Traditional recipes

Host an Outdoor Family Pumpkin-Carving Party

Host an Outdoor Family Pumpkin-Carving Party

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Pumpkin-carving, homemade chili, and hot apple cider set the mood for a fun and casual way to entertain multiple families right in your own backyard, without spending a lot of money. With this fun gathering, you’ll get a lot of bang for the buck and memories to last a lifetime.

First, ask each family to bring the carving tools of their choice, and you’ll provide the rest. Get a large piece of tarp and spread in your backyard. You can find tarp in any hardware store. In the center of the tarp palace a bale of hay — easily found this time of year in outdoor gardening ad supply stores — and surround it with leaves. Place one large pumpkin for each family within the leaves, with a few extra smaller pumpkins for the kids, and just in case the large pumpkin doesn’t turn out as expected. The hay with leaves and pumpkins is the centerpiece to your outdoor, in-the-grass, table. You can even add in a scarecrow and gourds to make the centerpiece more of a conversation for guests to enjoy.

Place old newspapers in sections for the families, around the centerpiece with the pumpkins. This identifies their carving area. Also place some bowls for seeds, as well as pumpkin guts, so it doesn’t get too messy or slippery (although the mess is also part of the fun).

Greet your guests prior to the carving with a pot of hot apple cider and mugs already adorned with cinnamon sticks to set the autumn mood. Supply some flavored popcorn in bowls throughout the centerpiece for munching while carving. After the completion of the pumpkin-carving, and of course voting on which family carved the best pumpkin, enjoy a victory feast. Serve up a nice big pot of homemade chili, complete with sides of shredded cheese, onions, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

For that final touch of a little something sweet, place a mix of cookies and cupcakes, with candy corn scattered about the serving platters.

While your guests are enjoying their dessert, prep your pumpkin seeds for roasting by rinsing them through a strainer. Then, scatter the pumpkin seeds on a nonstick baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 325 for 25 minutes. Once seeds are toasted, remove from oven and fill brown paper bags with seeds to offer as a warm gift the guests can take home and enjoy.

—Mersene Norbom, Conway Confidential

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Choose a Fall Location

One essential ingredient to a festive pumpkin party is choosing an awesome autumnal location to host friends or family. If you have the room and weather permits, host your crew of kids in your backyard. You can even turn your grounds into a mock pumpkin patch just for the occasion, complete with bales of hay, piles of pumpkins, and plenty of fall foliage. Of course, a pumpkin-themed party can be held just as easily indoors, and the right decorations can turn any setting into a colorful, orange wonderland.

If you don't boast a backyard big enough for a group (or just don't want to have people to your home), book space at a pumpkin patch or farm instead. Throughout fall, many seasonal sites will rent out their grounds for events of all types, and they pack the perk of having plenty of party necessities already available to you, like parking, festive activities (think: hayrides, corn mazes, and more), and, of course, plenty of pumpkins.

Boozy Batches

Speaking of booze. we’re all grown up and it’s time to kick it up a notch! Gone are the days where fruit punch and regular ol’ cocoa will get the job done. We’re not throwing any old kiddie party, after all.

My picks for boozing by the blaze? Take inspiration from the season and serve drinks that just feel like fall. Anything with pumpkin, hot cocoa or cinnamon and nutmeg are guaranteed to be crowd pleasers. My personal favorites? Boozy Hot Chocolate, Pumkincellos and Caramel Apple Martinis. Sip by the pit and enjoy that brisk autumn air.

How To Throw the Perfect Pumpkin-Carving Party

Halloween is right around the corner, so there’s no better time than now to host a pumpkin-carving party! Things could get a little messy, so check out our tips for throwing the best Halloween pumpkin carving party in the neighborhood.

Choose Your Carving Location

If you’ve got one, a backyard patio is the ideal setting for your pumpkin party. Lay down newspapers on a patio or card table, making sure to place some small objects at each corner to weigh it down if it’s breezy outside. You can set up a pumpkin carving station in your garage or driveway, as well. You could also host the party at a park or some other outdoor space, but keeping things close to home will make for easier cleanup and bypass the whole transportation issue.

The Materials

Most of these pumpkin-carving materials are easy to get and relatively inexpensive. The actual pumpkin itself could potentially get expensive if you are paying for everyone’s pumpkin, so to keep costs down, ask your guests to bring their own pumpkin.

  • Large pumpkin
  • Newspaper or table cloth
  • Pumpkin carving kits or pumpkin carving tools
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Trash bags

Snacks and Refreshments

It’s a fun idea to offer up a pumpkin or fall-themed dish or snack to serve your guests while they carve. The pumpkin carving activity itself will already take up a lot of space, so consider setting up a separate, smaller table filled with your light pumpkin-themed snacks and drinks. Our favorite autumnal recipes include this savory sage popcorn and fall whiskey sours for the adults.

