• Warm up a stark space with rich linens or floral centerpieces that incorporate the colors and flowers of the season.
• Use harvest colors, such as brown, orange, maroon and gold, to create seasonal flair.
• Fall harvest vegetables can be used as centerpieces -- items such as gourdes, mini pumpkins, squash, etc.
• Warm up the room with lots of candles.
Autumn usually is associated
with dry, comfortable weather, but this time of year still can be hurricane season and bring continued heat in the far south, or days of cold, blustery rain and even light snow in the north. Planners of fall events should take potential extremes into account.
Consider the following advice from Carolyn Vinup, business and partnership development consultant for D'Amico Catering in Minneapolis, with input from event-planning teams at D'Amico Catering and its sister organization, Lurcat Catering, in Naples, Fla. PICK YOUR SETTING•
An upscale venue is fitting if you're rewarding top clients. For an employee reception, guests might prefer to unwind in a more casual, comfortable setting.•
Look for a view. A venue with natural light and views of fall colors will help highlight the season.•
Consider museums that offer both event space and entertainment in the form of galleries and exhibits for guests to enjoy.•
For a casual event, consider a venue with a fire pit or an area for a bonfire. Make sure ample outdoor seating is available for guests. PREPARE FOR THE WEATHER
Fall can be a beautiful time to dine al fresco, but carefully think through your plan, because it also can be a time of unpredictable weather swings. Depending on the event's location, you might experience some of the most comfortable weather of the year or significant extremes -- heat, hurricanes, frost or even snow. •
If you will be outdoors in a chilly climate, have blankets or wraps, hand warmers and foot warmers on hand, or bring in space heaters. Have umbrellas available in case of rain. •
Consider holding the event during the hours of the day when temperatures typically are most comfortable.
PLAN YOUR MENU
Discuss fall menu ideas with your caterer. What is in season in the region? What dishes will highlight and help celebrate the season?•
Ask about any seasonal menus the caterer might already have on hand.•
Select items that incorporate the spices and flavors associated with the season, such as cinnamon, clove and sage.•
Consider how beverages can enhance the menu, such as a hearty wine to complement a rustic vineyard dinner, or an excellent beer for an Oktoberfest menu.•
Include a warm beverage station for indoor or outdoor events. Serve hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks, hot chocolate with marshmallows and chocolate shavings, or coffee with cordials such as Bailey's, Kahlua and amaretto.•
When it's chilly outside, offer guests a signature cocktail served warm. Many of today's mixologists are highly skilled at creating unique cocktails to complement an event theme and menu.
• For casual events, offer simple seasonal dishes such as mini bratwurst with mustard, soft pretzels, strudel, etc. These items also work well as late-night appetizers.•
Consider offering s'mores for dessert.
CREATE AN EXPERIENCE•
Make sure the event touches on all five senses. For example, beautiful décor is pleasing to the eye; a live grilling station appeals to the sense of smell; lively music further enhances the experience, and so on.•
To get guests involved in the experience, consider adding a "growler station" where they can sample local beers, or an interactive food station, as part of your event.