Fall Entertaining Buzz with Family, Friends, and Football Written by: Anne Valgoi

Our Fabulous Entertaining Contributor Anne is back with some great Fall ideas: 

Happy fall y’all !  As temperatures begin to dip slightly, many of us are gathering

outdoors for special events or long-awaited family reunions.  In fact, my family

recently assembled for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began.  My

sweet mother hosted the event at her beautiful home called “The Birches” which

is located within the rolling mountains of Southern Vermont.  Normally we get

together at Christmas time but this past year we opted to safely wait until the end

of the summer.  Of note, my immediate family consists of twenty-seven

individuals ranging in age from a spry 88-year-old to an active 3-year-old


With any event, it is important to be creative and add extra personal touches

such as special flowers on the tables, party lights strung from the trees, use a new

location, or perhaps serve a different menu than one would expect.  We opted to

serve cocktails and appetizers underneath the beautiful birch trees on my

mother’s garden front lawn.  The area was ideal to mix / mingle and share the

much anticipated family hugs and high fives (I have five brothers)!  The high-top

cocktail tables were adorned with flowy, white linen tablecloths and freshly cut

garden flowers (featuring yellows, reds, and lovely hues of orange) arranged by

myself and my mom.


Our dinner menu was special in the fact that we served the “unexpected”

……delectable Maine lobsters, grilled corn on the cob, delicious

grain salads, lush garden salads and freshly roasted vegetables.  We did have help

from New England based private chef and caterer, Stephanie Cmar

(@stephaniecmar) and her husband, David.  Stephanie was a competitor on three

seasons of Top Chef and became a finalist as well.


 We dined under the large party tent and experienced an exquisite culinary delight

while we savored the breathtaking views of the mountain ranges during sunset.

Additionally, dessert consisted of scrumptious strawberry shortcake with fresh



     With any successful event, I find it important to add some form of

entertainment or surprise! Hence, we enjoyed dancing to various requested tunes

as my high school nephew acted as the family DJ and for those nondancers, we

had a lively cornhole competition.  My sweet husband enjoyed teaching our

three-year-old grandson, Nolan, the art of the corn-hole toss until the little one

lost interest and decided it was time to roast marshmallows at the campfire.

     Whether you are entertaining your neighborhood friends with flare or making

a home-cooked dinner for your aging parents, it is paramount to gather safely

and be Covid respectful of each other. My garden club has recently restarted it’s

monthly meeting/luncheon and instead of congregating in individual homes as we

previously had, we opted for alfresco dining under the Park Pavilion.  My group

hosted the first meeting and we had to think outside the box! We decided to use

a fall “picnic” theme utilizing burlap tablecloths and twine-tied silverware. Large

wooden serving bowls and baskets as well as pewter bowls adorned the food

table creating a relaxing atmosphere. We utilized autumn flowers such as

bright sunflowers, mums, and colorful zinnias for table décor.  The event was

delightfully catered by Flower Child- a new natural, health eatery.  And Apple

Cider Mimosas provided that extra special touch.

     Fall entertaining can not be complete without attending or hosting a football

tailgate, especially in the South.   This month in place of my usual dip, I opted

to prepare something more creative,“Caramelized Bacon”, a delicious recipe

by Ina Garten from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.  This recipe is

tasty and simple to prepare.   Needless to say, the platter was completely finished

within the first 30 minutes of the party!

     Entertaining for many is challenging but it can be pleasurable with some extra

thought and a little planning.  This fall season be sure to take advantage of the

fabulous weather and invite a few friends over for pumpkin spiced lattes on the

front porch or better yet, host an intimate outdoor gathering for your favorites.  Cheers…




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