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October is a great month to host a party. People's schedules haven't become so busy that even the mention of a party makes them want to run in the opposite direction (those of you who host parties on Thanksgiving or Christmas know what I'm talking about). The cooler weather makes an outdoor gathering more comfortable and usually bug free. And your menu is calling to you from your now-bountiful garden. It's time for a high-class garden party!
There are two things that you ideally want to link together when you're planning a garden party: your setting and your menu.
First, here are a few words on the atmosphere you want to create for your party. If you can set up some tables and comfortable chairs in a garden setting, great! However, you don't need to be surrounded by a garden to get that "harvest" feel. You can start by covering your tables in fabric table clothes that feature Autumn's famous colors. You can go with one color or, if you have 3 or more tables to cover, a combination of reds, golds, oranges, and browns. Centerpieces can feature pumpkins, dried corn, sunflowers, and even some brightly colored leaves from the backyard. Include candles to add great lighting and interest. The number one rule when decorating for your party is: Be creative! Use items from your garden, your closet, and your backyard.
Now, on to the food! Part of what makes fall garden parties such fun is that the menu actually becomes a major decorating feature. The bounty you harvest from your garden ends up adding colors, textures, and aromas that inevitably add to the atmosphere around you. Of course, once your guests start digging in, the fun is only multiplied. Below are some festive suggestions about what to serve at a garden party:
When I plan a party for more than eight guests, I usually nominate one table to act as a buffet and encourage my guests to help themselves. If you plan on serving the sorbet after dinner -- which I suggest -- bring individual wine glasses of it out on a large serving tray. It's a refreshing end to a festive meal.
I have a couple of beverage suggestions to accompany your meal. If you have invited an adult audience, you should feel free to make your favorite white wine available. However, I also try to include a non-alcoholic choice. A perfect match for this menu would be fresh apple cider served in a large glass pitcher. For added flair, position several small apples in the pitcher so that they show through the glass. If you do this, make sure you have additional cider on hand. The apples will displace a lot of liquid and you may need to add extra liquid several times.
Now, on to the recipes...