What comes to mind when you hear the words “fall party”?
Perhaps you think of fall activities like apple picking, hayrides, and watching football. For many, the cooler season brings musings of bonfires, comfort foods, cozy decorations, and gathering together with family and friends.
Today I want to share how you can incorporate all your favorite aspects of the season into a fall party—chili bar style! From A to Z, we’ll cover activities, beverages, chili recipes (of course), chili toppings, decor, desserts, and more!
Post updated 10/2022 for clarity and readability. Post contains affiliate links which means our site may make a small commission from sales at no additional cost to the consumer.
Activities For Your Fall Party & Chili Bar
First things first: during the party, what are you and your guests going to do? Of course, socializing is always the main focus at an event, but it is nice to have some different activities in mind to help encourage the fun! Here are some festive fall ideas:
Make a bonfire!
Even if you don’t have a big yard, you can purchase a small fire pit table to keep everything nicely contained. Or, create your own more permanent pit with a shovel, dirt, and some rocks. Once it gets dark, gather everyone around to tell campfire stories or sing songs.
Helpful Hint: Don’t forget to grab a s’mores roasting kit and extra firewood!
Play some games.
Our families and friends love the games by the makers of Exploding Kittens. They are easy to learn, unique, and so enjoyable—your cheeks will hurt from laughing so hard! Poetry for Neanderthals and Throw Throw Burrito are can’t-miss games.
Or, keep it simple! Round up a few decks of cards and get everyone in on a lighthearted game of Slapjack or Spades. Apples to Apples, Pictionary, and Charades always ensure laughter among all in attendance. Plus, they are very conducive to large, difficult-to-organize groups. Set out a stack of games before the party starts to encourage your guests to play.
Pro Host Tip: Place a card table behind or near the couch to double as extra seating during the big game moments and keep everyone together!
Cuddle up around the TV.
My hubby and his friends love to watch football. However, my girlfriends and I enjoy binging on old 90’s movies. Either way, once you decide on what to watch, just keep the volume to a comfortable level to ensure the conversation is not hindered!
Try a friendly game of football…
…if your friends are up for an active afternoon! Organize everyone into evenly matched groups and get competitive! For a mixed-gender group, try a friendly game of two-hand-touch with flags (instead of tackling).
Organize an autumn-themed scavenger hunt.
Before the guests arrive, hide fall-themed items around your house or yard. Try faux acorns, mini pumpkins, or apples!
Then, when you feel a lull in the excitement during your fall party, announce to everyone that you’ve hidden the mystery items—whoever finds the most wins a prize! To add some difficulty, wait until the sun sets and use small flashlights (or turn off the lights inside!)
Beverages For Your Chili Bar Party
Instead of serving everyone their drinks from the refrigerator, set up a convenient, customizable beverage bar! That way, guests can serve themselves as the party continues and you can spend more time socializing!
Here are some suggestions for what you’ll need to get started:
- Long foyer table, buffet, designated counter space, or mobile bar cart.
- Elegant fall-themed table runner or tablecloth
- Bar toolset including the following items: corkscrew, bottle opener, bar spoon, knife, muddler, jigger, and some sort of container to hold and keep them organized (try a mason jar if your bar set doesn’t come pre-contained)
- Cocktail shaker
- Ice and ice bucket—or, use a heavy-duty bowl
- Water pitcher/cooler
- Pitcher of non-alcoholic beverage like cider or iced tea
- Pitcher of sangria (I prefer this Caramel Apple Sangria)
- One clear soda (tonic water, Sprite, etc.)
- One dark soda (Coca-Cola, Pepsi, etc.)
- Alcohol of your preference to make cocktails and mixed drinks
- Cocktail glasses
Functional Decor Tip: Add a cute vase for a fun way to collect bottle caps or pop tabs!
Cuisine For Your Fall Party & Chili Bar
Appetizers and hors d’oeuvres are said to be an important aspect of a meal because they prepare your palate and increase your appetite for the main course. At parties, it’s nice to have something on which guests can munch so that no one gets hangry while the chili cooks!
Try to serve a few items that pair well with chili, but nothing that’s too similar to chili. Here are some great appetizer ideas for a fall party:
- jalapeno poppers
- guacamole with plantain or corn chips
- cheese ball and crackers
- roasted sweet potato wedges
- mini soft pretzel bites and nacho cheese
- salty or spicy Spanish nut mix
- chips and salsa
- raw veggies and dip
Okay, let’s get to the main attraction of your fall party—the chili!
Based on your guest list, you want to tailor your chili options so that everyone can enjoy the meal together. Having said that, don’t try to create a separate chili for each and every guest—you will drive yourself crazy and likely run out of stove space. Choose a favorite recipe or two and start there.
