Years ago, when I lived in Florida, my best friend and her husband would always throw a crazy Halloween party. We’d go all out every year. One year we decorated super scary (spider webs, black lights, fog machine!) and made creepy treats. Another year we celebrated with a Jersey Shore theme (lots of bronzer and big hoop earrings!) and lots of dancing.

I kind of miss those days. They seem like 1,000 years ago and now I’m 1,000 miles away from that crowd of friends. But at the same time, I just don’t have the energy required to pull off a big party like the kind we used to have back in the day. However, as the calendar page turned to October and as autumn weather started to settle in, I kind of wanted to celebrate fall. It’s my favorite time of year! So I decided to have a low-key get together with a few friends.

The Lazy Mama’s Guide to a Laid Back Fall Happy HourTo get in the spirit, I started decorating the house about a week before the party. My husband and I bought some pumpkins at Kirkland’s to put all over the place. We also stocked up on a bunch of candles in our favorite fall scents – apple cider, cinnamon stick, pumpkin pie! Then I got on Amazon. I ordered some artificial fall leaf sprays, fake acorns and miniature pumpkins, a fall leaf garlandfor the mantle, and silk fall leaves to scatter around.

I filled a clear vase with the acorns and a couple miniature pumpkins, and then arranged the leaf sprays in the vase like a floral arrangement. I had envisioned making cute little party favors (kind of like these) with the leftover miniature pumpkins but ended up just piling them in baskets on tables around the house, and they look really cute. I took another basket and filled it with the rest of the silk leaves. Our house is very neutral (lots of gray!) so it’s fun to see the bright pops of yellow, orange, and red here and there!

Next, I got on Pinterest. I was looking for my go-to boozy apple cider recipe and ended up finding a recipe for honeycrisp apple sangria that sounded good, so I decided to make both! I started looking at fall recipes like these mini caramel apples and some of these appetizers and then reminded myself that I was trying to make it low-key! So I went with simple, store-bought stuff. If you have a Wegman’s or a Trader Joe’s by you, they make great frozen appetizers that you can just pop in the oven. Wegman’s carries some southwestern veggie trumpets and a yummy seafood trio. Trader Joe’s has stuff like mini chicken parmesans, mini tacos, and feta and onion pastry cups. Some of those, some chips and veggies and dip, plus my sangria and cider and I was all set. Oh, and sliced apples and caramel dipping sauce. The miniature caramel apples sounded so good, but they seemed like a lot of work!

Then, I had to clean up. I try to keep the living area as uncluttered as possible, but sometimes at the end of the day, stuff is everywhere! Books, toys, pacifiers, blankets, socks that have gotten kicked off. And then there are some baby gear items that we just don’t bother moving around. The Pack n Play, the bouncer, the high chair… For the smaller things, I’m a big fan of baskets. There’s a basket on the coffee table where I keep all of the little itty bitty baby things – teething toys, pacifiers, rattles – and it helps contain everything.  I also have a basket under the coffee table where I keep extra diapers, bibs, etc.  You can’t see in it, so it just looks like a wicker basket under there. We did the usual cleaning – swept the floors, wiped down all the counters, made sure the bathroom was clean (I left all of the baby’s bath stuff in the tub and made sure to pull the shower curtain closed before people arrived!) and put out Halloween themed hand towels. Just before people were due to arrive, we lit candles, spread out the snacks, stuck some appetizers in the oven, made a triple batch of sangria, and put the apple cider on the stove. When the first guests arrived, they exclaimed that it smelled like fall as soon as they walked into our house. That’s kind of what I was going for!

We have a big open-concept kitchen with an island, so everyone gathered in there around the food and talked and laughed. I love having get-togethers in our house where everyone just comes and hangs out like that. Maybe next year, I’ll get ambitious and try to be a little fancier. But because I did everything the easy way this time around, I was able to relax and enjoy the party myself!

Happy fall, y’all!