Thursday, September 17, 2009

Porch Party

The first official day of fall will arrive Wednesday. Do you have anything special planned for marking the change of the seasons?

When the boys were younger we developed the traditon of a "fall porch party" to usher in the charms of autumn. I am sharing it with you today to give you ample time to plan a party of your own. We learned that it was best to allow a few days for preparations.

First, we made sure that the porch was comfortable and cheery. We swept it clean and decorated a bit. Many times, a potted mum given by a grandmother could sit strategically beside a chair. A vase of wildflowers complimented it. We had a few knick-knacks we pulled out each year. A lantern in which we placed a candle, some ceramic pumpkins, and a table cloth. Additonal lighting was sometimes needed, and we arranged for that. We were very creative in dressing up windows and window sills. We picked up inexpensive decorative gourds at a farmer's market to complete the tableau.

Next, we arranged for the food. Really, what we did depended on how much time we had and the age of all the participants. Yearly staples included apple cider, popcorn, cinnamon graham crackers with apple butter, little sandwiches, candy corn, and at least one dessert. When we had more time, we made sugar cookies in the shapes of leaves, pumpkins, and squirrels and decorated them in fall colors. One fall, we made blonde and chocolate brownies. Occasionally, we had a spice cake or spice muffins. In busier times, I just bought a dessert at the bakery or grocery store.

When the big day came, we set the music box on the porch for atmosphere. Balloons and streamers were sometimes added for effect. We had fun activities we did together: blowing bubbles, playing cards, playing charades, an easy art or craft project, a read-aloud story. We chased the last of the fireflies and put them in jars. We gazed at the stars and named the constellations. It was especially thrilling when there was a large, harvest moon. The celebrations started after school, usually around 4:00 and went on until bedtime. When Dad came home, he joined the fun. We did this every year until our oldest son entered high school. At that point, the boys had moved on to other events with their peers and busy fall sports schedules.

Although my kids have dropped the tradition, I've carried on with a special celebration of my own near the autumn equinox. After all those years of celebrations, the first day of fall feels like it must be a birthday. I like to take time to savor the beauty around me and to give thanks.

Does your family have any fall traditions?


  1. A long tradition died out with the passing of my husband's grandfather. His father however revived the family apple butter boil several years ago. It happens every 2 years. We "snitz" the apples on a Friday evening which later then go into the large copper kettle over an outdoor fire when the night is still cool with darkness. Our middle son volunteered at age 8 to prepare the early morning breakfast for the kettle crew, so that has become our special contribution over the years. He prepares sausage links, pancakes and scrambled eggs. Basic fare.
    ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~
    I love your fall celebration ideas. Fall is my favorite season. It is prime. I'm sorry that our children are nearly too old, but I am inspired to capture the moments we do have left. They LOVE having something special to follow-up their school work each day. Even our high school guy. This could be a grand thing. Smile.

  2. Ah, homemade apple butter! Wonderful!


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