Seasonal Decorating: Autumn

by Tammy Adamson-McMullen

Autumn is a time to enjoy and decorate with the season's bounty. It's fairly common for such seasonal accoutrements as gourds, fall leaves and cornstalks to find their way to the Thanksgiving table, but these items also can be used to welcome guests before they enter the house.

Here are a few easy and inexpensive ideas, seen in my travels, for dressing up your home's exterior for Turkey Day:

1) Pots O' Pumpkins: Take three autumn-colored pots and group them together on the porch or walkway. Turn a slightly smaller pot upside down in each pot and top this with the coordinating saucer. Fill the saucer with leaves, acorns, small gourds or fall florals and top the whole arrangement with a pumpkin, squash or gourd. (Silk floral arrangements are best suited for covered porches or similar protected spaces.)

2) Door Stalks: Take two large bunches of dried corn stalks and cinch each with decorative ribbon. Behind the ribbon, tuck in dried sunflowers, cattails or other fall flowers of your choosing. Lean the bunches on either side of the front door, with pumpkins, squashes or gourds at their base to stabilize the stalks and add color. If you have the time and inclination, attach acorns or pressed leaves to the ribbon, using a glue gun.

3) Gourd Stacks: This decorative treatment requires three pumpkins or gourds of different sizes and, for the most drama, different colors. Remove  the stem of the largest pumpkin and place the pumpkin in a pot. The pumpkin should come close to filling the pot in girth and should top the pot in height by a few inches so it can be seen. Take another pumpkin of smaller size and remove the stem. Center the second pumpkin on the first and, if needed, secure it either with a couple of skewers or craft putty. Top the second pumpkin with the smallest of the three, leaving the stem on in this case and securing the pumpkin as needed.

To add a bit more interest, drape a garland of leaves around the rim of the pot. If there's room, tuck a solar light into the arrangement so it can be enjoyed at night.

4) Fall Hangups: Don't leave a hanging basket hook empty! Instead, take a hanging basket and fill it with small gourds and squashes, leaves scooped from the yard and a colorful branch or two from a tree. If desired, tuck a small pot of ivy or a similar trailing vine into the basket. (This same treatment can be altered easily in a few weeks' time by replacing the basket's contents with fir boughs, holly and berries.)

5) Thanksgiving Basket: Place a large basket near the front door and fill it with empty mason jars. Into each jar, place something that means "autumn" to you: cobs of Indian corn; dried sunflowers and mums; colorful tree branches; berry stems, such as short crab apple or pomegranate; and similar items. If desired, tie a ribbon around the top of each jar and attach a small tag that describes the contents inside. Invite each of your guests as they leave to select a jar to take home as a memento of the day.

6) Welcome Wreath: Last but not least, consider purchasing or creating an autumn wreath for the front door. The wreath is a well-recognized symbol of hospitality and will suggest to your guests that there are good things to be found inside!

Gourd Designs by Maro are decoratively painted gourds that add autumn flair
wherever they are placed.

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