Dutch designer Ingrid Jansen's orange chairs and a wool garland: Fall decor doesn't have to be over the top. (Photo …Although summer is the dominant season for outdoor entertaining, don't overlook the potential of fall for the best outdoor parties. The fall air is crisp and cooler, the sun isn't quite so bright and the leaves are turning beautiful shades of gold, orange, purple and brown.
With such a beautiful atmosphere, you don't have to do a lot to create an atmosphere for a fall party. Focus on simple things like natural decorations, lighting, seating and adding warmth.
You can't go wrong adopting a harvest theme and decorating with fresh pumpkins, corn and gourds.
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)Pumpkins are especially versatile. Hollow out a pumpkin, fill it with ice and you have an instant cooler for drinks. If you love power tools, drill holes in a hollowed-out pumpkin and put candles inside for a unique effect. You can also cut the top off a mini-pumpkin and hollow out a small hole for votives.
Reimagine the way you use dried decorative corn by stringing several ears together, tying them with twine and hanging them around the edges of your deck. You can also tie two ears together with ribbon and hammer them near the entrance or corners of your deck.
The two most important things to keep in mind about seating are space and comfort. Make sure all the guests in your party have room to sit down. If you're having a dinner party, use your patio table and chairs as the focal point and opt for a unique centerpiece to define the table as your primary space. Otherwise try rearranging your patio furniture and use the table as a place to serve food while guests mingle.
Metal or wood patio furniture can often be uncomfortable, so look for comfortable cushions for your chairs or benches. It will encourage guests to sit back and relax.
If you don't have enough patio furniture, try adding a separate table or a small seating area. Dress up a small table or TV tray with a swatch of fabric in fall colors so guests have a separate place to eat or set down their drinks.
Think of all the welcoming outdoor patios and sidewalk cafes you passed by during the summer. They create that welcoming, romantic look by the way they use lights -- strings of tiny beads of white or colored light hanging from trees or draped from poles to create an overhead canvas. Think about using themed light strands, including miniature pumpkins, leaves or grapes for a harvest celebration. Try using lots of low-wattage bulbs or invest in a dimmer to avoid blinding your guests.
To add extra light and warmth, add a portable fire pit or outdoor fireplace. Outdoor fire pits range widely in price, from about $40 to more than $1,000. While a fire pit can simply act as a warmer, it can also be a great place for guests to gather outside the dining area. So consider seating as well, whether it is chairs, tree stumps or benches.
If a fire pit isn't your style, you can opt for a patio heater to provide warmth and some ambient light for your guests. Either way, your guests will be warm, comfortable and happy.