Fall backyard party ideas: 12 ways to celebrate fall outside

These fall backyard party ideas are the perfect excuse to bring friends and family together and get cozy this season

Smiling family and friends sitting at table for social gathering
(Image credit: Maskot / Getty)

Mark the changing seasons with these fall backyard party ideas. Simple, stylish and above all fun to do, they embrace the cooler temperatures, darker evenings and the natural rich tones of fall, transforming your yard into a magical space for entertaining.

Set the scene with strings of outdoor lights and lanterns, glowing firepits and oodles of blankets and throws, and invite friends and family over to share the joy. Re-imagine feel-good traditions such as Jack O’Lantern carving, making and dressing entranceways with harvest garlands and the best of fall’s floral beauties. 

Give the dining table a real end-of-harvest feel too by layering up with homespun ginghams, earthy linens and tactile hand thrown tableware. Surround with pots and vases brimming with cut branches of vivid fall foliage, and fill planters with a rustic mix of seasonal annuals, sun ripe grasses and farm gate produce such as ornamental corn, gourds, pumpkins and squash.

Whatever your plans - a complete yard overhaul or just a few stylish fall outdoor decor details - these fall backyard party ideas are guaranteed to inspire. 

Embrace sweater-weather with these fall backyard party ideas

The cooler weather needn't be an obstacle for outdoor entertaining. With a few warming additions for your guests, whether those be throws, a crackling outdoor fire or hot drinks, you'll be good to go.

And the vibrant tones that we all associate with fall make the perfect backdrop for your DIY outdoor fall decorations for a sparkling seasonal get-together.

1. Make your fall party magical with layers of light

A richlly lit outdoor table at night time

(Image credit: Sparkle Lighting)

You simply can’t beat outdoor fairy lights for bringing a magical touch and sense of occasion to your autumn outdoor living ideas. ‘Perfect for decorating overhead or to run along a table, you just need some trees or poles to attach them to create a look like this,’ says Thalia Shaw of Sparkle Lighting

'These pretty starburst outdoor fairy lights are perfect for bringing some sparkle to a party. Team with hanging starburst lights and real or battery powered pillar and dinner candles to heighten the impact.’

2. Dress the front entrance with a fall garland

A large autumnal archway around a front door

Faux and dried florals, all Dobbies

(Image credit: Dobbies)

Show your home and guests some harvest-time love by making a stunning floral door surround. Late garden blooms and greenery, textured grasses, seedheads and seasonal crops such as ornamental corn and dried gourds can all be intertwined to create a beautiful surround, or smaller fall wreath idea, that is rich with color and interest. 

Dobbies’ stylist, Abbie McCann shares her tips for combining long-lasting and versatile faux and dried florals to stunning effect. 'Starting with a wooden arch covered with chicken wire, group foliage to create your base around the arch. We’ve used a selection of Hedera Ivy and Conifer, which can often be foraged,' says Abbie.

A mix of stems, real and faux, dried and fresh, can be used to bring color and texture to your fall front porch ideas. Abbie's top tip to make your autumn door wreath display last longer is to place real florals into small test tubes of water as this will keep your real foliage looking fresh for longer.

3. Combine fairy lights with vibrant fall leaves

Autumnal leaves strung with fairy lights

(Image credit: Annabel James)

Treat simple fairy lights to a stunning fall upgrade by adding dried, cut felt or paper leaves in vivid shades of red, gold, purple and russet. Lending them an evocative and decorative twist they are sure to dazzle both day and night, when they cast a rich and warming glow. 

Drape your bespoke string of lights over a gate or doorway, twist round a pergola or arbour or around your fall planters. You could simply display on a backyard dining table where they can be admired. 

Keep it local and natural by gathering a selection of fallen leaves on a family walk or forage around your backyard and local area. Aim for a mix of vibrant shades and contrasting shapes and sizes and once home, press dry with paper towel and leave to dry. Attach to the light string using clear scotch tape on the reverse side or – if you have the time and patience – tie around the stalks with thread.

4. Impress with a fall-themed party table

A table decorated with cut dahlia flowers

(Image credit: Sarah Raven © Jonathan Buckley)

Adding some height to your outdoor table decorating ideas will instantly impress, especially if the frame is laden with fall flowers and foliage, all interwoven with tiny white fairy lights. 

You can buy a ready-made steel frame that can be adjusted to fit the size of your table, or why not make a simple frame from timber, branches or bamboo canes and attach it securely to each table end? It can then be easily decorated and adapted to many themes. 

Designer Melanie, of Melanie Lissack Interiors  says, ‘Autumn is all about the natural browns, deep reds and burnt oranges, so in order for a garland to reflect the season, it has to embrace these colors. To keep it contemporary, I also include a lot of pink, which really complements these deeper tones.’

