Now that the kids are back to school, your family’s schedule is filling up with playdates and extracurricular activities. It can be difficult to feel connected to your child’s friends, and their families, when everyone is incredibly busy this time of year. However, September is the perfect time to get together with your neighborhood. The weather is still nice enough to keep the guests (and the mess) outside, and everyone is looking for the opportunity to relax a bit.

Throw the best neighborhood Welcome Fall party around with just a few of our helpful hints.

The Invitations

Keep things simple for your laid back neighborhood event by simply inviting people by knocking on doors. This is a great way to meet any neighbors that may be new to the area, or neighbors that you wave to but honestly cannot remember their name. Warmly invite them to your party and take some time to get to know them during your visit as well.

The Décor

Neighborhood gatherings don’t have to be fancy to be memorable. In fact, many families with smaller kids in tow can feel on edge if your décor is a little to fragile for small hands. Decorate your backyard area with items that represent the season and that are easy to get your hands on. Hay bales make excellent additional seating – place them around a fire pit or other conversation areas throughout your yard; once the party is done, you can use the hay for ground cover in the winter or for your compost bin.

Put a few potted mums out and use pumpkins, gourds, or even the zucchini you are still harvesting from your garden as centerpieces for tables. Not only do they add to the ambiance, they also keep your paper tablecloth from blowing away.

Finally, have plenty of lawn games to keep people busy and encourage conversation. If you don’t have a big selection in your garage, ask guests to bring their favorite game to share with the group.

The Food

The last thing you want to be worried about during your party is cooking for the crowd! You can enjoy your party and get to know your guests when you are not in the kitchen, elbows deep in chopping and boiling. Mangia Fresca offers a catering menu that is sure to please anyone at your party. From entrees to salads to desserts, you can choose what best suits your style and budget. It’s all so delicious, you will have a hard time picking your options!

Here’s to an autumn full of new neighbors and conversations around fire pits, the perfect relaxation time in an otherwise busy season. And to cannolis from Mangia Fresca (they are so good!).