There are so many ways to decorate your home in a tasteful and festive way for fall. Pumpkins, gourds, fall foliage, and pinecones are a handful of popular themes that can serve as inspiration.

You can mix all of these elements together across your mantle or you can stagger them artfully down your front steps. You can make a fall wreath out of miniature pumpkins. We also love a garland made from oversized pinecones that incorporates fresh magnolia or greenery.

When decorating for fall, it is best to get the most bang for your buck and pick one look that will carry you through the tailgate, Halloween, and Thanksgiving seasons. So, go ahead and bring the fall colors into your home with these simple decorating projects.

Add a Wreath

Laurey W. Glenn

Add a seasonal wreath to the front door. This one incorporates white pumpkins, which are a favorite for the fall season. If you’re up for a quick DIY project, we suggest a 25-minute wreath that starts with a store-bought grapevine wreath.

Set Up a Fall Tableau

Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Decorate a seasonally-inspired table to make your home feel fall-ready. Your foyer is a great place to start with a simple tablescape. We especially love the use of glass cloche containers and terra cotta pots for a touch of garden flair.

Dress Up the Mantel

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Let’s not forget about the mantel! This quick-to-make arrangement is simple and rustic. Southern Living floral genius Buffy Hargett Miller calls it “an easy wow.”

Make Pumpkin Votives

Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

If you’re having any sort of fall festivity at home, add these pumpkin votives to your to-do list. Pro tip: Feel free to skip the container and scatter the votives anywhere that could use a little fall glow. Find a tutorial here.

Set the Table

Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

A smart mix of green tones, white, and flashes of fall color make this centerpiece feel like a fresh, modern cornucopia. Make this centerpiece your own by adding succulents, fresh veggies, or any other decor that feels right. Anything goes!

Create a Tabletop Topiary

Laurey W. Glenn

Raid your kitchen cabinets to gather the elements for this fragrant display. It incorporates fragrant herbs, pumpkins, artichokes, and white pumpkins. A display perfect for the kitchen.

Carve Out a Mumkin

Hector Sanchez

Carve out a medium-to-large pumpkin to fit a store-bought pot of mums. Then, simply place inside as you would a pot. To maximize the look, fill smaller gourds with containers of pansies to create a lovely fall trio.

Decorate With Apples

Laurey W. Glenn

Apples are in-season, relatively affordable, and colorful. Here, we created a “gathering” basket of sorts by lining Granny Smith green apples alongside moss, rocks, and green berries on the inside of a long basket. On the outside, we added a single-line border of green carnations and spider mums.

Incorporate Fall Foliage

Photo: Helen Norman

The key to arranging leaves is to group them by size and color. Yes, much like you would arrange flowers. Fiery red maple makes a beautiful focal point when countered with the feathery foliage of dawn redwood laden with globes of gray-green fruit on the fringes.

Line Your Steps

Helen Norman

There’s a reason you see mums each fall—they work. Once buds begin to open, you’re guaranteed blooms whether your display is in sun or shade. To prolong the show, water when dry and remove spent flowers. Pair with Mexican sage and boxwoods to recreate this stunning display.

Stack Pumpkins on Any Table

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

For a quick and easy approach, group your favorite tiny pumpkins on a side table, and let the collection speak for itself. There is no right or wrong way to create this display. This arrangement looks unintentional, adding a carefree, casual seasonal touch.

Make a Blooming Pumpkin

Jim Franco

To make this arrangement, choose your favorite pumpkin and pick up some violas, pansies, red and green leaf lettuce, thyme, and rosemary to decorate. Clean the pumpkin with a Clorox wipe, cut a hole in the top, and scoop out seeds. Line with aluminum foil or a plastic bag, and fill three-quarters full with potting soil and plants. We used Sorbet violas and Crystal Bowl pansies.

Consider a Natural Tablescape

Photo: Jennifer Davick

For a natural tablescape that feels equal parts rustic and elegant, pair simple white plates with timeless flatware and thin stemware. Bold orange napkins can give the setting a pop of seasonal color.

Make Pomanders

Photo: Ralph Anderson

Display oranges studded with dried whole cloves. These can be hung from a mirror or mantelpiece, or displayed in a pretty bowl as shown here. Bonus points for something copper or wood in color as it picks up the brown hue of the cloves!

Make Your Own Serving Pieces

Photo by: Helen Norman

Topped with silver serving pieces, pale gray and green pumpkins add interesting height to your buffet. To execute, simply find Cinderella pumpkins that are as close to flat on the top. Then, just cut off the handle of each pumpkin and place a serving tray atop that is as close to the pumpkin’s circumference as possible.

