and you can make beautiful outdoor flower arrangements using pampas grass, poppy seed heads, rose hips, faded hydrangea blooms, teasels and evergreens such as fir and holly. Place stems in a large vase and display them in a sheltered spot.
- Make the most of the season’s harvests and place different sized pumpkins around – perfect for a Halloween themed party.
- If you can source some hay bales, they make inexpensive and handy extra seating, they also add a cosy touch and work well in barns and outbuildings. Try adding blankets to up the cosiness factor.
- If you have a gazebo, outbuilding or wall that looks a bit bare, try hanging some wicker baskets, old mirrors, picture frames and other quirky items to add instant interest and a great backdrop for your party.
3. Garden glow up
Lighting is one of the easiest and most effective ways to add sparkle and magic to an outdoor party. Whether you opt for a subtle look or prefer a Blackpool illuminations vibe, one thing’s for sure, adding lights is guaranteed to liven up your outdoor space.
Try adding strings of festoon lights to pergolas and gazebos or stringing them across fence panels.
Fairy lights look fabulous wherever they are placed. You can weave them around bare twigs, wrap them around box and bay trees, wind them around obelisks and decorate outbuildings.
Place fairy lights inside glass jars and bottles and add candles to high-sided hurricane lamps to dot around tables and place along walls.
Solar-powered lanterns can be hung from buildings and placed on the ground for instant illumination.
Neon lights look incredible above an outdoor bar or on the wall of a gazebo, you can even go for customised slogans.
4. Create shelter
No gazebo or outbuilding? No problem? Get creative and make a temporary shelter for your guests. You could buy or hire a pop-up gazebo or try making your own pergola or veranda.
If you’ve got a reasonable sized shed, give it a good clear out, add a table and chairs or an old sofa and you’ve got a perfect party room. Add some lights and heating and it’ll create a welcoming place to sit, relax and shelter.
5. Make seasonal snacks
No party is complete without snacks and when the weather’s cooler, welcoming your guests with delicious warming treats sets the tone for a party to remember.
For an autumnal themed tipple, try serving mulled cider, you can skip the alcohol without skimping too much on the flavour. Try making delicious gingerbread hot chocolate, guaranteed to warm your guests and put a smile on their faces.
For easy to serve snacks, rustle up some spiced apple or pear chips, pumpkin bars, loaded pizza slices and banana bread. All delicious, easy to make and perfect on crisp autumn evenings. For a kid’s party, serve sweet cones in autumnal tones of orange, red, brown and gold.
If you’ve got an outdoor fire, get out the marshmallows and toast them over the flames or make delicious s’mores. Can you have too many? We think not!
6. Create an autumnal menu
If you’re serving a sit-down meal, take inspiration from the abundance of seasonal vegetables when creating your menu. Locally-sourced produce such as carrots, sweet potatoes shallots, parsnips and squash can form the base for delicious meals.
Try pumpkin and lentil soup, salmon with broccoli and sweet potato mash, wild mushroom risotto or a hearty chicken, butterbean and root vegetable casserole served with thick slices of crusty bread.
Finish off with a homemade quince tart or apple and blackberry crumble.
7. Add texture
A great way to add a cosy vibe to your party space is to add texture in the form of throws, blankets and cushions. Layer woollen throws with faux fur cushions and add to benches, egg chairs and seats.
Choose a bright outdoor rug to add interest and section off different areas. Rugs are a fantastic investment and extremely easy to clean and store when not in use. You can choose from natural fibres like jute and bamboo or synthetic versions. There’s a mind-blowing amount of choice and colour and something to suit every style and budget.
Curtains are a great way to make a gazebo feel extra cosy and are perfect for those inevitable rainy days. Choose a weatherproof material for this time of year.
8. Theme it
For extra fun, why not host a themed autumn party? Here are a few seasonal ideas for a party to remember:
- Shake it up with a scary, Halloween theme – carve pumpkins, make decorations and cook up toffee coated apples.
- Get crafty with a wreath-making party.
- Host a wine or cider tasting evening.
- Have an outdoor cinema night complete with popcorn and hot chocolate.
- Go for an Oktoberfest theme with beer, pretzels and chips.
If you’re wondering how you can make your garden look nice for an outdoor party but don’t want to spend too long doing it, a simple cut of the grass, sweep up of leaves and pruning of faded perennials will provide an instant uplift.