When choosing a chili recipe, take note of the number of servings each batch will produce. If you are making chili with your own recipe, just keep in mind that a serving is typically around one and a half cups.
Here are my favorite chili recipes:
Serving Tip: don’t forget multiple ladles to avoid any cross-contamination—and help the scooping move along more quickly!
Now, we have come to the best part—drum roll, please—the toppings! This is where you can get extra creative and really trust your taste buds. There are so many different types of toppings for chili—the more you offer, the better!
Chili Topping Ideas:
- Sauces to add heat: buffalo, sriracha, tabasco, hot sauce
- Dressing to cool: sour cream, ranch
- Chips: Fritos, Doritos, Goldfish, and “scooper” corn chips
- Cheese: Mexican, cheddar, jack, etc.
- Green and red chopped onions
- Sliced avocado
- Tater Tots
- Cornbread—try cutting it into small, crouton-sized cubes to sprinkle on top of your bowl
- Hot dog slices—like an “inside out” chili dog
- Rice/small noodles
- Shredded lettuce
- Chopped tomatoes
- Bacon (or bacon bits)
- Crumbled sausage
- Corn salsa
- Lime wedges
- Fresh cilantro
- Sliced radishes
- French fries (for chili cheese fries)
Sounds amazing, right? My mouth is watering!! If you can portion the toppings into small, individual bowls, like this set, it’ll add an extra flair to your setup!
Whatever you do, don’t forget dessert! Here are some delicious fall-themed sweets that are sure to go as quickly as you can say “pumpkin pie!”
Fool-Proof Apple Pie—flavorful, tender apple pie filling inside a buttery, flaky, always-perfect pie crust.
Maple Pecan Creme Brulee Eclairs—so tasty, full of fall flavor, and much easier to make than they sound… impress all your guests with these drool-worthy pastries.
Chai-Spiced Pumpkin Hand Pies—Hand pies are perfect party treats, and they’re so cute, too!
Red Velvet Fall Flower Cupcakes—sweet, tangy, and ultra-soft red velvet cupcakes with a delectable cream cheese frosting… you haven’t had Red Velvet ’til you’ve tried these!
Chai-Spiced Shortbread Cookies—soft and crisp cookies with warm, spiced fall flavors.
White-Chocolate Cranberry Walnut Cookies—chewy white chocolate chip cookies full of dried cranberries and crunchy walnuts.
Spiced Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake—warm, spiced chocolate sponge cake stacked with luscious cinnamon pumpkin cream cheese filling and a crunchy graham cracker pie crust layer.
I always like to set out some smaller, bite-sized sweets for grazing as the night goes on. After all, even the non-sweet eaters usually like a little something after dinner.
Gather up some cute, small bowls and fill them with treats like chocolate-covered almonds, yogurt-covered pretzels, M&Ms, sweet trail mix, or mini cookies.
Decor For Your Fall Party and Chili Bar
Get your guests in the autumn mood with these easy, festive fall party decorating ideas!
Fall Decorating Tips
Consider some areas in your home that could use a touch of burlap for a rustic fall vibe. Use a moderately thin piece as a table runner, add a burlap bow to the back of each dining room chair, or think about purchasing a simple burlap tablecloth.
Also, pay attention to replacing smaller items (such as napkins, pot holders, and vases) with fall-themed substitutes. Check out my guide here for budget-friendly fall decorating using decor you already own!
To add some depth to the bow, use a piece of twine about four times as long as you would originally need, and fold it in half twice. Snip the ends, wrap your bow, and admire your cute decor!
Create a Serving Platter Pumpkin
Check out this super easy and cheap DIY to create a pumpkin-based serving platter! Use it for silverware, desserts, rolls, or napkins!
So cute and so unique, all of your friends will be asking where you bought them!
Fall Florals and Fauna
Decorate with yellow daisies, sunflowers, red dahlias, orange mums, or any other fall flowers you have accessible. See my tutorial here to create your own fall faux-flower centerpieces!
Utilize seasonal pumpkins and gourds as cute, yet functional decorations. I love this idea for a pumpkin punch bowl.
Purchase a garland of autumn leaves to string over your front door, mantle, or stairway banister. You can also set up an area against a flat wall to create a fun, fall backdrop, perfect for photo ops!!
Pinecones can be used as great placeholders to mark each guest’s seat! Collect your pinecones, clean them well, and paint the tips gold or silver.
Happy Fall Partying!
I hope this post covered everything that you need to make you feel excited and comfortable in hosting your next fall-themed chili bar party. I can’t wait to hear all about your fantastic festivities!
Don’t forget to find me on Instagram so we can keep in touch, and be sure to tag me in any photos you post of your fall party or decorations! I love to see what you come up with!
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Take care guys! Until next time…
P.P.S – Forgetful like me?
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