Tips for Planning A Harvest Party

We recently hosted a harvest party that I'd been dreaming about for years! The autumn gathering, beneath our oaks and maples on a splendid fall day in New England, brought together our family and some young families that are dear to us. We began with activities for the kids, moved on to a candlelit dinner of chili cooked over a roaring fire, and ended with a dessert buffet while an almost full moon rose over the treetops. 

So many people have written to ask for my harvest party planning tips, that I thought I'd tell you how our fall party came together, so it will make things easier for anyone who wants to host a harvest party for their family and friends.

Start by dreaming up what your ideal harvest party will be. No rules. No limits. Just dream. Ours began as a dream of mine and it just sort of percolated in my head for several years. When you have so many ideas in your head that you feel you just can't keep track of them anymore, go to Pinterest and start a Harvest Party board (click here to see mine), and pin images that encapsulate all your harvest party plans. rules, no limits. Mine contains images for: food, what I might wear, music, games...but mostly the images revolve around the feel or the vibe I wanted it to have.

Now it's time to move those dreams into reality. My Pinterest Harvest Party board contains (at last count) 322 pins, but I could certainly not incorporate all of those ideas into a single party. To help edit all your pins/dreams into a reasonable/real party, it is incredibly helpful to create a party mood board. It's not just incredibly helpful, it's a game changer. It's a lovely, visual representation (and a goal reminder) of what you want to create. I created mine by copying and pasting images from my Pinterest board onto four, 8 1/2" x 11" Publisher documents which I labeled: Snacks, Menu, Kids' Activities, and Ambiance. The mood board contains all the ideas you are actually going to use for your harvest party.

Your mood board is an excellent place to pencil in notes to yourself as you make your plans more concrete. I used it to break down the pictures into lists of everything planned and lists of everything we would need. Here are how I elaborated on my mood boards to create our harvest party:


pretzels, popcorn, dried apricots, apples, mixed nuts, cider
sliced chicken sausage for roasting with assorted mustards
(Here I made notations that I would need cups for cider,
a crock for nuts, a nutcracker, etc.)


Chili (Jenny Steffens Hobick's is the best! Click here for recipe.
Note: 1 1/2 batches served 15 adults.)
Chili Fixings - tortilla chips, Frittos, sour cream, green onions, shredded cheese, cilantro
Mac-n-Cheese (for the kids)
Harvest Salad
Wine and Hard Cider
Plum Almond Crumble
Apple Pie Bars (click here for recipe)
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread


bobbing for apples
(need: a large, galvanized tub, apples with stems to make it easier for small children)
pumpkin carving
(need: pumpkins, tables, spoons, knives)
donut "catching"*
(need: donuts, string, slender piece of wood)
ring toss onto pumpkins
(need pie pumpkins with tall, straight stems, rings)

* Buy lots of donuts, because adults will want to play too!


Here I listed everything we'd need for practicality and atmosphere.
pumpkins, cornstalks, tables/chairs, wool blankets, skewers, trash cans, firewood, napkins, string of lights, hay bales, flower/leaves, mini pumpkins for little ones to take home, flatware, lanterns, etc.

Issue your invitations and you've got the ball rolling! We kept invites simple with just a Facebook message group invite.
Yes, it's a fair amount of work to host a harvest party. But it creates such happy memories for everyone, that it's completely worth all the effort. I would say that it took me about four days of concerted effort to pull everything together -- shop, make food, etc. And it took three of us about four hours to set up the day of the party. Enlisting help of willing family and friends would be a great idea! In addition to the smiles on everyone's faces, the laughter of the kids, and the general air of relaxed happiness that hung over the party, I will long remember it as one of the funnest parties we've had in ages!

Happy Harvest Party planning!


  1. Beautiful! I enjoy seeing your ideas. And always includes kids ideas also! Andrea

  2. What a lovely day you all had. Such wonderful ideas for the party. Thank you for sharing. Just one question...did you have an alternative rain date? Planning something for outdoors always worries me that it will rain, and then what???

    1. Oh, that's a great question! Yes, we had a rain date from the moment we issued the invitation. Weather can be unpredictable in October, and it drizzled until about 11 a.m. the day of the party, but thankfully it moved out after that.

  3. Looks like a well-planned and wonderfully executed event! And it was beautiful . . . magazine-worthy! You had me as soon as I saw those lovely plaid throws on the backs of the chairs!

    Applause, applause!!

    1. Thank you, Cheryl! The wool blankets are essential...beautiful and practical!

  4. All the essentials for a fitting nod to autumn with fun and food for all ages. Brilliantly choreographed. Thank you for sharing every little detail. Perfection.

    1. Thank you so much! It was such a fun party...from planning until end!


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