Here’s the reality: You don’t need an actual barn to throw a great barn party this fall. Look to your backyard, patio, or covered porch for the venue. Next, scan your interior for smart pieces you can bring out, and then hit up the dollar store for autumnal decor.
The beauty of a barn party is its inherent vibe, equal parts rustic and imperfect. And that means mismatched chairs, old glass tumblers, and simple cotton linens are welcome, even encouraged. You can take this theme all the way, complete with hay bales and a scarecrow at your entrance, or just dip your toe in, with gingham napkins and Mason jar cocktails.
Barrels and stumps
Use a barrel, which you can rent if you don’t already own one, as the base for a bar or cocktail table, suggests Andrea Correale, CEO of Elegant Affairs in New York City. “And rustic utility carts are perfect as food stations around your ‘barn.’”
Tree stumps can be rolled over from a woodpile to stand in as seats, or pick up a few hay bales from a farm stand and spread an old quilt or camping blankets on top for extra comfort and a splash of color.
Galvanized pails and cans
“Check out crafts stores for galvanized containers, and then add lots of ice to a large, trough-style [bucket] for wine bottles and save mini ones for snacks like pretzels and M&M’s,” says Sophie Kaemmerle, an entertaining expert at NeighborWho.
Jamie Novak, author of “Keep This Toss That,” suggests a variety of low vases filled with baby’s breath and daisies. Other fall centerpieces to consider: sunflowers, mini pumpkins, textured gourds, or a bundle of branches from your trees in a vase full of acorns or pine cones.
Kaemmerle likes to transform old cowboy boots into DIY planters.
Mason jars and gingham
Mason jars are practically required for a barn party because they signal homespun cheer and won’t topple over the way a wineglass will. Add a piece of grosgrain ribbon, twine, or raffia tied in a bow to decorate. You can also bundle silverware with twine and place it upright in a jar, or place votive candles inside for a (safe) way to light up your party.
And as for tablecloths and napkins, reach for gingham, especially red and white checks, says Jeanine Boiko, a blogger at Okio B Designs and a real estate agent with Exit Realty Gateway in Wantaugh, NY.
“This fabric screams ‘country,’” she adds. Dollar-store bandanas in a variety of colors can also be used as napkins and they’re a cute giveaway, along with a cowboy or straw hat, at the end of the event.
These heavy-duty materials are just waiting to be rolled out at your next barn party, say the pros.
“Burlap is an iconic barn-theme necessity that can be put to work as a tablecloth, runner, chair covers, or for draping the ceiling,” says Kaemmerle. You can also glue strips of burlap around Mason jars for centerpieces or wind it along railings, beams, or tentpoles. “Crafty homeowners can sew on a lace border, which combines for a classy yet rustic look,” she adds.
“A twin fitted sheet is the same size as a 6-foot folding table, so you can use it as a tablecloth,” notes Novak.
“It’s the perfect backdrop for a selfie station at your barn party,” Novak says.
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