(BPT) - Whether an afternoon tailgating before the big game or a fun-filled evening under the dazzling autumn stars, the forecast for this season's entertaining is trending toward cozy, comfortable and outdoors.
"I think the big lifestyle shift right now is toward eating out less and entertaining more at home, and autumn is the perfect season for taking your get-togethers outside," says Keith Winkler, marketing manager for dinnerware giant Replacements, Ltd. "Think about it - the temperatures are cooling down following our record breaking summer heat. You can have more people at outdoor gatherings than you can generally fit in your home. Plus, there's more flexibility because you can easily have one or more set ups, whether that means setting up tables for dinner or having canapÃ©s and finger foods around a fire pit."
Fall is a great season for ditching the paper and plastic and taking your dinnerware outdoors. Tableware industry experts say there are many positives to introducing your "good stuff" to Mother Nature. It won't blow away like paper plates, and it's far more environmentally friendly than Styrofoam.
Mix it up
While serving finger foods on small plates is extremely popular and encourages your guests to mingle, there's a definite return toward the comfort and connection of a sit down meal. To set the perfect fall table, designers encourage mixing and matching patterns to reflect your distinctive style.
"I generally start with a pattern that sets the tone for the evening, one that reflects what I'm feeling for this particular gathering," says Replacements' designer Julie Robbins. "Whether that's a cute salad plate that's going to sit atop the dinner plate, or a fun color I want as my main design element or theme. I then add pieces that either draw out that feeling or ground the place setting to give me the ambiance I want for my entire table."
Robbins says that may mean pairing a current fall favorite, such as a dinner plate in Woodland by Spode, with vintage American amber glass from the 1940s. She also mixes different pieces. For example, adding a hued glass accent salad plate creates another layer of dimension, while a bright goblet can infuse a much needed pop of seasonal color.
Light up your evenings
There's really no need to go heavy on the decorations for fall outdoor entertaining. Bright leaves, pumpkins, seasonal berries and other naturals create the perfect autumn decor. Experts say you don't need a floral centerpiece if you have nature all around you. Instead, use candles to light up your evenings.
"It's time to upgrade from the Mason jar look by mixing glassware and candles," says Robbins. "Lighting can truly set the mood for your gathering, which is why I'm big on creating an eclectic grouping down the middle of my table by mixing glass and metal candlesticks with hurricanes, clear decanters and other pieces I can use to hold candles. If you don't think you have enough pieces, old tumblers make great votive cups, while you can also turn wine glasses and goblets upside down and place candles on the inverted base. This is beautiful for daytime entertaining, and when lit, creates a simple, warm feeling on those nights when you're just starting to feel a nip in the air."
Looking for more fall inspiration? Robbins and team suggest checking out Replacements' website at www.replacements.com.
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