So last week, I walk into my cousin’s house to drop off a birthday present, and the place is all decorated for Halloween, top to bottom. A black witch-and-bats decal set drifted its way spookily up the stairway wall. Faux black ravens sat perched atop four wall sconces in the family room. The entryway’s two console tables featured perfect little vignettes of a witch’s cauldron scattered fall leaves, Gothic candlesticks and even a bottle of wine with a black-and-white spider-themed label. So I drove to my house and went down in the basement, shuffling around for fall decorations. The pickings were slim – just two plug-in Halloween Jack-o-lanterns, designed for the seasonally-lazy like me.
That’s when it hit me – I could make my own – out of everyday, cheap or foraged materials. Here are some of the ideas I came up with. Feel free to steal a few and save yourself some time and cash:
For this autumn-themed floral arrangement, I just hit up some of my garden and forest favorites for flowers, leaves and berries. In this vase are my amber-colored Flower Carpet Amber roses, red sumac panicles, the rainbow-tinged leaves of ColorFlash® astilbe, rose hips (the small orange berries – found ’em in the woods behind our housing development), Tropicanna® canna and Tropicanna Black leaves and Festival® Burgundy cordyline (the long, dark-red, strappy foliage used as an accent).
Everyone has a bowl, right? And everyone needs to eat more fruit, right? And don’t they always have a big honkin’ bowl of fruit in the middle of those magazine shots of designer kitchens? Plus, the colors and organic, rounded shapes are always needed in great design. Plus, I have to admit, it’s a lot easier to justify to myself (and my husband) that I didn’t blow money on fancy decorations. I just wanted to buy my loving family some wholesome, healthy fruit (sniff)! In the fall, try to go for fall colors and textures – the reds of apples and pomegranates, the rusts, oranges and yellows of mangoes, the purples of grapes and plums and the golds and browns of pears. I prefer no green, especially the lighter spring greens, although I’ve seen plenty of designers successfully pair them with purples and plums in fall. Plus, seasonal fruits and vegetables that are green like artichokes, grapes, apples and pears are, in fact, seasonally appropriate.
After trying to put a pumpkin each in front of the brick-based lampposts flanking my driveway and just having them look … awkward, my husband suggested we simply set them in the now-pooped, kidney-shaped landscaping beds on our front lawn. I laughed at Hubby’s humble little attempt to come up with something aesthetically pleasing. But I was hardly able to blurt out, “you’re an engineer … you don’t DO design!” before he came up with the prettiest little pumpkin vignettes in the whole wide world (one big, red, warty thing with a cluster of smaller pumpkins and gourds around it – $36 total, from our traditional day-at-the-pumpkin-patch with Maya). I might still use the plug-in-pumpkins on the porch for Halloween, but from now on, I will use this fall design scheme in my yard. And probably take all the credit for the idea.
Even the humblest of roadside plants can look sophisticated when grouped en masse (used just by themselves; no mixed bouquets). At least that’s the Euro-chic way to go about it. I found these reeds, with their plumy, silvery-grey seedheads, swaying in the sunshine on the wetland trails behind my sister’s property. But I’ve also seen them growing on roadsides everywhere. (Note: I wish I’d brought garden gloves or thought to pull my sleeves over my hands when I picked these – I sliced my finger on either the thick, sharp leaves or broken shards of bent stem.)
Here are a few other ideas some of our readers have sent us. Enjoy!