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Family and Friend Gatherings Made Easy

Hosting a Fall gathering can be a lot of work. You must plan a time that fits everyone's schedule, send out invites, prep the food, decorate, and select a date when the weather is appropriate. Then, when the big day arrives, you find yourself exhausted trying to socialize with all the attendees. Ensuring everyone is comfortable can be taxing especially if you're a novice at organizing get-togethers or simply running out of ideas on ways to entertain guests. Break the ice with these helpful tips at your next festivity.

Gathering Table

Outdoor Potluck with FriendsInteract and share your favorite dishes with friends by hosting a potluck

Ever feel lost at a party? The best way to make everyone feel included is to set up the perfect patio seating arrangement full of comfortable pillows and cushions. Instead of spending time trying to direct your guests where to go, devise a floor plan for grabbing food and areas to sit so that people can mingle and meet. This allows them to easily navigate their way around and socialize.

That said, a gathering table is an essential element for making the night just right. And sometimes the hardest part about a social gathering is the food. To make it easier, host a potluck and have guests contribute a dish to bring. Not only does this take the stress load off, but it's also a fun way to interact with others and get a head count for how many people are attending. Have fun decorating the table with fall-themed garlands and centerpieces. Vibrant leaves, colorful gourds, and outdoor tabletop lanterns and torches make for the perfect ambiance.

Host a Potluck

Autumn Season with Grapes Pips and Wine Bottles PoppyFall Harvest brings seasonal fruits perfect for food and beverage pairings

Whether you're whipping up your favorite recipe or buying store-bought finger foods, a little goes a long way. But remember, a potluck doesn't necessarily mean it has to be a food item. Beverages are also great party going items. Don't believe me? See so for yourself with these amazing refreshments.

Nothing speaks more Autumn than this Apple Cider Sangria by Recipe Girl. You'll probably notice apples, pears, and pomegranates trickling their way onto grocery store display racks. These heavy, bright fruits are the perfect pairings for all things spiced, especially wine. Why? In the northern hemisphere, the Fall Harvest is the most exciting time of the year which calls for those ever-so-sweet red varietals that winemakers wait all year long for. From the month of August to early November, grapes are matured to maintain their acidity and to peak their sugar concentration levels. The rich, full-bodied varietals combined with the fragrant scent of these ripe, seasonal fruits and aromatic spices not only tastes phenomenal but makes for a vibrant fruit/punchbowl centerpiece. So, break out that vintage from the buffet, roll out the serving carts, and get ready for a memorable night.

Along with the Fall Harvest comes seasonal beers. If wine and cocktails aren’t your thing, stop by your local brewery and pick up some quality craft brews infused with pumpkin, maple, apple, and pecan. Arrange a do-it-yourself beer tasting flight and discover unique food pairings you never knew existed. To make it more fun, try having guests guess the flavors or take it to the next level with some beer floats and see where your taste buds take flight.

But if you're not into alcohol, don't fret. There's a drink for all ages—hot chocolate. From being spiked with coffee liqueur, to spiced with fresh peppers, or topped off with fluffy whipped cream, there are so many ways to dress this classic drink. Whatever your preferred taste is, there's nothing wrong with keeping it plain and simple at a party. Plus, you can always stick to the basics like with BA’s Best Hot Chocolate recipe. Leave toppings and add-ins on the sides for guests to get creative with. Now that calls for the ultimate smorgasbord, don't you think?

After-Dinner Activities

Backyard Fire Pit Desserts

Firetainment Cooking Package SmoresMaking s'mores on Firetainment's fire table with cooking package

For a truly unique gathering, Firetainment's line of fire pits makes hosting get-togethers and entertaining others a cinch. My personal favorite is the Venetian Fire Table with Brown Granite Top and Cooking Package which makes it extremely easy to transition from a complete dining experience to a simple night relaxing by the fire. The included cooking package features a cooking mount, cast iron griddle, and Himalayan salt blocks. Cooking on a salt slab isn't as complicated as you might think. They make the ultimate heat distributors and are ideal for adding a non-processed salt flavor with added nutritional benefits. With such a variety of choices, like seared seafood and meats to buttered vegetables and squash, there are plenty of recipes to keep everyone satisfied—and that includes dessert.

When everyone has had their fill of dinner, gather everyone around the warm fire for some toasted marshmallows hot off the flames. These to-die-for desserts are the perfect combination of soft, sweet, and crunchy. The warm layers of gooey marshmallows, melted chocolate, and crisp graham crackers are the perfect campfire treat that even the little ones would love. Take it up a notch with sliced bananas or strawberries for a more fruit-forward bite. Or, if the atmosphere calls for a more fanciful night, switch out the Hershey's chocolate for a decadent chocolate truffle and pair it with a dessert wine. You'd be surprised how the rich blend of a port changes the tongue's palette.

Ice Breaker Party Games

Ice Breaker Party GamesBreaking the ice at an outdoor gathering

If you're thinking of a more interactive gathering, Jenga is the ultimate party game when you have large groups. Jenga is a game that requires physical skill and strategy. A tower of 54 wooden blocks are stacked on top of one another. Every row contains three blocks that alternate a different direction. For example, the initial row for the foundation would have three blocks facing horizontally one way. Row two would have three blocks facing vertically the other way. This pattern alternates until the tower is completely built.

To play, the player that builds the tower goes first. The rule is that only one hand can be used to pull the wooden blocks. It is acceptable to locate a loose block by poking the tower. A player’s turn is over once they can relocate the pulled block to the topmost level. Whoever causes the tower to break loses the game. This can be played with two or more people. You can even divide players into groups and have each person alternate after each round. But of course, there are plenty of other activities such as karaoke, Cornhole, and Charades to keep guests entertained.

Outdoor Photo Booth Station

Friends Having Fun in Photo boothPhoto booths with theme props are a big hit at any gathering

To make the night more memorable for everyone, create your own makeshift photo booth area. And no, this doesn’t require having to go out and buy a DSLR camera and tripod just to make it official. This also works with any polaroid camera, smart phone, or tablet. Set up your own backdrop with an old blanket or tablecloth you don’t mind getting dirty and include tons of lighting. Stop by your local dollar store and grab some props like face masks, quirky hats, and oversized sunglasses for snapping those silly pictures. Your friends and family are going to love this!

There's a lot of time and effort spent into hosting the perfect gathering. But it doesn't have to be difficult. Make everyone a team player by hosting a potluck and having each guest bring a platter to share at the party. Break the ice and try out some fun, interactive games that will have everyone wanting to participate. To create memories that will last a lifetime, set up your own photo booth station. For more information on how to create a cozier ambiance for your next event, reach out to one of our informative staff members via our website on the live chat, email info@starfiredirect.com, or personally speak with us at 866-578-8538.

Main Image: Firetainment Fire Table with Cooking Package

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephany Phimmasouk

An avid rock climber, Stephany is one of the Ecommerce team members responsible for the addition and maintenance of product listings on the website.



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