Display Pumpkin Topiaries

Photo: Helen Norman

Vertical arrangements make a big statement at the front door. To create topiaries, sandwich bay wreaths between pumpkins stacked in concrete urns, and top with a small pumpkin. Tip: Tucking in cool-weather edibles such as ornamental flowering cabbages, kale, and bay leaves can add a distinctive twist or a fun shake-up.

Welcome Friends With a Formal Table

Photo: Jennifer Davick

In the napkin arena, nothing’s nicer than a generous 22-inch hemstitched piece of white linen, monogrammed and crisply ironed. Create a look that is “uniquely you” by combining simple stemware with more decorative china, or vice versa. Try to incorporate as much vintage silver as you can find to add sparkle. Set place cards with your own handwriting for a personal touch.

Don’t Underestimate Fresh Veggies

Helen Norman

Want your front porch to feel more fall harvest than Halloween party? Pair pumpkins with potted kale to create a warm welcome. Grace an entry with a garland made of clippings from the garden.

Paint Pumpkins

Photo by: Helen Norman

It’s simple to decorate pumpkins with just a few supplies from the hardware or crafts store. Create stylish seasonal decor with some gold and black paint. Place them on the porch or all around the house.

Incorporate Branches

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Arrange branches, dried grasses, moss, squash, and small pumpkins in a vase as you would a traditional flower display. Then, choose a single pumpkin with an interesting shape or a twisted stem to showcase. Place it on a smaller table or stool to help set it apart from the rest.

Send a Message

Use this pumpkin carving idea to carve a message on your pumpkin. Southern Living Associate Garden Editor Rebecca Bull Reed created this work of art and added the wise words “Spooky is what you think you see.” What do you see?

String Together a Cornhusk Garland

Photo: William Dickey

Construct an easy-to-assemble Indian corn garland beginning with a piece of sisal rope. If you like, dye it dark brown or a golden maize shade. Wrap it with broomcorn, corn tassels (stalks are available at farmers’ markets), or other dried grasses. Place corn along the rope single file or gathered in bundles of three. Wire corn securely in place, and then tie raffia on top for a finishing touch. Hang your garland across a door or from your mantel.

Mix Colors

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Don’t limit yourself to just traditional orange in your display. Orange and yellow pumpkins really pop when mixed with bright greens. Try using small green plants as well as gourds and squash with green tones.

Set Up A Glamorous Banquet

Photo: Jennifer Davick

Emphasize the beauty of your meal by serving it on gold and glass dinnerware. Pro tip: Let your menu influence your decor. For instance, this menu includes berries so we selected seasonal flowers in deep pink and berry tones.

DIY Floral Pumpkins

Helen Norman

To make these festive party decorations, pick up a carving or soft-skinned pumpkin, an awl (pointed tool), and some cut mums. Using the awl, poke a hole in the pumpkin and fill it in with a mum stem. Repeat this process until the entire pumpkin is covered. To help extend its life, keep this decoration in the refrigerator until party time.

Display a Terrarium

Photo by: Ralph Anderson; Styling by: Buffy Hargett

Start by choosing a clear glass container with a wide opening. Gently add fine gravel to your container. Top with a thin layer of aquarium charcoal (Find it at a pet store). Then add moist potting soil. These miniature landscapes can hold a collection of colorful plants for display or just show off one plant. Good choices include ferns, peperomias, succulents, begonias, Irish moss, miniature orchids, kalanchoes, and African violets.

Make a Mantelpiece Arrangement

Photo: Helen Norman

Celebrate the bounty of fall with multiple show-stopping arrangements. Orchids, lotus pods, rose hips, and cattails brighten this dining room. The symmetry of the two makes for a perfect pairing on the mantel.

Make Your Own House Number

Helen Norman

Announce your address in style by cleverly etching your house number (or your initials or name) into a pumpkin. You can pile a combination of traditional and heirloom pumpkins on your front steps. Top it with your etched design.

Etch Some Pumpkins

Southern Living

Etching will leave an artful design on your pumpkin. The technique allows your pumpkin to last longer and is less messy than traditional carving.

Use Color for Impact

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

A neutral backdrop of white linens and dishes puts the focus on punches of orange and green. See it in the colored glassware, mini pumpkins, linen napkins, raffia-wrapped water glasses—and, of course, seasonal leaves.

Spray Paint Your Centerpiece

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn

A coat of metallic gold spray paint upgrades a grouping of glass candlesticks and heaps of large North Carolina apples. Feel free to do this with fake produce. That way, you can keep it for longer.

Play With Tacks

Helen Norman

Want to know a secret? Upholstery tacks lend a graphic look to plain white pumpkins. Mix up the sizes and shapes of the tacks to create different patterns.

