Host a Fall Farm-to-Table Dinner Party
Rustic Table Setting for Outdoor Fall Entertaining
With a few seasonal touches, such as vases made from squash, a rustic picnic table becomes a show-stopping setting for a fall dinner party — without interfering with the spectacular view from Gooseberry Knob at The Swag Country Inn near Waynesville, N.C.
Jason Kisner, Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Fall is the ideal time of year for alfresco entertaining: It's cool enough to enjoy the outdoors comfortably, and changing leaves offer up a veritable kaleidoscope of color. This autumn, invite friends and family to an outdoor celebration of the season, complete with farm-to-table recipes, rustic DIY table decorations and step-by-step instructions to make your party shine.
Find the Right Location
An outdoor party designed to let guests take in the fall color needs a location where leaves are on full display. Selecting the location should be first on your list — even before the invitations — as fall-perfect destinations typically book up quickly as leaves reach their peak.
We chose The Swag Country Inn in Waynesville, N.C., for our fall dinner party. Located atop a 5,000-foot ridge about 50 minutes west of Asheville, the inn offers unparalleled views of mountain ranges in the adjacent Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Even if you plan to host this party in your own backyard, you'll need to time the event when leaves will be at their peak. Refer to local weather websites (and your memory) for the best date.
Western North Carolina is known the world over as a breathtakig spot to take in fall's most colorful foliage. Located about 50 miles from Asheville, N.C., the resort's high elevation means leaves typically reach their peak in mid-October, a week or two before color is at its finest down below.
Garden to Table
An onsite chef, who prepares gourmet breakfasts, lunches and dinners for guests, draws inspiration from what's in season. The Swag gardener tends herbs, flowers and vegetables in the Inn's garden, shown here, and around the grounds, and the chef sources meat and remaining produce from nearby farms.
Welcome to The Swag!
A weathered sign surrounded by fall flowers greets guests upon arrival. The inn is open from late April to late November each season. Check The Swag's website for current availability.
The Table Decor
Draw inspiration from the season's flowers, plants and foilage to create a casual table setting perfect for dining alfresco. Discover how we mixed DIY projects with vintage finds to create a rustic-chic look.
Freshly-cut dahlias from The Swag's garden tucked into a bark-covered pillar vase are the star of this rustic centerpiece. Cockscombs and sunflowers purchased at a local farmers' market fill in the arrangement.
Butternut Squash Vases
Shorter vases made from humble butternut squash line each end of the table. Learn how to create your own squash vases in just a few easy steps. Get the full instructions for this project now.
Paint Sticks Turned Table Runner
Simple place settings are ideal for casual outdoor entertaining. Upgrade from paper plates and plastic silverware to clean-lined silverware and plain white plates. An antiqued metal charger adds vintage charm.
Dressed-Up Paper Runners
A kraft paper runner is an inexpensive and stylish option for an outdoor soiree. We dressed ours up for the party with a leaf-shaped stamp and gold ink. Running the paper cross-wise eliminates the need for placemats.
Decorative Gourds (and Pumpkins)
Forget round, smooth orange pumpkins — for a farm-to-table celebration, bring out non-traditional varieties of oblong squash, pumpkins and gourds to decorate the space. Faux-fur throws draped over seating areas keep guests warm throughout dinner.
Recipes full of fall's freshest produce are the way to go here. Visit your local farmers' market for inspiration. Don't limit your purchases to vegetables; local, pasture-raised meats, baked goods, jams and honey can also make seasonally- and geographically-appropriate additions to your meal.
We asked The Swag's chef, Ronnie Potter-Bowers, to create an ideal fall menu at the resort, including a soup, salad, entree and dessert. Get his exclusive recipes right here.
When searching for spirits, think local, local, local. Is there a winery near your event space that can help you pair wines with local produce? For beer lovers, a sampling from regional breweries might be more appropriate. Utilize local distilleries to give that extra-special touch to before or after-dinner drinks. Then sit back, enjoy the view and raise a glass to a delicious evening!