Dahlias are showy fall favorites that come in a huge array of different shades, shapes and sizes. Perfect for making a cheery spectacle they work brilliantly paired with punchy colored accessories – as shown in this setting by Sarah Raven – including candles, linen napkins and jewel colored glass vases.

5. Bring twinkling light to your table

Twinkling lights on an wooden outdoor table

(Image credit: Sparkle Lighting)

Make the table the focal point of your fall backyard party ideas by drawing friends and family in with the allure of twinkling lights. Whether you opt for stylish and eco-friendly glimmer of the best garden solar lights or homemade tin-can lanterns, decorated with tiny nail holes casting pinpricks of light across the table, the effect is truly enchanting. 

Maximize the effect by carefully thinking about the table surface you place your lanterns on. A white painted wood table will lend a rustic touch and natural texture to the scene, while grouping lanterns on top of a mirror, laid flat, will accentuate the effect and reflect light dramatically around the party zone. 

Pristine glassware, silver cutlery and pale table linens will all add some extra sparkle. 

6. Dine under a lantern-filled fall sky

clusters of lanterns hung over an outdoor table lit up at night

(Image credit: Sparkle Lighting)

Give your fall backyard party ideas a colorful yet intimate feel by covering your dining table with a ‘ceiling’, made from closely clustered lanterns. Either hang from an overhead pergola, utilize branches of an overhanging tree, or add a series of criss-crossing strings held taut by surrounding poles.

Thalia Shaw says: ‘If you want to go for more of a bright and playful look for your fall backyard party, outdoor solar lanterns will bring the ultimate boho vibe. These outdoor solar lights are available in various colors and shapes and work perfectly together to create an impact.' 

Aim for a mix of colors, shapes and hang in groups, concentrated above the table. Don’t worry about lining them up or hanging them all at an identical height, the more irregular your outdoor lighting, the more relaxed the vibe.

7. Design a snug for relaxed entertaining

A decked built in seating area with fire pit table

Design and build by The Garden Builders

(Image credit: The Garden Builders)

Let the flickering flames of your best fire pit take the chill off a fall get-together. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in popping a freestanding metal fire bowl down and surrounding it with garden chairs. But we find that dedicating a particular corner of the backyard for these occasions is so much more stylish, sociable and reduces the hassle factor of setting and clearing up too.

Corner bench-style seating built around the fire pit, makes the most of a smaller outside space and encourages guests to get cozy and enjoy the party vibe. Styling up the space can be part of your fall gardening checklist

Add in cushions, surround with tall and dense planting and perhaps, a decorative screen or trellis for a secluded feel, and some protection from sweeping breezes or nosy neighbors.

One major bonus of constructing a more permanent seating and fire area, is that you can really up the party atmosphere by installing low-voltage ambient backyard party lighting, and even a gas-fuelled fire pit or table. Both ready to use in an instant, they will guarantee that every occasion is celebrated in style and comfort.

8. Set the party scene with rich-colored fall foliage

A cozy outdoor nook with outdoor cushion in fall colors

(Image credit: Dobbies)

Holding a daytime fall celebration? Conjure up the perfect atmosphere by surrounding the seating area, table or entrance with rich foliage. It's a really simple way of putting autumn leaves to good use too. From butter yellow and gold to caramel, burnt toffee and deepest claret, nature’s gorgeous palette is warm, inviting and comforting. 

Fill large vases, pots and jars with leafy cut branches. These could be the result of some timely backyard pruning, nifty foraging or even a few choice boughs bought from the local florist. 

Good trees for fall color include rowan and mountain ash with their stunning combination of delicate leaves and vibrant berries. While maples, beech – which holds on to its brown leaves throughout winter – and American Sweetgum dazzle with their vivid shades.

9. Light up a doorway to welcome guests to a fall party

Front door lit up with garland and wreath

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Showcase a gateway, entrance door or outbuilding, and create a stunning party backdrop using a magical mix of string lights, all-weather candles and swags of fall foliage – fresh or artificial. 

Dot lanterns and chunky pillar candles on windowsills and tucked into other architectural openings, to illuminate rustic features and surroundings. Adorn doors or timber shutters with a central wreath. Those with bronze, yellow and golden shades work especially well – appearing to glow when washed with warm white light.

Up the impact with path lighting, plus highlight steps and changes in level with groupings of pillar candles and carriage-style lanterns. Real flickering flames are evocative but obviously a hazard, especially with dry leaves around, so opt for battery-powered outdoor versions. 

