Entertaining Essentials for a Festive Fall Dinner Party
From charcuterie boards to puzzles to candles and more, these Austin-based items will make any gathering special
By Vanessa Blankenship
(Set of 3) from Molave, $90
The Impala – Ankole Serving Bowls are handmade by artisan members of Women’s Global Empowerment Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides women in northern Uganda with economic, social and political programs. These bowls are made from sustainably sourced, upcycled and each piece is carved and polished by hand. These serving bowls come in a set of three and are ideal for serving appetizers, savory dips and salads. The natural dinnerware is hand wash only and heat sensitive.
Set from Loot Rentals, $120 daily
Loot Rentals is a premiere event and wedding rental service company headquartered in Austin that specializes in vintage finds and an exceptionally curated selection of gorgeous furniture, tableware and décor. Loot has an incredible collection of tables and bars to rent for your next get-together. We recommend this refinished, vintage German Biergarten table set to take your outdoor dinner party to the next level. The table set folds for easy transport, so setting up in your outdoor space will be a breeze, and it can comfortably sit up to six people.
from Hey Moon Ceramics, $54
One of our all-time favorite places to find beautiful pottery is Hey Moon Ceramics, carrying the work of ceramic artist Lauren Robertson who makes all of her one-of-a-kind pieces in her studio. Robertson’s wheel-thrown stoneware includes mugs, catch-alls, bowls, planters, vases and cruets. The designs are modern, organically shaped and incorporate an array of earth tone colors. The Blue Speckled Vase would serve as an excellent statement piece that will add a touch of flair to your outdoor dining space. The vase can hold your favorite bouquet of flowers or double as a fun beverage pitcher.
by Wild Rose Photo Studio, price varies
Owner and main photographer of Wild Rose Photo Studio, Andrea Reesing is an Austin-based, full-time wedding and portrait photographer. Reesing’s photography business has a fun twist to the standard photo booth — The Polaroid Bar! The photo studio offers two rental options: Photo Booth or Self Service. The Photo Booth option comes with a colorful backdrop, a photographer who will take the photos for your guests, film, props and much more. The Self Service Polaroid Bar includes the cameras, film and manual instructions.
from Nannie Inez, $200
Creating ambient lighting for those late-night dinner parties in the backyard can transform your space into a magical oasis. If you’re looking for a cool glow without flames or a cord, we recommend the Carrie Portable LED Lamp from Nannie Inez. Lightweight, portable and minimalist design, this lamp is a great substitute for candles on an outdoor dining table. The lamp has dimming settings so you can set the light source to your desired mood, and it comes in three different colors — black, white and dark olive.
from Wine for the People, $34
Texas winemaker Rae Wilson’s Wine for the People is home to her two labels: Dandy Rosé (the flagship brand) and La Valentía. The 2020 La Valentía Cinsault is a delicious red wine made from the Cinsault fruit from the Phillips Vineyard in the Texas High Plains. The wine is a light-medium body that adds freshness, fruit and spice. It’s a wonderful wine to drink outside and pairs well with roasted duck, grilled root vegetables, Moroccan lamb or gumbo.
from take heart, $36
A small boutique in the center of East Austin, take heart is one of our go-to places for meaningful and unique home goods, art, jewelry, books and much more. The store features a range of local artists and international designers focusing on Japanese design. If you’re looking to add a game element to your outdoor dinner party, we recommend the Great Shapes by Piecework Puzzles, a line of jigsaw puzzles created in Los Angeles. The 500-piece puzzle is a great way to bond with your guests and encourages everyone to participate in a group activity.
from Cultured Grazing Company, (small) $107
A dinner party isn’t complete without an extravagant charcuterie spread, and Cultured Grazing Company specializes in making dinner-worthy boxes, grazing tables, platters and baskets. Colette Wetzel founded the company in 2017 and quickly mastered the culinary art of charcuterie boards. The Cheese & Charcuterie Platter includes three to four hand-selected cheese, two or three cured meats, seasonal fruits, dried fruit, olives, honey, jams, nuts, crackers and other tasty treats like cornichons and radishes.
from Paper + Craft Pantry, $35
The Paper + Craft Pantry is a locally owned stationery shop and workshop studio consisting of all things paper with a curated assortment of cards, stationery, writing instruments, office and art supplies and home goods. Shoppers can even find goods made from Paper + Craft Pantry’s in-house stationery and product line. Paper + Craft Pantry has an incredible variety of arts and crafts kits for little ones, and the Woodland Fairy Bracelet Kit is at the top of our list. The kit comes with enough beads to make ten bracelets and a selection of beads in the shape of flowers, leaves and geometric shapes. It’s a great activity for kids to enjoy at any outdoor dinner party.
from The Wild Susan Company, price varies
Set the mood outside with a scented candle from The Wild Susan Company. The Zilker candle — part of the brand’s ATX series featuring candles named after neighborhoods and landmarks in Austin — is a candle you’ll want to reorder again. The candle is infused with hints of earthy sandalwood, light cactus flower and minty eucalyptus to create a calming aroma. It’s the perfect candle to light while entertaining guests.
from Recess Pickleball, $188
Pickleball has risen in popularity for years and is now the fastest-growing sport in the country. A hybrid of tennis, ping-pong and badminton, Pickleball is a racquet sport played on a smaller court, and it’s quickly become a favorite pastime. Austinites Maggie Brown and Grace Moore founded their local pickleball equipment business, Recess Pickleball, during the pandemic and
created chic paddles named after iconic areas in Austin like “Barton Springs,” “Hyde Park” and “Clarksville.” We recommend buying a two-paddle pickleball set to use as an energetic game to keep things lively at your dinner party.
from Apartment F, $36
With a brick-and-mortar located in East Austin, Apartment F is an ethically sourced shop with a curated selection of homeware, apothecary, pantry goods and handmade Moroccan and Turkish rugs and pillows. Simple and elegant, these Green Milieu Linen Napkins are made from 100% European flax and sold in sets of two. The classic design and soft texture make these napkins well suited for an outdoor dinner party and will surely impress any guest. The Green Milieu is our pick, but other colors include Cafe Creme, Ash and Natural Stripe.
Incorporating live music into a dinner party can inspire good conversation, great vibes and encourage your guests to get up and dance. Founded by Austin-based musician Mikaela Kahn, Texas SunMusic is a boutique music booking company that helps match clients with talented performers for special events, weddings, corporate parties and more. Texas Sun Music has a diverse range of local talent, from vocal soloists to duos and trios to jazz ensembles.