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With the onset of autumn comes a change not only in the season but also in event planning and design.

Whether your fall months are filled with corporate functions, weddings or your grandmother’s 95th birthday party, it’s good to make sure you’re in the know about fall trends in catering, styling, and decor.

Events during the last months of summer are typically embellished with decor and food in hot hues such as reds, yellows, and oranges. These colors can be found in table linens, floral designs and in catering options. You can probably picture light-colored linens topped with floral arrangements including yellow and orange blooms. Pops of the same colors are also found on your menu: grilled tomatoes, flank steak, and creamed corn.

But a fall-styled event needs to have another color palette to really make a punch.

Warm, not hot, hues are the trend this year. Berry tones, or jewel tones, are a popular color palette in the autumn season. You might decorate your fall event with deep purple hues, fuchsia pinks, pops of orange and touches of blue or green to create this warming palette. On the menu, you might find glasses of cabernet, grilled asparagus or brussels sprouts, and slices of berry pie.

But another trending factor for your fall events can be found in catering: how menus are presented to event attendees.

In this post, we’ll describe catering trends for fall that you should take into consideration when planning your event’s fall menu.

Comfort Food

When the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter, we all desire the warming effect that comfort food has to offer. But we don’t always need the calories that come along with most comfort food menu items.

One thing you can do to include a comfort food element in your menu selection is to introduce a combination of root vegetables with savory sauces. Root vegetables can be a healthy alternative to a typically high-calorie autumn menu staples such as macaroni and cheese.

Instead, try small servings of roasted root vegetables with a balsamic glaze. Sweet potatoes, garlic, onions, carrots, and turnips make a great-tasting, hearty combination of healthier alternatives to cheesy noodles. Top them with a balsamic reduction, a crack of black pepper, and a shaving of parmesan and serve them warm for an equally satisfying side.

A chili station or even a vegetarian chili station can be another great comfort food for your catered event this fall. Chili served in small cups or jars with a touch of sour cream – or even a vegan sour cream for the lactose intolerant guest – and a sprinkling of chives make another great comfort food option.

Vegetarian or Vegan Options

Speaking of vegetables, try incorporating vegetarian or vegan options at your autumn event this year. More and more people – and especially in the Denver area – are leaning toward a vegetarian diet and some transitioning into a fully vegan diet. So offer those options are your corporate dinner or wedding with less meat and dairy and more vegetable or plant-based dishes.

As mentioned, root vegetables or a vegetarian chili station are both great ideas to appease a vegetarian guest. But also consider fully plant-based diets by offering foods such as cauliflower mashed potatoes, roasted butternut squash soup (made without cream of course), cashew nut cheese spreads, and even coconut milk-based desserts.

Active Food Stations

Another catering trend for fall is to incorporate active food stations at your event or wedding. Instead of the food being on display or sitting in food warmers for the evening, a station with a chef in tow creates a much more engaging experience for your guests during meal time.

For a more relaxed event, offer a station where a chef creates a small, personal pizza on a grill with any toppings your guest chooses. Fondue stations, whether manned by a chef or not, are always a hit with guests – whether the toppings are savory or sweet. Is your crowd into cocktails and wine? How about a whiskey or wine tasting station?

Whether guided by a chef or done with a DIY approach, ensure your fall event is an experience your event guests will not forget by integrating interactive food stations.

Highlight the Locals

The autumn months are perfect for pairing local foods with local beverages. Highlight nearby farms with fall produce such as leafy greens and root vegetables. Complement dishes made with farm-fresh produce by pairing each with locally-made beers and wines.

Autumn dishes such as chilis and smoke meats pair nicely with IPA’s and stouts if you’re into hops and dark, filling brews. Try serving robust cabernets or spicy tempranillo wines with roasted tomatoes and peppers, grilled pizzas, or cheeses.

Into cocktails? Turn one of your live food stations into an active cocktail bar and let your guests make their own drink (with the help of an experienced mixologist, of course). Use herbs such as rosemary and sage provided by local farms alongside spices like cloves and cinnamon. Mix with darker spirits and a twist or orange to create a warming, autumnal beverage option for your fall event guests.

Warm Drink Stations

Don’t forget for the after-dinner toddy or tea! Another catering trend for fall is to include warm drink stations with offerings such as hot toddies, hot chocolate, coffee and cider (obviously).

Let your guests dress their own warm drink with topping options – oranges or cinnamon sprinkles for toddies, whipped cream for hot chocolate, and cinnamon sticks or berries for cider.

Presentation

Not only is what you serve at your autumn event or wedding important, but how it’s served is something to consider when planning your catering decisions this fall.

Petite appetizers or starters are a great idea for cocktail hour. Small soups in sip-sized dishes, bite-sized bits on tiny wooden stakes, and 1-ounce cups holding berry pie teasers are just a few ideas for the start to your evening.

Simple displays of seasonal herbs and flowers are a great addition to your fall catering presentation. A vase filled with rosemary sprigs or a bowl of pomegranates add just the right hint of color to compliment the food tables.

Conclusion

There are quite a few ways to celebrate what the season has to offer at your event this autumn. Fall catering trends this year include a variety of local menu options, jewel-toned design elements, and guest-inclusive activities to create a memorable experience for you and your guests.