No matter whether the sun is shining or the leaves are falling, events are happening all year round across the country. Just because that thermometer might be dropping, doesn’t mean it’s not a great time to throw a corporate or personal event. Weather you’re planning a company Halloween bash, a fall sales meeting, or a family Thanksgiving feast, fall is the perfect time to party! Below we explore our top ten favorite tips for a warm and welcoming autumnal event this year.

1. Venue – Obviously the first thing to do when planning your fall event is to decide on a location. Just because summer has ended doesn’t mean your event can’t be outdoors. In fact autumn offers some of the most beautiful and picturesque settings in many parts of the country! If you’re considering an outdoor event in a fairly cold environment then you’ll definitely want to consider tenting and heat lamps in order to keep your guests warm, cozy, and protected against the elements. Clearly for severe weather such as rain or snow, moving an event indoors may be the best option.

2. Color Scheme – Of course when anyone thinks of autumn they think of the changing leaves of deciduous trees, with colors like yellow, orange, red, purple, and obviously brown. Even though you can’t go wrong with choosing any of these options, you shouldn’t feel limited by only these few. Generally speaking fall colors should possess softer hues and subdued tones, with colors less bright than a summer or spring event. However splashes of vibrant color can also add an interesting and lively touch to your décor. Accents of bright burnt oranges, frosty blues, and wild magentas against a brown or beige base can add touches of fun and elegance at the same time. Additionally big accents for 2011 are metallics like silver, gold, copper, and bonze. Something like metallic-sprayed fake foliage can add a nice pop to table tops and centerpieces. Lastly, textured fabrics such as silk, velvet, linen, and even burlap have become popular for adding richness and flair.

3. Décor – Your décor should complement, not necessarily coincide with, your set color scheme for your linens and drapery. Centerpieces of apples, pumpkins, gourds, and cornucopias always work, and are especially great if you’re going for a very transparently classic theme. But don’t dismiss less traditional autumnal pieces, like flower bouquets of chocolate-colored roses, or purple dahlias and ornamental kale. For a simple elegant look, put your arrangements in glass vases or cloches. Or for a fun and whimsical vibe, consider using gutted pumpkins or even aluminum buckets. Also don’t overlook real indoor foliage options, like potted deciduous trees, evergreens, pinecones, and cornhusks. Accents like twigs and raffia can be wrapped around centerpieces, candles, or even napkins to add a nice rustic and woodsy feel. While wilder and more vivid flora such as fern curls, grapevines, and dusty miller can create exciting and highlighted focal points.

4. Furniture – Keeping in the autumn spirit, your furniture options should gravitate towards a cabin-in-the-woods feel. A beautiful dark cherry, walnut, or rosewood table may not even need any tablecloth. Pieces made of reclaimed wood, or possessing the branches’ natural shape, should definitely be showcased for their austerity and remain uncovered. And depending on your floor plan, consider couches instead of chairs for a warm, cozy, and homely atmosphere. If using a long table scheme, benches are a fun way to get guests sociable and chummy.

5. Lighting – If you can get away with it, nothing says autumn like the amber lighting from burning wicks. Large assorted candles placed in vases can act as centerpieces as well as provide soft ambient light. Be careful when going the votive approach, because many smells may not mix well with the foods being served, or they may become bothersome to guests when tolerated for prolonged periods of time. When in doubt, odorless is best. Amber lanterns are also a great way to go fall, with many electric and oil options available on the market. Regardless of what you choose, in the end just make sure to stick with soft and warm light.

6. Food – Food this time of year can be summed up in one word: rich. The cold winter is approaching, so it’s time to fatten up with those delicious and hearty meals that remind us of home. No autumn menu would be complete without at least a few seasonal elements incorporated. Produce like apples, cranberries, pomegranates, persimmon, grapes, fig, corn, pumpkins, and squash are all staples of the season. For meats, slow-cooked and braised beef, lamb, or pork will give your guests that hearty and home-cooked meal feel. This is also the time of year where it’s ok to go a little heavy on the sugar, and a little extra with spices like cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg. Not to mention a time to go a little nutty, with pecans, walnuts, almonds, and pine nuts. For an appetizer try baked brie topped with candied pecans and brown sugar, one of Martha Stewart’s favorites. And of course for dessert, you can’t go wrong with a seasonal apple, pumpkin, or cherry pie.

7. Drinks/Cocktails – Hot toddies, mulled wine, cosmopolitans, and apple cider with spiced rum are all excellent seasonal libations to loosen up your guests. But for those with a sweet tooth, a Baileys caramel appletini or a Baileys chocolatini can really get the party going. For the beer drinker, nothing says fall like a blank and tan, which usually consists of half stout or porter (usually Guinness) and half pale ale (usually Bass). And for the real party people who want to take “Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots!,” Washington apple shots provide that autumn twist with a moderate punch.

8. Favors – When building your swag bags, you want to make sure to leave a gift inside that will give your guests a memorable and lasting impression, especially in regards to corporate or fundraising events. Edibles like caramel apples, chocolates, candied nuts, or apple butter jars are delicious reminders of the event that they can enjoy afterwards. Non-edibles like scented candles, scented soaps, and wine stoppers are items with prolonged usage, leaving constant reminders to your guests of the wonderful event they attended, and of course the person or company responsible.

9. Entertainment – Duh! Zen Arts! Whether you need our entire entourage of acrobats, fire dancers, and contortionists for a large scale corporate event, or simply 2 or 3 dancers for a small intimate affair, a Zen Arts performance will surely heat up even the chilliest gatherings. Nothing says holiday like a few burning pois and some hot bodies behind them! Tis the season to go Zen, so call 855-ZEN-ARTS or email to book your holiday event today!