To celebrate the birthdays of three of our closest friends (Devin, Katie and Matt) we decided to throw a Fall Feast dinner party for 35. This was also a great opportunity to spend time with those in from out of town and friends we don’t see as often as we would like. Our backyard was the venue for the evening and we were able to utilize the space in our guest house to set up the buffet, which was super helpful.
Probably one of our biggest visions for the feast was a long table canopied with strings of lights to provide a soft glow and the feeling of being at a cute French bistro. To accomplish this, we measured out the length of the tables from end to end, and then the width that we would need for people to get in and out of their chairs. We used 8 ft tree support stakes and drove them into the yard with the help of a ladder and mallet. We borrowed a hand auger to help with the holes but the ground was soft enough to push through. The trickiest part was avoiding the sprinkler lines, eek!
Once the poles were in, the lights were strung in a zigzag across the table. We needed 5 strings to cover the 24 feet of table in this formation. These are sold at Home Depot year round, but hard to find around Christmas time. Target was our best bet for these types of lights.
We wanted one long table to seat everyone picnic style. We ordered 3 8ft tables from our local party outfitters Party People, they are great to work with and have everything under the sun for entertaining. We also needed 35 chairs and chose to go with natural wood folding chairs to add a touch of character.
PLATES AND NAPKINS
I wanted the feel of the dinner to be homey and warm so plastic was out of the question. To add some color and variety to the table, we scoured local thrift shops for mismatching plates and napkins for the table settings. Each plate was around $1, some being half off, and the napkins were under .75 each. I would say we spent around $60 for all the plates and napkins which could really be chalked up in the decorations budget. For silverware I pulled out my great-grandfather’s silver that was recently passed down to me, mixed in with some $9.99 cheap sets from Wal-Mart – quite the ironic mix but it worked.
I’d come this far with the plates and napkins so I couldn’t justify having the Red Solo Cup litter my pretty table. Yes, I’m kind of crazy. We purchased a few dozen 16 oz mason jars, which will come in handy for parties to come. The best deal was actually from Kmart online for under $1 each. We normally have everyone write their names on plastic cups and obviously couldn’t do that with the mason jars. I found chalkboard tags in the wedding section at Micheals that worked out really well (only the string around the tag was not long enough so we had to tie them to the mugs with wooden string, which was conveniently already sitting in the corner of our shed). I used a chalkboard paint pen to write each guest’s name on their glass. These worked out great for keg beer, wine and ice water.
For the centerpieces I stained wooden crates (found at Michaels for $5 each) and filled them with Spanish moss, pillar candles and fall pumpkins, leaves and berries. The silks and pumpkins were actually 80% off at Hobby Lobby, making each bundle under a buck! Hobby Lobby always has great deals on seasonal items, even before they are out of season! I used wire cutters to cut them apart and place them appropriately.
It’s also nearly impossible to find 10” solid white pillars, so to prop them up higher we hammered nails into the bottoms of the candles and fixed them to styrofoam pieces (which were lying around from putting together the crib the night prior…more on that later). To top the tables off, we had 7 pots of fall colored mums, given to us by my wonderful mother-in-law from her Thanksgiving decorations the day before!
Last but not least, we needed FOOD for the feast! We asked everyone to bring a dish to share. I made baked ziti, our friend Wing deep friend 2 turkeys (amazing!) and Katie brought ham and potatoes. We had some other amazing sides like a squash casserole, sweet potato casserole, asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and way too many amazing desserts.
After the dinner we watched some holiday classics by the fire pit on our inflatable movie projector (such a great investment!). Christmas Vacation and Elf were the double feature for the night.
The evening was so much fun, and by far the best part was spending time with all our friends. Brandon and I like getting wrapped up in the small details and having a project to work on, but it’s nothing compared to how much we enjoy getting everyone together. This is especially true as we all start our own families and get busy with various commitments and just life in general. Are you listening friends, we will continue to bug you to hang out with us no matter how crazy life gets! Until next time….
All (good) photos are courtesy of our very talented friend Jessica Wong of Jessica Q Photography.