I love to take advantage of the last little bits of fall and enjoy a beautiful meal outside. The leaves set the most spectacular scene for dinner in my backyard, and the waiters were serving delicious food and cozy blankets to keep everyone warm from the inside out!

Weather in late fall can be unpredictable, so while I waited until the last minute to decide if the event would take place inside or out, I carefully planned every other detail. Before any party, I do a military-general-style walk-through, from a guest’s vantage point. I start with their entrance, finish with their exit, and I hit everything in between.

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AUTHENTIC COMFORT MEAL

AUTHENTIC COMFORT MEAL

The week before the event, I mapped out table configurations using newspaper cutouts to scale, and I tried a few different options. It’s best to stare down logistical issues in advance, like ensuring the caterers will have enough room to circulate. It’s certainly easier to prevent a catastrophe than to correct one mid-party.

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AUTHENTIC COMFORT MEAL

AUTHENTIC COMFORT MEAL

Once Mother Nature gave the thumbs-up, I used several small tables to create two long, narrow tables covered with table cloths made from fabric leftover from a decorating project. Two dramatically lit dwarf Japanese lace leaf maples created a sculptural focal point, taking full advantage of what nature provided for a backdrop.

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Even the julep cups filled with chocolate-brown cosmos matched the rich, autumnal color scheme.

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My favorite caterer, Dennis Dean, used my own recipes to craft a menu of delicious comfort food. It was practically a home-cooked meal, and I could rest easy knowing it was a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Butternut squash shooters
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Walnut Crostini with Blue cheese, Asian pear, and fig vin cotto
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Roast chicken with risotto and mushroom fricassee
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Fried Apple Pie w cinnamon ice cream
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AUTHENTIC COMFORT MEAL

AUTHENTIC COMFORT MEAL

When entertaining, keeping in mind my guests’ comfort is key. Thoughtful details such as standing heaters placed near the tables and piles of blankets passed by servers kept everyone warm and toasty.

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AUTHENTIC COMFORT MEAL

AUTHENTIC COMFORT MEAL

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