Top a Table

Helen Norman

Easy-care succulents, such as sedums, echeverias, crassulas, and more, are all the rage. We love the idea of creating an actual green tabletop with a bed of moss and variety of succulents and seasonal gourds on top.

Transform Your Mantel for Halloween

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

A stark color contrast gives your fireplace mantel an animated, playful feel, and the branches and moss add height and dimension. Use small containers in a black or dark wood finish along with items such as horns, crooked sticks, and Spanish moss. The darker colors will help the bright orange pumpkins stand out.

Offer Treats, Not Tricks

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

This buffet of sweets features store-bought goodies that guests of all ages will enjoy. For a unified look, place desserts on a collection of white cake stands and platters.

Consider Spooky Pumpkins

Helen Norman

Black and white ‘Lumina,’ ‘Moonshine,’ and ‘Jarrahdale’ pumpkins set a mysterious air in your garden. Cluster them on your steps or pile them up on a table. If you can’t find white or gray pumpkins locally, try spray paint.

Use Playful Place Cards

Photo: Jennifer Davick

Write the name of each guest on a leaf place card attached to a little felted acorn that doubles as a fun party favor. Scatter loose felted acorns—or real ones—up and down the table to play up the natural theme.

Take the Party Outside

Photo: Ralph Anderson

Take the Thanksgiving feast outdoors. But don’t host your friends and family on folding chairs and paper plates. Bring the good stuff outside with a perfectly set table in the garden.

Create a Sophisticated Setting

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn

Look to an heirloom china pattern for inspiration, like this palette of champagne and gold with subtle touches of pink. Don’t be afraid to combine old with new, traditional with modern, and heirloom with inexpensive.

Think Seasonally

Laurey W. Glenn

The plumes of eye-catching purple fountain grass become more numerous as fall nears. For a stunning arrangement, flank it with another explosive favorite, ‘Fireworks’ gomphrena, which is great in the ground or a pot. Add three ‘Bandana Red’ lantanas for bright blooms and two ‘Margarita’ sweet potato vines to trail—and voila!

Utilize Your Sideboard

Photo: Miki Duisterhof

Create a functional but beautiful sideboard by grouping simple fall arrangements, like these bouquets of orange dahlias, red and yellow roses, and calla lilies, with festive plates and serveware. It makes for a stunning statement piece and is also functional as a serving station for a meal or snack.

Create a Tabletop Garden

Photo: Helen Norman

For an arrangement that will last through Thanksgiving, place a potted oncidium orchid in a large, lined cachepot, and surround it with water-soaked florist foam. Insert cut fall foliage into the foam along with dried crepe myrtle pods and rose hips. Then add stems of orange dendrobiums in water-filled florist tubes.

Reimagine Decor in Your Home

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Host a stylish autumn get-together with recycled things from around the house. You can fill an oversize jug with branches of leaves cut from the yard for a free centerpiece. Then, simply set the table however you’d like and drape some blankets on the backs of chairs.

Decorate the Door Knocker

Ralph Anderson

To accent the door knocker, zip-tie two crookneck gourds together, and then zip-tie them to a foam-core oval about five inches long. Cover ties with ribbon. Working at an angle, hot-glue sprigs of coontie palm, croton, holly fern, asparagus fern, and abelia to cover the foam core. Loop wire through one of the back ties, and hang above the door knocker. The hardy foliage will last about two weeks in cool weather and can be replaced.

Make a Pumpkin-and-Gourd Wreath

Helen Norman

If you’re looking for a wreath that’ll go from Halloween through Thanksgiving, consider doing it with mini pumpkins and gourds. Fill in the gaps with moss to make it feel fresh and full.

Porch Pumpkin Patch

Helen Norman

Decorate the porch with pumpkins, gourds, and hay bales for a look straight out of the pumpkin patch. The hay bales are great for adding height where needed, as are baskets and pots. Pro tip: You want this set-up to feel symmetrical but not perfect.

Mix Dried Flowers and Herbs

Laurey W. Glenn

Mix bunches of blooms and foliage in a rainbow of hues. To illuminate your table, just add a glass hurricane and candle to the middle of the wreath. After displaying it flat as a centerpiece, you can hang it from a pretty ribbon as a wreath.

Have a Grown-Up Picnic

Photo: Erica George Dines

Doing Thanksgiving outdoors? Don’t underestimate picnic tables if you have them. You can do them up for a holiday or party with rustic centerpieces, like the ones here at Blackberry Farm that line the center of tables with an array of colorful gourds.

Pair “Pumpkins” and Acorns

Laurey W. Glenn

It’s cute as can be, but don’t call it pumpkin! It’s actually pumpkin-on-a-stick eggplant, which turns a brilliant red-orange color when it matures and begins to dry. Look for it at farmers’ markets or in the floral sections of large supermarkets, or grow it yourself from seeds. Use it to create a fall wreath.

