Host an Autum Harvest Party!

(all images above courtesy Pottery Barn)

You want to have a party but you aren't sure you are really up to a Halloween party. While they are a lot of fun, they do require a good bit of time commitment in terms of planning and executing. But you have children and they really want to have a party. Or you want to have a Halloween party, but all the steps involved require more time or money than you have right now and you want to go all out with decorating, and cooking and all that other wonderfully spooky and festive stuff, but let's face it, we are not all Martha Stewart with a staff a plenty to haunt our houses!

A Fall Harvest Party would be the perfect solution... a celebration of all things autumn, and for those who wish, with Halloween elements!

You don't have to live in the Northeast to have this party. I know of friends in the south who do go pumpkin picking... granted they do it in their bathing suits! You don't even need that many pumpkins... Festive bowls of pears and apples placed strategically around lend an air of fall. As do Mums. I have found these scarlet orange mums with large petals that I adore. I keep them outside (as they need full sunshine) until I am ready to entertain. Then I place them on the front table in the Foyer.

If you are going to have a family friendly party you'll need to have some activities to keep the children entertained. Depending on the ages of the children attending, you may want to hire a local teenager or two to help with babysitting so that you and the other parents can enjoy yourselves.
Fun activities for all ages include potato sack races, three-legged-races, autumn related scavenger/treasure hunts, pumpkin decorating, pumpkin carving, pine cone hunt (much like an Easter egg hunt!) and mini pumpkin toss (in lieu of an egg toss).

I love a scarecrow making contest! You'll need a bale or two of hay and some old jeans or overalls, flannel shirts, hats, bandannas... If you have none of these items at home, you'll be able to pick up these items from your local Goodwill store for practically pennies! You'll divide all your guests into two or three teams (or as many as you'll need depending on the amount of guests and the ages of your guests) and make sure to have mixed ages on these teams. The goal is to stuff the hay into the clothes and create a scarecrow. The team that does it the fastest wins!

Or you could have a scarecrow relay race! Instead of hay team members dress in the overalls, shirts, bandannas, etc and race across the lawn, then disrobe and pass the clothes on to a team mate until all members have dressed, raced and undressed. This is loads of fun!

I still love the concept of apple bobbing. I know this worries some parents, and of course you'll really need to make sure that whoever is participating is free of any cold or other virus. Add a bit of Clorox to the water (as done in preschools and day cares) to remove potential germs. This will not harm the apples or the bobbers. Place the apples in a large, low bucket and let the fun begin!

Eating hanging donuts while suspending from a string is fun as well. You'll need some donuts (if you have access to some apple cider donuts, get them... they are so yummy and festive and lend themselves perfectly to an Autumn Harvest Party! You'll need some string to tie around the donuts, and something to hang them from so that they are dangling. The object of the game is to get your donut and eat it first!

If you want to invest a little money into this afternoon of fun you might want to hire a face painter. Kids love this. Or offer a pony ride.

You can host an apple pie or pumpkin pie contest. All contestants supply their own pies. Samples can be handed out for all who want to participate to judge. Home made or store bought.... can you tell the difference? There can be different categories within as well so that everyone can come out a winner!

Little children love to dress up. Have a Halloween Costume Contest for the younger set... or for anyone who wishes to get involved. Again, create different categories (cutest, prettiest, scariest, most creative, etc...) so that there is more than one winner. Perhaps everyone can be a winner!

Count the Candy Corns! Fill a large jar with candy corns. Count them as you put them in! Then have a candy corn guessing contest. The person with the correct number, or closest to the correct number, wins!
If you live in New England, Northwest or Midwest, you might need to have some warm beverages on hand. (Of course it's 70 and hot out as I write this!) For the cooler days have plenty of mulled cider, mulled wine and hot cocoa for the kids. Chili and cornbread and BBQ pulled pork sliders are fun foods to eat when it is cool out as well. Perhaps invite guests to bring their favorite chili and have a chili contest as well!

If you live in a warm climate then think along the lines of a BBQ with hamburgers, hot dogs or long submarine sandwiches and all sorts of cold salads. Food should be casual and fun.

What are some things you would do at your Fall Harvest Party?