TV Guide: Throw a Top-Rated Fall Viewing Party

The cliff-hangers you've been analyzing with friends, family, and coworkers since last season's finales: They're about to be resolved. So instead of catching up the day after, here's a more communal approach to watching your favorite shows. Call it a party but think simple -- themed drinks, easy apps, and entertainment provided by your most-anticipated programs. Here's a reason to throw a party a week now through mid-October.

The Cast

The guest list is a delicate balance: too few and it's barely a party; too many and you risk chatter that drowns out the show. Since couch space is limited, aim for an audience of four to eight. Matchmakers and minglers should feel free to shake up the usual crew (shared fandom creates an instant bond).

The Set

Red-carpet subtext notwithstanding, there's no need to dress your living room to the nines. Just make sure your sofa is stocked with blankets and pillows. Photo confetti that pays homage to your show's cast adds a festive touch (and, if the men of Nashville are involved, a bit of eye candy).

Use a photo-editing program to give digital pictures of family and friends a sepia tint; print onto matte photo paper. Use 1/2-inch to 1-inch circle punches to cut out faces, as well as extra circles from colored paper and vellum. Package the confetti in envelopes, and hand them out to guests for a celebratory toss at midnight.

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The Menu

Your guests will be glad to munch on light snacks and specialty sips (unless prepping a full dinner menu is your pleasure). Go classic with popcorn and crudite, or whip up a signature dish -- read on for ideas based on some of our most eagerly awaited returns.

"Boardwalk Empire"
In the old days, mint and sugar masked the flavor of bad booze; now, they'll take your top-shelf up another notch. Forgo the moonshine for mint juleps -- served by the pitcher, if you'd like. Pineapple upside-down cake, a favorite of the era, is just the thing to keep your guests upright.

"New Girl"
Jess's frozen Thanksgiving turkey might have been a fail, but turkey meatball sliders will surely fare better. And since Zooey Deschanel is the human embodiment of bubbly, Champagne seems like a fitting accompaniment (but honestly, when is it not? It's the beverage equivalent of bacon; everybody loves it! Okay, Jess, new topic).

"How I Met Your Mother"
The final season of this rom-com is bound to be legen -- wait for it -- dary. Beer and bar food are staples for the "HIMYM" gang, so pay homage to favorite episodes with the best burgers in New York, or muffin-pan pizzas worthy of a cross-country drive. Would-be Barney Stinsons should sip straight Scotch (American Scotch, from Scotland) -- the rest can raise a frosty glass to another night of cold beer and great friends at MacLaren's.

"Parks and Recreation"
Three words for you: Treat. Yo. Self. Keep it classic with cupcakes and mimosas, or get your Ron Swanson on with turf-and-turf kebabs. Now is also a good time to remember what's important in life: friends, waffles, and work. (Or waffles, friends, work. But work is third.) Skip the hot iron in favor of frozen waffles, and dole them out trifle-style -- extra whipped cream, of course.

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"Homeland"
Carrie Mathison may pop by her dad's house to pilfer pills, but nothing takes the edge off her stressful day job like a sandwich. Mini grilled cheeses (or large ones, divided) can be made ahead and reheated to recover their ooey-gooey glory. Channel your inner Quinn with a big pot of Indian stew or chickpea curry, and look to white wine for liquid courage.

"Scandal"
Olivia Pope wears a lot of white, but she drinks a lot of red -- wine, that is. Open a Bordeaux that'll bring tears to your eyes, and serve it in long-stem glasses with a side of another Olivia favorite: popcorn. Try garlic-Parmesan, chocolate-almond, rosemary-caramel, chili-lime, or classic stove-popped with butter and salt.

"Nashville"
Whiskey's the tipple of choice for many small-screen icons, and Rayna James is no different -- the brew gives her mad songwriting skills. A classic whiskey or bourbon cocktail will surely make your crew sing.

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This classic drink is perfect for prime time.