October 8, 2014

6 Host Tips for a Fall Harvest Party - Photo by Hemera/Thinkstock (HobbyFarms.com) #fall #harvest #party

The first official frost arrived this past week here in Wisconsin, and with that comes more than just a burst of crisp air and the end of the basil crop. Fall ushers in a social time in our rural community, as a flurry of local farmer friends throw harvest-themed gatherings. The idea of a party at the end of the growing season makes total sense from both a practical and emotional standpoint: The season is almost done, we’ve all been working hard, and it’s time to let loose before the snow flies.

Throwing a festive harvest party requires some strategic planning to keep your guests warm and happy. Here are our six favorite tips to make it a success.

1. Keep Warm
Fall weather can be unpredictable and turn quickly. Weather will be an important variable in your party’s success, especially if you host it outside. The warm afternoon sun makes you feel like a happy cat purring, but encourage guests wear extra layers for when the sun goes down. Cold guests are unhappy guests. First and foremost, communicate in your invitation that the party will be held outside and that guests should dress appropriately, and have extra blankets along with some hats and scarves on hand for those who underestimate the weather.

An assortment of hot beverages also helps warm things up. Our friend, Kriss Marion of Circle M Market Farm, threw her harvest party last weekend on a clear but chilly Sunday afternoon. She warmly welcomed us with a buffet of hot beverages set up on a trailer, including basics like coffee, hot water for tea, and hot cider in a slow cooker.

2. Keep it Simple
No matter when you host a party, there will always be other local events going on and your invited guests will feel torn on where to go. By hosting an open house, folks can stop by when it suits their schedule.

We’re heading to a fall open house this weekend, hosted by our friend Melissa Burch of Bountiful Hope Farm, a neat nonprofit educational farm she and her husband founded to raise food for local pantries. She keeps things simple by asking guests to bring along snacks, which we’re sure will result in a nice array of nibbles that folks can graze on all afternoon and into the evening. Because it’s an open house, rather than a potluck dinner at a set time, we’re more readily able to attend, as we’re not sure what our bed-and-breakfast schedule has in store for us Saturday afternoon.

3. Offer a Tour
Hopefully any gathering you host includes local people you’ve recently met and would love to connect with more. A casual fall party is an encourage and cultivate new relationships. With that in mind, be sure to offer a tour around your home or property, especially if you’re on a farm where guests will be interested in seeing your gardens and animals. This also gives you the opportunity to point out any off-limit areas or places where folks should walk with caution.

4. Use Signage
Keep things easy for both you and your guests by placing easy-to-read signs around your place, identifying key places like bathrooms, food and other activities. Marion collects various shaped chalkboards at thrift shops and garage sales and uses as cute farm signage, leading her guests to various fiber craft activities.

5. Be Flexible
The fall season requires flexibility, given the weather. Don’t stress out if things don’t go exactly to your hosting plan, and adapt as needed. During last weekend’s party at Circle M Market Farm, the evening grew cooler than expected, so everyone helped move tables, chairs and food into an empty barn shed. Folks undoubtedly ended up lingering longer with the cozy and warm impromptu indoor environment.

6. Set a Date
Most importantly, if the idea of a fall party sounds appealing, put it on the calendar soon. Don’t wait too long or the weather will quickly grow too cold for outdoor festivities and we’ll be all back on the indoor party scene until spring.

Get more farm-party help from HobbyFarms.com:

Savoring the good life,

John and Lisa's Signatures

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