Summer, we hardly knew ye. Now autumn is upon us, as today is officially the first day of fall. In the movie biz, that means we’re gearing up for awards season and have lots of Oscar contenders hitting theaters in the weeks ahead. At home, the start of fall means that the kids are back into the full swing of their school routine, cooler-weather wardrobes are emerging, Halloween decorations are springing up everywhere, and — on the entertainment front — most summer blockbusters have made their way to the Box or Redbox on Demand.

So how best to bid adieu to summertime and usher in the changing of the seasons? With a fall kickoff party, of course! You can plan an evening with friends and/or family that celebrates the end of humid weather and the beginning of the leaves changing color. Think cozy, warm and comfy. Fall is a time to recover from summer vacations and enjoy a little R&R before holiday craziness kicks into full gear.

 

Here’s how to make a fall kickoff party extra special:

Stick to a color theme: It’s all about oranges, reds, browns, deep greens and yellows. Basically whatever colors you might find outside on leaves. Your decorations (balloons, cut-out leaves, table runners, streamers) and your guests’ outfits should all be somewhere in that color scheme to really help set the mood.

Pumpkin everything: Pumpkins used to be almost solely associated with Halloween. If you hadn’t noticed, that is no longer the case. Now, “pumpkin” (or, more accurately, “pumpkin spice”) precedes just above every kind of edible treat and drink you can imagine once September hits. Why fight the trend? Embrace it with pumpkin donuts, cookies, bagels, cream cheese, soda, ice cream, and anything else you can find or dream up.

You could also buy little mini pumpkins (real and plastic) as well as different kinds of colorful gourds to set around for decorations. Also consider carving out the bottom half of a large pumpkin, filling it with ice and serving water, pop or adult beverages out of it. In fact, you could carve out the bottom half of several pumpkins, place glass bowls in them and serve popcorn or other treats out of them.

Embrace the outdoors, or bring it inside: Gather or buy pinecones, leaves and acorns to use either for decorations or games (acorn toss? pinecone decorating? leaf masks?). If you actually do have a bonfire pit at your place, great — put it to use! But if you don’t, it’s still really easy to make campfire treats like s’mores and hot chocolate in the comfort of your own kitchen. Chili is another popular option, as are caramel apples. You likely do NOT have bunches of hay lying around or live in close proximity to a cornfield, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still create a “corn maze” in your yard out of garbage pails and large boxes. (Remember that if younger kids are involved, it truly doesn’t take much to entertain them!) Gunny or potato-sack races are another timeless fall activity.

A fall-friendly movie pick (or not): To wind down the night, you can gather everyone to watch a movie together while they sip their cider or finish off the donuts. Some classics that came to mind that are set in the fall include October Sky, Fantastic Mr. Fox, When Harry Met Sally, Good Will Hunting, Rudy and You’ve Got Mail. But you really could watch anything you’d like — the goal is simply to have a great time with your loved ones or closest friends.

If you’ve been reading this site for any length of time you know that I am definitely a summer person. So I can’t lie and pretend like I’m not sad that those more carefree days and warmer temps are coming to an end. But there’s a lot to love about fall, too — especially if it gives me a reason to throw a fun party. I hope you feel the same way!