Posted by Jay Harris in Home Design

With the advent of autumn and the arrival of cooler weather comes the perfect opportunity to entertain your friends and family by hosting your own dinner party or social gathering out on your back deck. And a memorable evening is within your grasp by taking care of the basics beforehand.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one covers the entire concept of fall dining/entertaining out on the deck with a single shot! You’ve got sparkling lights in the background coupled with an entirely autumn tablescape complete with candles, fall foliage and a bit of bling with the glittering seasonal fruit display.

Let’s take a closer look at each aspect as we break down the merry must-haves for hosting your own fall festivities in your backyard.

Let There Be Light

One thing is certain: you can’t have an outdoor party in the evening without a little bit of light!

Whether dangling festive lanterns down from the lumber rafters or from the railing of your deck, incorporating larger pops of illumination is a fun way to set the lighthearted mood and see the faces of your friends at the same time.

Additionally, consider draping string lights over your fence and around the perimeter of your backyard to create subtle ambience and add an air of whimsy to your gathering. After all, who says string lights only belong on Christmas trees?

Now that everything is in clear view, it’s time to tackle the table.

Fall Foliage

Set the scene by mixing in autumnal hues wherever you need a pop of color. The rich reds and oranges combined with the jewel-toned berries and woodsy browns are the perfect palette for leaving no doubt about the evening’s theme: fall has arrived!

Whether comprised of composite decking or natural lumber, your outdoor deck space is only enhanced by incorporating more of the earthy beauty surrounding it so feel free to apply the colors of fall liberally throughout.

For a festive centerpiece, consider placing a few thick candles inside the willowy confines of a fall wreath made out of dried vines or branches. Accent the piece with a few sprigs of berries or seasonal fruit.

*Tip: Give your décor a glittery boost by spray painting your accent pieces with metallic gold, copper or silver spray paint or even spraying them with glue adhesive and then dipping them in glitter. To add texture and balance out the sparkle, incorporate some decorations in their natural state, like unadorned pinecones and fallen leaves.

Pretty Perimeter

Moving away from the center of the table and to the surrounding areas, if you have thick railings around your deck, place tiny votive candles in little autumn pails all around the outdoor space.

Alternatively, you could hang autumn-appropriate planters and baskets from the railing.

For the ultimate in fall and flowers, carve out the interior of a pumpkin and use it as a “gourd-geous” planter for a bunch of mums!

Fun Finger Foods

And what type of party would it be without a bit of food? Give your guests a bite to eat in bite-sized portions that can easily be managed with one hand and that don’t require plates or silverware. This way, they have a free hand for a cool drink or a warm beverage and you aren’t stuck with dish duty or garbage clean-up afterwards!

Easy Breezy

If you live in a warmer climate or the air has yet to adopt the brisk chill you were hoping for, keep the environment cool by placing a few freestanding fans around the deck. Not only will this keep your guests comfortable but it will also discourage unwelcome guests like gnats and mosquitoes from crashing your party.

*Tip: Remember those candles? Make some of the ones on the perimeter of the deck citronella candles to really drive home to the bugs that they are not on the list!

What are some of your favorite fall decorations for outdoor dining and entertaining?


Jay Harris


Jay Harris is a Home Depot “on the floor” sales associate in Illinois and a regular contributor on decking tips for Home Depot’s website. Jay also writes often on outdoor home lumber projects, including tips on fences, patios, and children’s playsets.

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