For the past couple of years, I have invited my closest friends over to Hunk House for a fall gathering of some sort. This year I decided to make it really official by hosting my very first Hunkiedorie Harvest Party. The fall is a time for harvest and gathering together with the people you love. I have two large friend groups that mean the world to me when I am asked what I am most grateful for I always am quick to answer. I am thankful for the strong bonds I have developed with my friends, I believe I am truly blessed to have such supportive and devoted friends. This harvest party was a great opportunity for me to really bring these two friend groups together. Because of the large numbers needed a large space and my parents were kind enough to let me use their gorgeous backyard as a perfect backdrop for my dream dinner party.
When I decided to attempt to throw the perfect fall dinner party I decided to focus my efforts into three areas. Decor, food, and hype. I had the wonderful opportunity to team up with the Goodwill to plan the perfect fall dinner party on a budget. I had a very clear vision of how I wanted my party to come together and looking back I feel like I hit the nail almost completely on the head. After some brainstorming with my minion (also known as Dad), we came up with a plan to build our own tables that we could break down and store after the party which would allow us to continue to reuse the tables over and over again. You can read all about our adventures in table making in my Harvest Table post coming soon! We rented brown folding chairs for around the table and bonfire pit. The end result was like something out of a magazine and I couldn’t have been happier.
I wanted the evening to have a warm glow that brought the richness of the fall colors to life throughout the night. Mr. Minion came up with the genius idea as usual and assured me that he had a plan as we jumped into the truck and headed over to Menards. We bought four 2″ x 2″ 8-foot green treat posts that we stained to match the tables. We set the tables up the morning of the party and placed a post at each corner pressed tight against the edges. Using a fence post driver we buried each post a foot into the ground so they ended up being seven feet tall when all was said and done. We strung large bulb twinkle lights in an X pattern across the tables back and forth and secured them with wire staples to the top of the poles. Down the center of the table, I had candles in different heights to complete the desired glow I was trying to create for the evening. The lighting turned out exactly how I had hoped and gave such a magical and comforting feel to the gathering.
To create the perfect cocktail station I used my Mom’s potting bench to create a little bar. Honestly, I don’t know why this isn’t a more common practice because this bar couldn’t have turned out more perfect. Complete with an ice bin, wine rack, and all the necessities required for mixing each person’s favorite concoctions. The evening was BYOB, I decided to provide all the food for the evening and asked my friends to bring all the ingredients for their favorite drinks for everyone to share.
I had an appetizer table set out so my friends could munch and mingle while I finished up in the kitchen and a dessert table for after dinner. An old wicker hamper set off to the side where people could drop their donations for the Goodwill was a perfect way to continue the harvest tradition of community and giving back as we come together.
I put a lot of thought into planning the perfect evening. This consisted of finding the perfect fall chic place settings for the tables that my dad custom built just for that evening. Check out my gallery to see the collection of Goodwill items that I was able to incorporate into my tablescape.
The decor was set. It took several months in the planning. I ended up searching through multiple Goodwill locations to pull together all the pieces I needed. But all the time and effort was worth it.
A couple of weeks before the party I started to design my menu. There are a few dietary requirements within the group so I wanted to put thought behind each course making sure there would be something for everyone. Check out my menu below!
Fireball Jell-O Shots
Pheasant Wild Rice Soup
Spinach Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Toasted Walnuts and bacon. Served with a Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette.
Pepper Rubbed Roast Chicken
Roasted Ratatouille Spaghetti
Mini Pumpkin Pies
Spice Cake Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
Turtle Thumbprint Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies
You can find all the recipes that I served for the Harvest Party on http://www.Hunkiedorie.net.
To get everyone excited and build up the evening I used the hashtag #HunkiedorieHarvestParty to document the planning process and the party itself. I designed and mailed out official invites and made menus to match for the night of the party. I still haven’t gotten to my thank you cards (also made to match), which is very out of character for me. Not only did my friends make some wonderful donations for Goodwill but they also brought me some of the best hostess gifts. (Who said adulting wasn’t fun?!)
Looking back there are a few things I look to improve upon for next year’s party. I felt so rushed the day of and was still cooking as my guests began to arrive. Next year I will try to make as much ahead of time as possible, even if that means cooking and freezing some things. Because I was still cooking as my friends were gathering I didn’t have a chance to do my hair or makeup and felt a total mess the whole party. We did light the oven on fire in our hurry and had to break out the fire extinguisher (sad I didn’t capture that one on camera). My camera died and I had to rely on other people to document for me, luckily they did a fabulous job. Next year I will set up the tables, chairs, and lights the night before so I don’t have to mess with it the day of, it was a lot more work than I had anticipated. With so much going on that day I felt very frazzled and struggled to calm down and really enjoy myself and visit with my friends the way I had hoped. Next year I hope to have party favors and decorate my table a little bit more with cloth napkins, runners and chargers. Regardless of these minor hiccups, everything else was perfect and I feel a total success.
The evening turned out exactly as I had hoped, in fact, it was even better than I could have dreamed. I have already started planning next year’s menu and coming up with plans on how to improve upon this year’s party. I would like to give a huge thank you to Goodwill Minnesota for giving me the inspiration to tackle the perfect fall dinner party. My family (especially Mr. Minion) for bringing the party to life, I feel like I mainly delegated and they did all the real work. Finally, I would like to thank my amazingly supportive friends for coming out in full force and celebrating with me.