And if you’ve got a fire pit, outdoor fireplace or heat lamp, now is the time to light it up. Cozy!

Now that you know how to throw the perfect pumpkin carving party, it’s time to get started. Halloween is fast approaching, so invite your guests over and have fun!

75 Best Pumpkin Desserts to End All Your Fall Dinners on a Sweet Note

Make sure you've got enough to go around&mdashnobody will want to share these treats!

Looking for more delicious ways to enjoy pumpkin this autumn? We've got you covered. These easy pumpkin desserts are fun, colorful, and delectable. But best of all, they're all very simple to throw together. From pumpkin cakes to pumpkin pies, we've managed to include just about every sort of pumpkin-flavored dessert under the sun in our list, as well as recipes for pumpkin breads, pumpkin muffins, and pumpkin scones.

Of course, while you could absolutely enjoy any of the sweet treats on our list solo, they're best shared with friends. And besides, what better excuse to show off your fall baking than to host a fall dinner party? If you're looking for an even more elaborate occasion on which to showcase your baking adventures, Thanksgiving's a pretty great option, or you can simply add one of your pumpkin creations to the table of Halloween treats at your annual Halloween party.

Sugar on your mind? Ours too&mdashalways!&mdashbut as with any day of baking, you'll want to take care not to forget the savory stuff too. Fall appetizers and seasonal cocktails are an excellent way to celebrate the season before indulging in one of these decadent confections, and you always whip up a fresh plate of pumpkin pasta, a steaming bowl of pumpkin soup, or even a healthy pumpkin dish too.

Be warned, though: Once you start scrolling through these fantastic recipes, you'll want to make everything ASAP. They're truly to pie for!

How to Host An Awesome Pumpkin Carving Party for Kids

Every year, we look forward to our annual trip to the pumpkin patch. It’s so much fun to go with our friends and enjoy rides, the petting zoo and take lots of pictures. After we’ve picked our pumpkins, of course we have to have a carving party!

Oriental Trading Company provided me with Pumpkin Carving Party kits the table layout, recipes and party ideas are my own.

What You’ll Need:

  • Halloween Plates
  • Halloween Napkins
  • Halloween Cups (we used mint green for a cool contrast)
  • Halloween Treat Pails
  • Gummy Eyeball Candies
  • Candy Corn
  • Halloween treats, like cupcakes and cookies
  • Pumpkins, cleaned out and ready to carve
  • Mummy Dog Recipe
  • Apple Cider

Setting up the Table

For a pumpkin carving party, you’ll need a festive Halloween setup with lots of cute decorations, but don’t forget to protect your surface from all those pumpkin cuttings! We rolled out plastic tablecloth roll, in mint green, across our table, and taped underneath to secure it. Then we added cute Halloween plates, napkins and cups with Black and White Paper Straws to each place setting, along with a cute little molded treat pail filled with candy corn. We scattered some fun and spooky gummy eyeball candy across the table, too!

In the center of the table, Halloween cupcakes and cookies were piled high on a pretty glass cake stand, and topped with plastic skeletons. On each side, a faux pumpkin was placed, then we added the Pumpkin Carving Party Kits.

Tasty Treats and Drinks

I made up these fun and easy Mummy Dogs, using hot dogs and crescent roll dough. A bottle of apple cider was poured into a glass pitcher, and labeled “Apple Spider” using a Bistro Chalk Marker in White. It wipes away easily after the party’s over.

Carving Basics

The Pumpkin Carving Party Kits are fantastic for this event they have all the tools and supplies we needed to make some amazing pumpkin creations! Each kit comes with stencils, scoopers for emptying the seeds and gunk from the gourds, several sizes of kid-safe pumpkin cutters, and even tools to trace the designs by poking tiny guidelines into the pumpkins.

The kids picked up on how to create their masterpiece pumpkins very easily. For those who wanted to freestyle their designs, the Bistro Chalk Marker in White is the perfect writing utensil for the job. These are much better than black markers, in my opinion, since the extra lines just wipe away with a damp paper towel.

A Game to Entertain the Senses

We played a game I like to call “Grossology” I’m sure you’ve played some version of this before. I filled six plastic bowls with different food items designed to “feel” disgusting to the touch, then placed them under a cardboard box. I cut little doors for each item and labeled them with their gory game names, so that each child could reach in without seeing what they’d be touching.

Grapes mixed with hand lotion were called “Eyeballs”, and a piece of room temperature roast beef was labeled, “Skin”. Other gross items were shelled soybean “Beetles”, and macaroni noodle “Brains”. The girls had so much fun getting disgusted with all the touchy-feely items.

A Costume Fashion Show

Our guests were invited to wear a costume for the party so after the treats, carving and game, we had a Halloween Fashion Show! Each girl took turns walking the runway while we described their awesome costumes and accessories. They really got into the fun!

In attendance were a Nerd, a Ninja Warrior, a Snow White princess, an Elsa princess, a Luna Girl Villain, and a little Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.

