Outdoor Entertaining In The Fall

Outdoor entertaining in the fall is one of the best times to flex your hostess skills.

Fall is the perfect time of year to gather people together outside.  Especially for someone with little to no experience with outdoor entertaining. 

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Outdoor entertaining in the fall is one of the best times to flex your hostess skills.

Fall is the perfect time of year to gather people together outside.  Especially for someone with little to no experience with outdoor entertaining. 

There’s a cool, crisp air that rarely requires more than a jacket or blanket during the day.  Moreover, the mosquitos and flies are kept at bay.

There are also a lot of outdoor activities and sporting events in the fall that will give you plenty of opportunities to gather folks together.

So, if you’re thinking about giving outdoor entertaining in the fall a go, here are a few tips to ensure your event is a success.

outdoor entertaining in the fall

Pros & Cons of Entertaining Outdoors in The Fall

CON – Chilly / Early Snow

This may be more of a concern for some than others depending on your location.  While most people will stop by for even a short while if it’s a chilly fall day, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone to hang out in snow flurries with you.

If you live in the northern part of the country like New England or the Great Lakes area you may want to keep your fall entertaining plans to September or early October.

Also, once the sun goes down the temperature will drop quickly so plan your event for the daytime when the sun is shining.

If you live in a southern state as I do, you can host an outdoor event well into November.

CON – Lawn Care – Leaves / Raking

Another con when it comes to outdoor entertaining in the fall is leaf cleanup. While this can be a big chore if you don’t have a leaf blower, it’s one you don’t want to skip if you’re inviting guests to your home.

While dry crunchy leaves are fun to step on, wet, muddy leaves on a walkway or deck can be a hazard.

So, be prepared to do a little leaf clean up the day before or the morning of your event.  Make sure your stairs, pathways, and deck are clear.

Raking Leaves

PRO – Less Mosquitos & Summer Pests

With the farewell of summer, the presence of mosquitos and summer pests has lessened. 

This is another reason why fall is a great time to entertain outdoors.

PRO – More availability for guests now that summer travel has slowed down

In the states, Labor Day, which is the first Monday in September, signals the end of summer.

And with school back in session, it means that people have slowed down on travel.  As a result, more people are likely to be home and available to attend your event.

That being said, stay away from the holidays if you can because people are likely to travel for Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

PRO – You can host more people than you would be able to comfortably indoors

There’s a reason why fall weddings are so popular.  The weather is ideal for an outdoor ceremony.  Moreover, you’re less likely to run into occupancy limits if you’re entertaining outside.

The same is true for entertaining at home. If you have a spacious backyard, you can host more people outdoors comfortably than you will be able to indoors. 

Tips For Entertaining Outdoors In The Fall

While the weather is mild during the early fall months, it can get quite chilly. To make sure your guests are comfortable, here are a few tips for entertaining outdoors.

1. Provide hot beverage options 

Hello, hot cocoa! Providing hot beverage options is a great way to give guests a chance to warm up their bodies without needing to retreat indoors.

Also, consider having at least one option with a little spice to it.  This is another great way to warm up the body.

Here are a few popular fall beverage options: 

  • Pumpkin Spice Latte
  • Hot Ginger Tea
  • Mexican Hot Chocolate
  • Traditional Hot Chocolate
  • Caramel Vanilla Chai Tea
  • London Fog
  • Peppermint Mocha 
hot chocolate bar sign

2. Patio Heaters / Fire Pit at night

If you are hosting in the evening in the fall be prepared with patio heaters or a fire pit to help keep folks warm when the sun goes down.  

Both are great options to keep the ambiance toasty and cozy and will stop your guests from running to their cars.

outdoor entertaining in the fall - patio heaters

3. Tabletop fire pits for a sitdown dinner

While candles are great for ambiance, they don’t do much in the way of heat when you’re outdoors.

Tabletop fire pits are not only an aesthetic bonus, they’re great for a short-range heating source as well. 

