To help get us in a festive mood for the holiday feast, we’ve come up with a dozen easy, fun decorating ideas, using only the abundant gifts of nature.
Simple, non-toxic and absolutely gorgeous, these bountiful, beautiful ideas are sure to please:
1. Centerpieces: Pumpkins and other winter squashes, Native American corn, acorns, nuts, grapes, pears, pomegranates, and apples overflowing from a wicker cornucopia or heaped in a wooden bowl look abundant and beautiful in the center of your festal table.
2. Leaf coasters: Autumn leaves make great coasters to protect your furniture from rings and stains. Oak leaves are especially tough, leathery, and durable.
3. Natural napkin rings: Tie napkins with raffia and tuck in a pretty fallen leaf and an acorn, or a cinnamon stick or two. Guests can add their cinnamon to a pot of hot cider to sip on later.
3. Simple arrangements: There is a beautiful Zen simplicity in a perfect branch bearing colored leaves set into an earthen vase. Sometimes that’s all you need for a seasonal and dramatic focal point.
4. Pumpkin vase: Hollow out a pumpkin and place a cup inside to hold fresh or dried flowers.
5. Pomanders: Start making them now so they’ll be ready in time for Yuletide gift-giving, tree-decorating, and home-scenting:
Using a darning needle, poke holes in lemons or small oranges, tangerines, or apples and insert a clove in each hole. Place the clove-studded fruits in a shallow baking dish filled with a mixture of ground cinnamon and cloves, turning occasionally, until the fruits have dried and hardened. (It speeds things along if you place them on top of a radiator or refrigerator. Plus it will make your home smell heavenly!) When they are “cured,” dust them off, tie a pretty ribbon around them if you like, and give as gifts, hang on the branches of your tree, or place them in a bowl at pulse points in your home.
6. Grapevine: Gather grapevines and twist them into garlands or wreaths for table, mantelpiece, doorway, or stairs. Add leaves and berries, if you like.
7. Multiple fruits: Miniature pumpkins, apples, pomegranates, or pears look charming placed in a row on a bookshelf or mantel, or marching up the stairs.
8. Leaf garlands: Stitch leaves together with heavy thread or tie bunches together and wire them into a garland.
9. Fruit slices: Slice apples crosswise, thinly, and allow to dry in a warm oven or on top of the radiator. Add to grapevine or leaf garlands.
9. Decorated votive holders: Glue or tie the following around the outside of your glass votive candle holders: dried apple slices, cinnamon sticks, cornhusks, autumn leaves.
10. Decorated tapers: Place tapers in shallow bowls filled with beautifully-colored Native American corn, or place a ring of acorns around them, or set them into hollowed miniature pumpkins or apples.
11. Festive lamps and lights: Glue a pretty leaf to a nightlight cover, or add autumn leaves to a lampshade.
12. Native corn: Thread the kernels of Native American corn to make pretty jewel-like strings to hang in a doorway or place around a lampshade. For how-to instructions, see Native Corn necklaces.