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fall forward how to host a fall dinner party
by Yee-Fan Sun
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continued from page 2

drink up
Donít just stop with the food when it comes to embracing the autumn theme: serve up a special libation for the evening as well, with fall flavors as your inspiration. Mix up a batch of apple martinis or cran-tastic cosmos for an evening of swanky sipping. Alternatively, darker liquors in rich golden amber hues warm the soul and leave a toasty glow in your throat. Serve up whisky-based classics like Manhattans or old-fashioneds. Up the cozy factor even more with a hot cocktail -- a hot toddy or buttered rum makes a fab accompaniment to a crisp autumn night.

For those who prefer their beverages sans alcohol, no problem: just get your hands on some good fresh cider. Serve it cold and straight-up simple, or make a hot spiced cider. Either way, itís a divinely delicious drink that just smacks of fall.

décor details
No, Iím not going to tell you how to craft your own fall wreaths from branches you picked yourself, or suggest any of those other oh-so-charming and ridiculously time-consuming crafts that womenís magazines like to feature this time of year. Personally, I donít have time for elaborate handmade décor to go with every dinner party, and when it comes time to have folks over, Iíd rather spend my time and energy on the food and drink anyway. Still, a few simple aesthetic touches can go a long way towards making your party seem like something a little nicer than just an ordinary meal chez vous.

When youíre out shopping for ingredients, keep an eye out for seasonal produce that might make for a nice table topper. Autumn is gourd season, and at any decent market, youíre likely to find a plethora of beautiful gourds that are redolent of fall goodness. The lumpy-bumpy extravagantly colored ornamental ones are very nice; if youíd rather have something functional, though, winter squashes like acorn and butternut are both lovely to look at, and can be turned into a tasty meal later on down the line to boot. Me, Iím a complete and total sucker for mini pumpkins, which are oh-so-adorable and totally inexpensive too. Meanwhile, apples and pears in glorious green-red-gold hues are another option. Fill glass bowls or vases with plump apples or pears, stack a pile of pretty mini pumpkins or a few funky gourds on a plate and voila, a no-fuss centerpiece for your dinner or coffee table. Add a few strategically placed candles and youíll have autumn ambience galore -- the perfect backdrop for a gorgeous fall evening spent with good food, good drink, and good friends.


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