October 08, 2012

For many hosts, fall is a favorite time of year to throw a party.  The weather is mostly reliable--at least here in California--making an outdoor party a possibility.  A fall party has a casual vibe--no need to pull out the silver or crystal that you might feel compelled to do in December.  Plus fall decorating and fall menus are easy, homey, and straight forward, besides being beautiful and scrumptious.

Our friends Karen and Steve have been throwing an Octoberfest for 25 years.  They started when they had small children, now these children are grown and attend with their own small children.  Karen sees this annual party as a celebration of living; getting friends and family together, the people she loves the most, to honor yet another year of friendship and health.  I love that! Because of our hosts welcoming and loving charisma, this is an annual event that we all look forward to so much. 

The party starts early-ish at 5 so we can enjoy drinks and appetizers under the pergola next to the bocce ball court in their park-like front garden.  They got the idea to put in a bocce court after visiting Italy and France and enjoying watching the casual pickup games of Italian Bocce and French Petanque.  This is a fun game and girls play too, even though here you just see the guys!

This was a true DIY project, with our hosts designing the pergola and court, plus doing most of the work themselves with minimal help.

In the spring the pergola is dripping with long wavy wisteria blossoms.

During the the bocce game guests enjoy German beer served from kegs plus California wine with a nice selection of appetizers.  When the sun starts to set, we move to the back where one long table is set up.

A long banquet table looks so pretty and is fun for guests.

Assorted German Sausages with selection of mustards
Hot German Potato Salad
Green Salad
Red Cabbage Slaw, recipe below

Apple Strudel with Vanilla Ice Cream

Are you hungry yet?

Our hosts make their own strudel every year.  
They have this party down!

After dinner, we help ourselves to coffee and strudel and 
make our way over to the fire pit to cozy up and chat.

Octoberfest means staying up past bedtime with giggly cousins and eating Nana's strudel!

Before dinner, our hostess invited us to poke around her home and garden.
Let's go!

The dry creek bed not only looks pretty but serves a purpose.  It encircles much of the property to divert rain water.

Quite a stockpile.  Two trees recently fell down on their property.

Kitchen window seat.

It's hard for me to choose a favorite dish at this party because they're all favorites.
I know you'll love this light and fresh tasting slaw as much as I do.

Red Cabbage Slaw


3 T butter
2 lbs red cabbage shredded
3 T water
1/2 t ground cloves
fresh black pepper
2 T sugar
2 T red wine vinegar
salt to taste
2 T red currant jelly
1 T brown sugar
1 T cumin 

Melt butter in heavy saucepan. Add all other ingredients and cook 30 minutes or until tender. Adjust seasonings and serve hot. May be made ahead and reheated, in fact, best if made a day ahead to marry the flavors.

The party specifics...there were about 30 guests and they hired two people to help in the kitchen with serving and clean up.  Our hosts make the food earlier in the day and is heated up right before serving.  The sausages are put on the grill 1/2 hour before we sit down.  The strudel is made the day before.  Asking friends to bring appetizers is a great time saver and anxiety reducer!

I hope you enjoy these parties put on by fabulous hosts with their own unique style. 
 It's all about getting people together and having fun!

Time to go!

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  1. Great post -- but you forgot that the hostess, despite being a grandmother, looks like a movie star.

  2. It was a wonderful party and your post does it justice, but where were all the guests hiding?

  3. How wonderful that you are still able to entertain outdoors with little worry this time of year! We are already on the "iffy" side of all that here. It gets dark SO early now, and it's most certainly pretty chilly in the evenings!!! Your friends put on a whale of a party!!! I love the long table...my favorite set up by far!!! There's just nothing like it! Also love the idea of asking guests to bring along an appetizer. That would REALLY take a load off! Your friends' home is beautiful, and it looks so homey and comfy. That stand with the spoon "hair" is SO COOL!!! I would love that at my house!!! I like quirky little conversation starters like that. Glad you had fun!!!

  4. What a beautiful looking gathering. A perfect setting, wonderful food, and fun times! I am a little jealous, I love that this is a tradition and something that you get to look forward to! :o) Thank you for sharing at Happy Hour Link Party!
    Jaime from crafty scrappy happy

  5. What a wonderful tradition! It looks like you all had a fabulous time, and that table.. wow. So gorgeous! thank so much for sharing :)

  6. Years ago when I was still living in Beverly Hills and flew up to visit once a month or so I happened to be here when it was time for this party and came with you and Terry. It was so much fun and love their home and here you are years later and still attending this wonderful affair...Again I say what great friends you have........


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