These special friends had the best time ever at their Halloween Party for kids. Will you host a Pumpkin Carving Party this year? We’d love to hear some of your favorite traditions for the season!

75 Easy, Delicious Family Dinner Ideas For Any Day of the Week

Any of these quick dinner ideas are perfect for your family meal tonight.

There&rsquos nothing better than a home-cooked meal. These uncomplicated family dinner ideas will please everyone. From cozy casseroles to veggie-filled healthy soup and stews and easy pasta recipes, you&rsquoll have endless delicious quick dinner ideas to choose from night after night, whether you have all day to prep or just minutes. If you're on the hunt for hearty ideas to add to your menu, these deliciously cheap and easy dinner recipes are both impressive and flavorful, and they will certainly make the whole crew happy.

Liven up staples like chicken and linguine with a creamy tangy sauce of cream cheese and lemon.

45 Summer Dinner Ideas That Make the Most of the Season's Bounty

Fresh produce and alfresco dining? We love this time of year.

Rejoice, fresh food lovers, because summer is upon us! Tis the season of fresh berries, even fresher veggies, and of course tomatoes and zucchini galore! It's time to eat outside, to cook outside, and to basically spend as much time outside in every way possible. To make the most of the season, we've rounded up some of our most favorite summer dinner ideas, ideal for enjoying on a back porch with a pitcher of sweet tea or a chilled glass of rosé. Whether it's some stellar grilling recipes you're after or dishes for using up your fresh summer produce, you'll find everything you need in this list. And if you'd rather avoid the oven or stove on scorching days, there are several recipes that use the grill or can be whipped up without any heating like some delicious summer salads.

For dinners that can feed a crew, check out the Worcestershire-glazed burgers, grilled sausages, or grilled Margherita pizza. If you have a large back porch, you probably host a fair amount of summer dinners, meaning you're likely to be in the market for some summer side dishes as well. Look to the cast iron beans, Parmesan tots, or cauliflower mac-and-cheese for sides that will fill a crowd up. Don't forget a refreshing batch of summer cocktails that will put anyone in a good mood after a hot day. Your dinner guests will be pleasantly surprised with these delicious summer dinner ideas that are anything but boring.

How to design your outdoor space for a socially distanced summer

Since there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the wide variety of outdoor spaces, when you’re looking at preparing your space for a socially distanced summer, start with identifying your priorities, Shaw said.

1. Figure out what's important to you

Do you want to cook, garden or just host drinks and conversation with friends? Identify your “scope of work” based on those priorities, Shaw said, and if you can’t do them all, choose the most important. For us it was adding a firepit in order to have a focal point — and natural barrier — for a seating area where we can have cocktails with friends.


Health & Wellness How to talk to people who aren't social distancing — and get them to listen

2. Do your research

Now, hit the internet. Comb Pinterest and Instagram with specific searches “courtyard with black fence ideas” helps narrow down a search a lot more than a generic “backyard ideas” search, and let the results lead you down the rabbit hole of inspiration.

Yes, what we crave is a more normal existence but we are not there yet. And the big goal here is to not get sick.

Paul E. Turner, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University

3. Sketch it out on paper

Once you have some ideas, you’ll want to sit down with pencil and paper, Shaw said. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an artist here. “Just do a little sketch of your space,” she said, “and create bubble diagrams.” Just draw rough circles or shapes to show where you might put a grill or dining table, for example, or garden or fire pit. The idea is to lay things out and try it again and again, she said. “The first one is very likely not going to be the right one, but it's a way to take your thoughts and put them onto paper so they can start to become reality.”

Especially if you’re limited on space, when it comes to seating and furniture, look for flexible, multifunctional options that are easy to move, Shaw said. So think double duty for dining seats that can also serve as comfortable lounge chairs that let you go from family meals to backyard socially-distanced soirees. For tables, look for versatile pieces that can serve as outdoor desk, dining table, or side table.

4. Consider shade

If you’ve moved your seating apart, there may be newly exposed areas. While there are “oodles” of interesting umbrellas in a variety of shapes and sizes, Shaw said, an option she likes is a pergola. This open frame with beams across the top can serve as a structure for plants to grow along, or you can hang a sail shade and fairy lights for even more atmosphere. Big box stores and online retailers sell kits, or the handy and industrious among us may even tackle the project as a DIY. Stringing a sail cloth can be a relatively inexpensive option as well.

At the end of the day though, we’re all just so grateful to see each other that what it looks like isn’t the most important thing. Staying safe, and being together is what counts. Nobody really cares if your cushions have seen better days, or if you have to set up a fan in the yard because you lack shade.

Dana McMahan is a Louisville based freelancer who writes about food, bourbon, travel and home for several national outlets. Also a serial renovator and a whiskey enthusiast, she shares lots of food, drink, home (and dog) stories on Instagram.


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