I fully believe you can make anything into a party. Now that fall is here, why not throw a party around a visit to a pumpkin patch? It’s a casual, easy event to plan and host: Just pick a weekend afternoon and invite a handful of friends or families–keep the guest list small, so it’s not stressful coordinating rides to and from the patch.
If you can, scout the farm beforehand for hayrides, corn mazes, bounce houses, or other fun onsite activities. (You may even score a group rate for your crew.) While you’re there, pick up some party supplies: mini pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, and mums for party décor, and bales of hay and bunches of corn stalks to decorate your entrance and to set up a fun photo spot at the party. You can also stock up on cider (don’t worry–it’ll keep unopened).
Pull together pumpkin-carving supplies and prizes for a pumpkin contest at your place. There are awesome ready-made carving kits, or you can create your own. Get creative with googly eyes, feathers, pom poms, glitter glue, sharpies, hats…and gear to scoop your pumpkins (ice cream scoops and melon ballers are great for this).
On the Menu
You’ll want to keep it simple for this one so you can focus on carving pumpkins when you get back from the farm. For your main dish go for a dish that’s make-ahead, warm, and crowd-pleasing, like a simple chili or my recipe for Beer Braised Pulled Pork Tacos. Prep all the fixings in advance in small serving bowls ready to pull out of the fridge.
For some sweet treats, you can easily pick up lots of goodies while you’re all at the farm; think cider donuts, mini pies, pumpkin bread, and cookies. Or try my recipes for Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes.
For Drinks? Serve the cider as-is, or funk it up with some mulling spices or rum to serve warm. (Leave some unspiked for the little ones or designated drivers). Pumpkin ale and hard cider would be fun, seasonal, and pair well with this menu; be sure to offer plain beer and sodas as well. Set this all up in coolers or a large tub before you leave for the patch. If you like you can also pack a cooler of drinks to bring with you for post-pumpkin picking.
It’s also a great idea to set up a spot for coffee, cocoa, and tea to warm chilly hands.
Let the Fun Begin!
While at the farm, set a time to meet back at the parking lot and send everyone out to pick their pumpkins and enjoy the farm–don’t stress about keeping the whole party together. If there’s a picnic spot at the farm you can regroup there to enjoy some treats and cider before heading back to your house for food, drinks, and pumpkin carving fun.
Then head home for a pumpkin-decorating contest Set up a Pumpkin Decorating Contest! Awards can be offered for: pumpkin that most resembles carver, scariest, funniest, cutest, most elaborate. Let everyone vote or elect a non-carver judge.
My fav pumpkin carving trick? Use the gnarly stem as your Jack ‘o Lantern’s nose and carve a face around it to give your guy some personality!
If you’re hosting Little Pumpkin Patchers you can do a quick game of “Pin the Nose on the Jack o’ lantern.” Most card or craft stores have large wall hanging pumpkins to use –give each kid a black triangle with their name written on it.
Is your party more of a Grown-Up Pumpkin Patchers thing? Trust me, you can make a drinking game out of just about any themed movie. Play The Nightmare Before Christmas and drink when they say “Jack” or have everyone bet on how many times they say “Great Pumpkin” in the iconic Charlie Brown special.
Before everyone heads home, don’t forget to snap a pic of each guest with their beautifully decorated pumpkin at your Photo Station. Text or email the picture to say “thanks for coming” and remember, no matter what the season or really any reason; there’s always a way to Make it a Party!