Tabletop fire bowls and fire pits have been around in the Asian barbecue scene for a while.

But more and more they’re being used for at-home dinner parties. 

The open flames are a great way to add a little warmth and to keep the environment cozy for guests. 

Wayfair.com – Lara Table Fire® Firebowl

4. Embrace the seasonal trends like roasting marshmallows, hot apple cider, hot chocolate, warm peanuts

Fall is all about being cozy and bonding with loved ones. This is also the best season for roasting marshmallows, hot apple cider, warm peanuts, and hot chocolate. 

Even classics like butter cake, pumpkin cheesecakes, and cobbler are great to offer when you are hosting in the fall.

But of course, sticking to crowd favorites may be your easiest route.  This is because the fall favorites for many people require very simple ingredients.

Moreover, large batches of cider and hot chocolate can be made in a slow cooker and kept warm for guests for an extended period of time.

5. Offer warm soup

Boy oh boy do I love a bowl of soup.  It’s a great way to warm yourself up at an outdoor gathering.

The thing is, when it comes to soups you can serve outdoors, not all are created equal.

Ideally, you’ll want to stick to sipping soups.  These are ones that can be served in a mug or to-go cup and don’t necessarily require a spoon.

TheKitchn.com has a great list of sipping soups in their post “Grab a Mug: The Best Soups for Sipping”.  Included on this list is one of my personal favorites, split pea soup.

A nice spicy chili would also be great. Although it’s not exactly a sipping soup.

But I digress, consider offering a hot soup option if you’re outdoor entertaining in the fall.  Your guests will be delighted with another warm option that they can carry around with them that isn’t just a beverage.

outdoor entertaining in the fall - warm soup

6. Outdoor activities that keep people mobile

You never want your guests to be huddled together under a blanket like they’re watching a football game on a cold evening.

Bean bag toss, rings toss, cornhole, horseshoes, giant connect four, croquet, giant tumbling towers, shuffle toss, shuffleboard, lawn bowling, table tennis, the list goes on.

Farmer’s markets and art festivals are also big in the fall.  If you happen to live within walking distance to one consider coordinating times with the event.

You can work in a stroll to the market or festival with your party itinerary.  You and your guests could walk down together and meet back at your house for hot soup and finger foods.

This is a great way to keep folks active and warm during an outdoor gathering.

7. Offer blankets and cushioned seating

When you’re entertaining outdoors in the fall, blankets and seat cushions are a must-have.

There’s nothing worse than a cold seat when it’s chilly outside.  So make sure you have some cushions on your patio furniture and a few throw blankets available for folks that want or need to sit down.

While having an activity or two that will keep folks moving is great, you still need to be prepared for those who either can’t or don’t want to participate.

Give them a comfortable place in the sun to sit, chat, and enjoy a warm beverage with a blanket in their lap.

When it comes to warm and cozy seating outdoors in the fall, a seat cushion and a blanket really do work as a team.  

Having just one of these items may not be enough to keep someone comfortable outside for hours.  And as the hostess, ensuring your guest’s comfort is your top priority. 

cushioned seating

8. Try to place seating in full sun areas

Just as a shaded patio in the summer can feel 10 degrees cooler, the same shaded patio is enough to make the difference between being comfortable in the sunshine on a mild day and being downright chilly in the shadows.

You should pack up the patio umbrellas in the fall and let the full sunshine down on your party zones.

Positioning seating areas in the sun helps to not only keep your guests from feeling chilly but also warms up your furniture.


Outdoor entertaining in the fall doesn’t have to be cold and uncomfortable. It’s actually the ideal time to host outside.

Keep your guests entertained and comfortable by picking out a few fun activities that can be played outdoors.

Make sure you have some blankets on hand as well as some hot food and beverage items and your event is sure to be a success.

If you found this post helpful, share it with a friend and join the mailing list before you go.  I’ll send you a copy of my weekly newsletter filled with weekend reads, decorating inspiration, and the latest deals on home decor.

For more from Dianne Decor follow me on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Medium.

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