The latest products have a convincing flicker, are waterproof and even some with a built-in timer.

10. Dazzle guests with a tiered floral display

A tiered candle display with pots and dahlias

(Image credit: Sarah Raven © Jonathan Buckley)

Tiered centerpieces featuring fresh or potted fall fruits and flowers are a brilliant way of celebrating the change of season. Perfect for placing on a serving, dining or prominent side table, this garden decor display will be a true talking point for all guests. 

Freestanding flowerpot holders, a stack of terracotta pots – diminishing in size – or even sections of sawn logs piled upon one another are the perfect supports. 

Use them to show off gourds, pumpkins, squash intermingled with cut blooms, large vibrant leaves and foraged finds such as pinecones, nuts and seedheads. Adding candles and tealights will take this centerpiece well into evening.

11. Set a stylish table

Gingham napkins and wooden table

(Image credit: Farmhouse Pottery)

The key to alfresco dining is adding a touch of interest to the table. This can be done through pairing your favorite patterned napkins with simple yet beautiful flatware,’ says Savannah Maroun of Farmhouse Pottery.

‘Layering a whole table begins with the lighting. As night falls, the soft glow of candlelight will elevate your dining experience by creating an atmosphere of warmth, and complementing the beauty of nature that surrounds.’

‘Fall is the perfect time to experiment with textures, patterns, and layers. Paired with more, simple yet beautiful pieces, a patterned napkin or tablecloth will act as a statement piece to create interest, while still being in harmony with the rest of the table,’ says Savannah.

12. Personalize your Jack O'Lanterns for a fall party

Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins illuminated outside a house at night, one with flower cutouts and the other with the words Be Kind

Pumpkins and squash are the ideal seasonal fall decoration to welcome party guests

(Image credit: EyeWolf / Getty)

Not just for Halloween, give your pumpkin carving ideas a fresh twist this fall by carving favorite patterns and personal messages. Great for making guests stop and stare, they can be dotted around the backyard waiting to be discovered.

Tailor the designs to suit the occasion. Simple cut-out blooms, delicately traced swaying ears of wheat and corn, or perhaps individual guests names all work well and add a harvest time twist. 

Melon ballers and apple corers are brilliant tools for creating perfect circles, while lino cutters work exceptionally well for fine detail. Just vary the depth and width of the cut to let different levels of light through.

What is a fall harvest party?

Usually held in the autumn months, fall harvest parties can be a large or small gathering of family and/or friends at home or in the backyard. Originally to celebrate the successful gathering in of crops and to give thanks to harvest vegetables, they are an important marker in many homeowner’s year.

Autumn still life with pumpkins, corncobs and leaves

Celebrate the fall with a harvest party

(Image credit: AlexRaths / Getty)

How do you plan a backyard fall party?

Once you’ve set the date and sent out the invitations, it’s time to consider the details and there are a few staples that will get your fall backyard party off to a brilliant start.

  • Keep it warm and cozy with plenty of blankets, cushions, rugs and throws to hand.
  • Hot drinks are great for warding off a chilly evening. 
  • Make it fun with bold and quirky décor and activities that everyone can enjoy – pumpkin painting or carving, eating marshmallows off a string – no hands allowed – or traditional apple bobbing.
  • Make sure there is enough outdoor seating to hand. A mix and match approach works well for fall’s informal feel. Wooden farmhouse-style chairs, cut logs dressed with sheepskin or faux fleeces, or even straw bales covered with plaid blankets all work fantastically. 
  • Provide a source of warmth – this could be a campfire, some fun fire pit ideas or a simple fire bowl for guests to gather round.
  • Decide early on whether you are providing appetizers and snacks, a sit down meal or pot luck supper.

A covered decking area with fairy lights and chairs round a firepit

Autumn outdoor living collection from Dobbies

(Image credit: Dobbies)

What do you do at a fall party?

Laid back, informal and relaxing, these gatherings are a moment to savor the change of season and arrival of the darker, longer nights. Make your party as intimate or grand as you wish and tailor it to suit your home and personality. 

Whether you opt for fun family games, a few garden activities for kids, a cozy gathering around a campfire, a BBQ party, or just an excuse to flex your creativity and indulge in some serious craft and cooking, these occasions should be fun and encourage everyone to get involved.

Smiling family and friends sitting at table for social gathering

Fall backyard parties are the ideal excuse to spend time with friends and family

(Image credit: Maskot / Getty)
Jill Morgan
Freelance writer

Jill puts her love of plants and all things garden related down to the hours spent pottering around with her Nan and Grandad when she was little. Today she is lucky enough to have a garden of her own in Surrey, England, and spends much of her time writing about them too.