5 Food Themed Parties for Fall

by Chris NeaseSeptember 18, 2013

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that a food centered party is always a hit. It gives focus and direction to the host/hostess, and the guests know from the beginning what to expect. Here are 5 of my favorite food themes that are just right for these cooler autumn nights.

Wine and cheese party

Obviously a wine and cheese party is self explanatory, but these tips should help you in planning your pairings and cheese selections. Because this food party is so limited, you may want to schedule it as a pre-dinner cocktail hour, or plan to add more variety after the initial tastings.

Food: Select 5-7 cheeses to serve, and incorporate variety in the way of texture and origin. Serve soft, semi-soft, and hard cheeses, and don’t just stick with traditional cows milk, also include sheeps milk and goats milk. Further, select cheese from around the world, like Spanish manchego, French brie, and English stilton or Italian gorgonzola.

Let the cheese stand covered at room temperature for about an hour before tasting so you get the full flavor. Use a different serving knife for each cheese so you don’t mix the flavors, and incorporate accompaniments like nuts, dried fruit, fruit spreads, olives, and cornichons. French baguettes or water crackers are the perfect vehicle for the cheese since their flavor is mild and doesn’t interfere with the cheese.

Drink: Wine is the classic pairing with cheese, but beer can also be an interesting choice.

Decor: Keep the decor simple and rustic. Use kraft paper or burlap to cover the table. Serve cheese on wooden or marble cutting boards, and use tented place cards or picks to label each cheese.

Chili party

We always look forward to cooler weather just so we can start making chili again. Hosting a chili cook off is a fun idea to get friends involved, or you can simply make 3 different varieties for your guests to sample.

Food: Classic chili, white chili, and a vegetarian chili is a good place to start. Keep it hot by using slow cookers or a big pot on the stove set to low. Provide lots of accompaniments like tortilla or corn chips, shredded cheese, sour cream, jalapeno peppers, diced onions, and saltine crackers.

Drink: Ice cold beer and root beer are great to serve with chili.

Decor: Place the chili pots in one area and the fixings in another so that foot traffic doesn’t get stalled. For easy tasting and clean up use paper cups instead of bowls to hold the chili.

Football party

Every weekend at this time of year, everyone is posting on Facebook about their tailgating parties or rooting for their favorite team at home. Hosting a football party is natural during the fall and it doesn’t take much to turn it into a festive occasion.

Food: Serve stadium and/or tailgate style food. Fried chicken, nachos, hot dogs, soft pretzels are all party worthy foods. Hearty dips and chips are also welcome throughout the game.

Drink: Beer and soda are always welcome, but nothing reminds me of tailgating quite like a bourbon and coke or ginger ale. A big batch of punch is also acceptable.

Decor: Use turf grass to line the food tables, and place megaphones and pom poms around the room.

Harvest party

Fall is the perfect time of year to host a harvest party. Pick one or two seasonal items to highlight through food and decor.

Food: Two of my favorite foods to highlight for fall are apples and pumpkins. Either offers an endless array of possibilities in both sweet and savory recipes as well as drinks. Serve BBQ pork sandwiches with apple slaw while sipping apple cider, and finish with apple pie! Pumpkins are equally versatile and both make beautiful centerpieces or special touches at place settings.

Drink: Make your own punch or serve sparkling apple cider or harvest beer varieties.

Decor: Make a bountiful centerpiece incorporating large and small pumpkins along with gourds and Indian corn. Fill apothecary jars with apples, or tie a name card onto the stem of an apple and place it at each place setting.

Pizza party

A pizza party is interactive and can turn a low key night into a lively event. It’s great for gathering together people who don’t’ know each other because it takes the social pressure off, and keeps the mingling easy.

Food: Provide enough dough or prepared crust so that everyone can get involved in making their own pizza or group sized pizzas. A variety is nice, that includes thin crust as well as thicker crust. You can also use a variety of flatbreads or even French bread as a base. Set out lots of toppings to choose from. Gourmet meats, cheeses, and veggies, as well as different sauces like tomato, pesto, and bbq sauce.

Drink: Italian wine is a great thirst quencher for pizza night.

Decor: Think classic kitsch with red and white checkered fabric, and empty wine bottles-turned candle stick holders. Chalkboard details are a must, and very trendy now. Provide each guest with a personalized apron by adding iron-on transfer letters to a basic white apron.

Any of these food-focused parties is a great way to bring friends together. Which one would you love to host?

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Chris Nease

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