Thanksgiving Decorating with Nature

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.

By Cait Johnson, author (with Maura Shaw) of Celebrating the Great Mother (Inner Traditions, 1995). Copyright (c) 1995 by Cait Johnson and Maura Shaw. Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions Press.
By Cait Johnson, author (with Maura Shaw) of Celebrating the Great Mother (Inner Traditions, 1995).


William C
William C2 years ago

Thank you.

W. C
W. C2 years ago


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers3 years ago


Peggy D.
Peggy D4 years ago

Love gathering things from nature all year round.

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Jennifer C.
Past Member 7 years ago

Great ideas. Thanks.

K s Goh
KS Goh8 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Liz Thompson
Elisabeth T8 years ago

What great ideas, thanks so much...

Julie Peters
Julie Peters8 years ago

Thanks for the great ideas! I'm learning so much from this site & this community !