Bring the Indoors Outside

Photo: Erica George Dines

Surround a rustic picnic table with upholstered chairs like the orange wingback options used here. Pro tip: Don’t worry if you don’t have a full set of matching chairs. As shown here, the eclectic mix of different styles can create a welcoming, “gather as you are” vibe.

Dress Up a Store-Bought Garland

Southern Living

Embellish a store-bought garland by adding bittersweet, fall foliage or dried hydrangeas. Finish the look with pumpkins and cabbages on the steps and a pine-cone wreath accented with leaves and flowers. Tip: Prolong the life of greenery with spritzes of water; coat pumpkins with Mod Podge.

Make Luminaries

Laurey W. Glenn

Cast an inviting glow on your steps using paper bags stenciled with the shapes of fall foliage taken right from your own trees. This can be a fun project to do with your kids, as it only requires paper bags and scissors. Add sand and votive candles to make them shine.

Make a Seasonal Wreath

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Tamale wrappers create a hot look that’s sure to spice up your entry with this wreath. Simple corn husks are folded into loops for a ruffled effect that softens the straight lines of the paneled door. A bold chartreuse bow echoes the greenery in the pedestal urns.

Display an Autumn-Inspired Bar

Photo: Helen Norman

Use pumpkins as risers to elevate appetizer plates. Create a simple look by piling pumpkins in a Champagne bucket and weaving branches of berries around the rim. To avoid pumpkin overload, add a cut-flower bouquet arranged in a pitcher. Tip: Afterwards, fit these pumpkins into other displays.

Plant a Transitional Window Box

Photo: Helen Norman

Plan ahead for plantings that will transition through the holidays with a few additions. Start with ornamental cabbage, bittersweet, pumpkins, dried hydrangeas, artichokes, and ivy, then add in gilded branches and berries.

Let Nature Inspire Your Table

Helen Norman

Look to the land for seasonal table décor. Remove the top of heirloom pumpkins to create a trio of festive vases. Fill them with bouquets of roses, persimmons, wheat, dried lotus pods, hydrangeas, fern fronds, and oak leaves.

Create a Cozy Outdoor Fireplace

Helen Norman

Create a festive retreat for guests with lots of plush seating and a mantel swathed in a foliage garland made from a combination of oak and magnolia leaves. Decorate only one side of the fireplace for a modern feel. Complete the look with simple and weighty pottery crocks filled with autumn leaves, hydrangeas, and berries.

Utilize Colorful Fall Foliage

Laurey W. Glenn

Rake in the compliments with a wreath featuring brilliant autumn leaves. This works with maple, oak, sweet gum, hickory, dogwood—whatever is putting on a show in your yard. You can also make it with preserved leaves purchased at a crafts store or online.

Hang a Corn Badge

Hector Manual Sanchez; Design: Rebecca Bull Reed

Ribbons of burlap create a rustic background for iconic fall plants that are bundled into sheaves to form decorative accents. These look great when hung on a front door, in each window, on top of columns, over a mantelpiece, you name it.

Spice Up the Patio

Hector Manuel Sanchez

Bring the season to the table with a decorating recipe that calls for pumpkins and mums in warm shades of paprika, cinnamon, and curry. Add a helping of Indian corn on the side, and don’t forget to sprinkle in assorted pecans, hickory nuts, and a few acorns gathered from your yard.

Forage For Foliage

Hector Manuel Sanchez

“Use natural materials to beautify your table by gathering leaves, berries, hydrangeas, and more from your backyard,” Mary Hollis Huddleston of Mrs. Southern Social and Please Be Seated, the elevated event-rental company, said. “In the South, we’re lucky that we still have plants blooming in the fall. I love combining these things with more seasonal items, like colorful autumn leaves.”

Let There Be Light

Hector Manuel Sanchez

“Do you remember in the movie Clueless when Cher had to ‘design a lighting concept’ for her date with Christian? She was wrong about the guy but 100% right about lighting—it’s the best way to create the perfect ambience,” Mary Hollis Huddleston of Mrs. Southern Social and Please Be Seated, the elevated event-rental company, said. “Everyone looks better when the candles are glowing, and there’s something about tall, elegant tapers that just makes a table so pretty.”

Start With The Table

Hector Manuel Sanchez

When styling a photo-ready fete, beginning with one simple element can make all the difference. “I’m usually inspired by beautiful linens, and then I’ll build my palette from there, pulling out one or two colors from the fabrics … to complete the look,” Mary Hollis Huddleston of Mrs. Southern Social and Please Be Seated, the elevated event-rental company, said.


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