The clocks have gone back, the darker nights are quickly drawing in, and Bonfire Night was the last big event before Christmas party season.
But many of us can’t bear to hibernate from the rest of the world for six weeks or so, and if you’ve spent time and money sprucing up your home this year, maybe it’s time to invite friends or family round for dinner.
If you’re entertaining this autumn or winter, there are plenty of ways that you can capture the atmosphere and warmth of the season once the party moves into your living room, to make sure it goes with a bang instead of a fizzle.
Browse a recipe book or have a look online for dinner ideas that will make your guests feel warm and welcome. Stews, hotpots, curries or pasta bakes make easy sharing dishes and create an inviting smell while they are cooking.
The occasion could also be a good chance to practice your roasting skills before Christmas.
Use quirky tea cups or mason jars to present your drinks and shift things up by putting a seasonal twist on classic cocktails. Try out a spiced rum punch to warm the cockles!
If you have a coffee table or fireplace, embellish it with an autumnal centrepiece which grabs attention and creates a wow factor to kick off the conversation. Try turning a hollowed-out pumpkin into a vase for flowers, or even hollow out tiny pumpkins to house tea lights.
Alternatively, decorate a basket or a flower trough with autumnal plants and flowers. If it’s big enough you can use it to present seasonal desserts such as toffee apples or treacle toffee.
Bring autumn into your living or dining room by making subtle colour changes to rugs, throws or cushions, or table decorations such as napkins or centrepieces. Opting for a palette of oranges, yellows, reds and purples can create the essence of the outdoors, providing they remain a good match with your sofa, flooring and other key focal points.
Throws are also a really nice way of making your living room an inviting space to take the conversation once it moves from the dining room or even your bonfire or fire pit.
Lighting your living room effectively is critical to keeping up the conversation. Too bright and you’ll kill the autumn ambience. Too dark, and your room will not feel inviting enough for guests to stay.
Rather than use the main bulb, opt for lamp or side lighting – but consider changing your bulb from bright white to a softer, more homely yellow shade. If you feel this isn’t strong enough, try complementing this with string lights. Avoid ones which twinkle – it can be a little too Christmas-like and can be distracting to people trying to hold a conversation. And don’t forget…
Along with giving a warm glow, there are plenty of candles which capture the scents of the season. You could also use a reed diffuser or even pot pourri which features dried seasonal flowers, plants and leaves.
Shift your sofa
There is always the possibility that retiring to your living room can be the end of dinner party conversation. Too much food (and maybe drink, too!), and if you’re relaxing on La-Z-Boy sofas or armchairs then you can be forgiven for being tempted to doze off!
If you combine the comfort of your furniture with the likelihood that it’s configured around watching the television, there’s the even greater possibility that conversation can cool in favour of attentions turning to the box.
So shift things up a little – switch around the positioning of your sofas or chairs so that guests are more likely to face one another and keep the conversation flowing.