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Pro Tips to Throw the Sweetest Fall Dessert Party + an Irresistible Pumpkin Spice Treat

Everyone will enjoy sampling autumn’s best flavors in this sweet, seasonal setting

Welcoming guests to a seasonal dessert tasting is a deliciously fun way to celebrate autumn and spend time with your nearest and dearest! With flavors like apple, pumpkin, cinnamon and vanilla, guests are sure to swoon! They’ll also love the tasty treats, like mini crocks of apple crisp and pumpkin spice trifles, on-theme signature cocktails and festive decor. The best part? Setting up a stylish fall dessert party is surprisingly simple. Keep reading for the clever how-to’s!

“The best part about this time of year just might be all the flavors of fall,” shares party and event pro Dannyelle Nicolle-Ramjist, founder of Life Is A Party blog. “And this dessert table brings lots of fall desserts together. It’s full of easy homemade, semi-homemade, and delicious store-bought treats. Guests love having the option to try lots of small desserts — there’s a little bit of everything!”

To get the look of Dannyelle’s fall dessert party (above), start by using Washi tape to affix craft-store autumn leaves to a blank wall, then push a table up to the wall. Next, top the table with a wooden shelf and various cake plates and trays filled with your array of baked goods and treats. Finish the display by adding pumpkins (real or faux) in different sizes. For added visual interest, mix metallic gourds with regular pumpkins and tie craft-store decorative tassels to pumpkins.

Delight guests with a sweet autumn sangria

Dessert party: autumn sangria served in glasses and garnished with apples and mint

Infused with the crisp flavors of apple cider and pomegranate, this autumnal take on sangria will become your favorite seasonal sip! Just fill a pitcher with two thinly sliced apples, 1⁄4 cup of pomegranate seeds, 1 sliced orange, 4 figs (cut into quarters), 1⁄2 cup of cognac, 2 cups of apple cider and 1 bottle of dry white wine; chill. To serve, dip rims of glasses into a saucer filled with maple syrup, then cinnamon sugar. Fill each with ice and sangria; garnish with mint. (For more fall cocktail ideas, check out these pumpkin spice drink recipes from our sister site!)

Brighten plates with autumn ‘corsage’ settings

Dessert party: Autumn place setting on tabletop for dessert party
Liliboas / GettyImages

Greet guests with harvest-inspired place settings that echo the rich hues of autumn. To do: For each setting, stack two slate-blue plates. Then simply roll an autumn-hued plaid dinner napkin and cinch in the middle with a length of ribbon. Next, thread a few small, clean fall leaves onto a snippet of floral wire then affix two or three small acorns to the leaves with hot glue; let dry. Once dry, twist both ends of the floral wire snippet — which now looks like a cute corsage — around the ribbon. Place napkin atop plate.

Make sampling simple with tasty bite-sized fare

Dessert party: Mini bite-sized treats including apple crisp crocks and pumpkin rice crispy treats on servers
Dannyelle Nicolle-Ramjist

At her party, Nicolle-Ramjist served individual apple crisp crocks. For a similar treat, spoon warmed apple pie filling into bowls and top with crumbled oatmeal cookies. To make pumpkin-spice cereal treats, melt 3 Tbs. of butter, 2 Tbs. of pumpkin puree and 16 oz. of marshmallows in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat; stir in 1 tsp. each of vanilla and pumpkin pie spice and 6 cups of crisped rice cereal. Press into a greased baking pan, cut into triangles, drizzle with melted white chocolate.

Boost the beauty with a seasonal still-life

Dessert party: Autumn decor on the table with golden leaves and pumpkins vignette
Julia Klueva / GettyImages

Add a splash of seasonal charm and bright color to a neutral countertop or buffet table with a fall vignette. To do: Start by placing a metallic tray atop a woven charger. Then place a couple of real (or faux!) pumpkins onto the tray and place a pair of votive candles onto the tray. Complete the look by filling a rustic kitchen crock or pitcher halfway with water, then inserting a handful of fresh-cut fall flowers (a simple supermarket bouquet works well for this!) and dried leaves.

Wow everyone with spiced pumpkin parfaits

Dessert party: spiced fall pumpkin parfaits on wooden tray

Parfaits are a host’s best-kept secret for making a delicious dessert in a flash. For tasty pumpkin parfaits, mix up a box of vanilla pudding according to package instructions, then stir in 1 oz. of brandy (optional) and 1⁄2 tsp. of cinnamon. Spoon pudding into the bottom of a cocktail glass, then top with pumpkin pie filling and crumbled oatmeal cookies. Garnish with a star anise and a cinnamon stick.

Pretty up a pumpkin pie in no time

Dessert party: Autumnal pumpkin pie on wooden table

An artful leafy crust turns a simple pumpkin pie into a special treat. To get the look, bake a pumpkin pie and let cool (or pick up a store-bought pumpkin pie). Next, roll out ready-made piecrust dough and press with leaf-shaped cookie cutters (Buy from Amazon, $9 for 4). Place dough leaves on a lightly greased baking sheet, brush each with a beaten egg and bake for about 8 minutes at 375°F or until golden; arrange on center of pie.

Swap favorite recipes as special take-home mementos

To prepare for holiday baking season is around the corner, consider trading dessert recipes! Ahead of your party, ask each guest to text or email two of their go-to fall treat recipes to you. Print copies of each recipe on printer paper and compile into dollar-store photo albums or binders, then hand one to each guest as a sweet memento of the day.

Serve gourmet local flavors with a fall-inspired display

Dessert party: Fall vignette that shows a wooden tray displaying maple fudge and a jar of maple syrup

“When you think of this season, you can’t help but think about the fall leaves turning colors and nothing puts on a better fall show than the maple trees,” says Nicolle-Ramjist. “So it’s the perfect time to include a maple dessert as an addition to the fall dessert table.” She suggests picking up some of your store-bought favorites (like maple donuts, cookies and the like) and weaving them into your dessert display. This not only showcases your local shops and their specialties, but it sparks conversation among guests — and it’s less work on you! “I picked maple fudge. I also love the idea of mixing in some homemade with some store-bought to make life a little bit easier.” To do: Place your store-bought fudge pieces or treat on a wooden trivet or tray; place on table and surround with faux autumn leaves and a decorative jar of maple syrup to complete the dessert vignette.

Pack up extras perfectly with this savvy idea

Bakery-style boxes make it easy for guests to pack up any leftovers to bring home. And cardboard boxes with clear tops (Buy from Amazon, $15 for 9) give a glimpse of the tasty treats inside. For a thoughtful touch, set empty boxes on your treat table and top each with a dollar-store spatula and cookie cutter as a fun take-home favor.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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