In some respects, autumn is all about endings: Summer is gone, and soon the year will be, too. But there’s another way to interpret the season. Instead of decline, autumn can be about change and abundance. Fall colors thrive, and so do autumn harvests, the bounties of which symbolize the fruits of hard work, patience and perseverance.
For meeting groups that view it through the latter lens, autumn can be an ideal springboard from which to launch events that emphasize growth, commitment, transformation and plenitude.
Of course, a strong seasonal message demands a strong seasonal theme. Here are five that will help you harness autumn’s best attributes in order to make your meeting as memorable as the fall air is crisp:
Farmers across the country spend spring planting crops and summer tending them. Come fall, however, it’s time to reap what they sowed. For that reason, Camelot Party Rentals of Sparks, Nev., recommends a harvest-themed meeting that appeals to attendees’ inner foodies with an autumnal twist on farm-to-table fare.
“Harvest season means outstanding catering,” the company writes in a post on its blog. “Picture a dining table adorned with organic seasonal butternut squash, maple-cured meats and fresh pumpkin pies. Organic catering has already been a huge trend among event planners, and during fall your options will be limitless. The unique seasonal cuisine will not soon be forgotten by attendees.”
One of the hallmarks of fall is Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte -- and the scads of other pumpkin spice treats that have been inspired by it. But forget artificial flavors. Instead, consider celebrating the season with actual pumpkins, suggests event software company Social Tables, which recommends a pumpkin patch theme.
“Picking pumpkins from a pumpkin patch is a great outdoor event that people of all ages can enjoy,” the company says in a post on its blog. “Whether you organize a bus to your nearest farm or bring the pumpkins to your own event space, pumpkin patches are the kind of nostalgic activity that can be enjoyed outdoors, is affordable to host and attend, and often involves delicious foods like ciders, hot chocolate and cinnamon sugar donuts.”
Social Tables also recommends activities like a scarecrow-decorating contest, pumpkin carving, a cider tasting and a scenic hayride, all of which would make perfect complements to pumpkin patch-themed events.
For sports fans, fall typically means one thing: football. Event planners can take advantage of attendees’ seasonal fandom by planning a meeting that celebrates the pigskin.
A tailgate is an especially popular approach, according to HR software company ExactHire, which envisions a giant grill in your venue’s parking lot, cooking game-day favorites like wings, chili and burgers.
“Depending on the date and time of the event, consider streaming a favorite sporting event for all to watch while eating,” ExactHire suggests in a post on its blog. “Don’t forget to have everyone wear their favorite jersey, and have a drawing to win a couple of tickets to a college or pro sporting event.”
Nobody does autumn quite like the Germans, whose annual Oktoberfest is not only a celebration of the season, but also an exciting event theme, suggests ExactHire. “Whether you go with a full-on German fare-inspired pitch-in or keep it simple with some Bavarian pretzels and a beer tasting, you can’t go wrong,” the company says.
Classy, a maker of online fundraising software for nonprofits, has another idea for an Oktoberfest-themed soiree: a pub crawl. “Consider selecting pubs already embracing a fall theme with their drink menu (think pumpkin ales, ciders, mulled wine) and ask participants to break out their lederhosen to put a fun spin on this classic event,” the company suggests on its blog.
The best meetings “ignite” attendees’ passion -- for a company, association, cause or profession. In the fall, event planners have a unique opportunity to plan an event that lights a fire under their group not only figuratively, but also literally, according to Social Tables, which suggests planning a “bonfire bash.”
“Simply light one or more bonfires, set up some chairs and set up some tasty food options. Bring tools you’ll need to roast marshmallows, pop some corn and cook hot dogs,” Social Tables advises. “This kind of event also goes well with live music, so consider hiring a professional guitar player to serenade your guests with fun and relaxing tunes.”