Host a Fall Farm-to-Table Dinner Party

Celebrate fall's bounty amidst the season's brightest foliage with our step-by-step instructions for throwing an autumn farm-to-table dinner party.
Rustic Table Setting for Outdoor Fall Entertaining

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.

Photo by: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.

Celebrate Fall's Bounty in the Smoky Mountains

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Fall at 5,000 Feet

Located at more than 5,000 feet amidst the peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains, The Swag Country Inn's name comes from its unique location atop a bowl-like ridge between two mountain peaks.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

A Hikers' Paradise

Just beyond this rough-hewn fence lies the border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Guests have direct access to the park, in addition to private trails located on the 250-acre resort property.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Peaking Foliage

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.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Gooseberry Knob

We chose to host our casual farm-to-table dinner party atop Gooseberry Knob, which offers panoramic views of North Carolina's highest peaks.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Views for Miles

Four of North Carolina's six highest mountain ranges are best viewed from this perch-like overlook atop Gooseberry Knob: the Great Smokies to the northwest, the Plott Balsams and Richland Balsams to the southwest and the Black Mountains to the east.

Photo By: Jason Kisner © 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Fall at Its Best

Fall foliage in its full glory at The Swag Country Inn.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

See the Sunrise

Gooseberry Knob offers unparalleled views of the sunrise over the distant North Carolina Mountain ranges.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Glorious Fall Blooms

Fall flowers grown on site took center stage for our farm-to-table centerpiece. Cut flowers from the grounds are also a fixture at nightly three-course dinners.

Photo By: Liz Gray ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Rustic Charm

The Swag House is the center for meals and activities on the grounds, with additional guest rooms and suites located in rustic-chic cabins within walking distance.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.

Rustic Fall Table Setting Ideas for Outdoor Celebrations

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Entertain Alfresco

With a few seasonal touches, 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.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Freshly-Cut Flowers

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.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.

Cabbage Patch

In keeping with the farm-to-table feel, vegetables like squash, chard and cabbages are mixed in with bright fall florals.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Non-Traditional Planter

Here, a vintage sugar bowl missing its lid is repurposed as a pot for these colorful fall greens.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Paint Sticks Turned Table Runner

Leftover paint sticks find new life as a chich herringbone table runner. All you need? Wooden sticks, felt, spray adhesive and some copper spray paint. Get step-by-step instructions for this project.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Simple Settings

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.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Watercolor Accents

Transform basic linen napkins into painterly accents that nod to the hues of fall foilage. Mix red, yellow and purple dyes with a bit of water, then brush on strips of color and blend until you achieve the desired effect.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Mix-and-Match Napkins

Mixing watercolored napkins with vintage dish towels gives the table a casual, collected feel.

Photo By: Jason Kisner © 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Mini Succulent Planters

Elegant mini white pumpkins do double duty as a place-marker and take-home favor. Get step-by-step instructions to create these planters now.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Rustic Chic

Try this rustic, farm-inspired table setting for your next fall gathering.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The Food

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.

Farm-To-Table Party

Farm-To-Table Party

Celebrate fall's bounty amid the season's brightest foliage with our step-by-step instructions for throwing an autumn farm-to-table dinner party.

Photo by: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Jason Kisner, Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The Drinks

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!

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