The pumpkins, pine cones, acorns, corn, leaves, and sticks that make fall décor so cozy and charming are close at hand and easy to work with -- just turn to the great outdoors for supplies and maybe Pinterest for a little inspiration. (Well, a few additional supplies may be needed: twine, a glue gun, and rakes and vases from the local thrift store could come in handy.) Here are some festive ideas to get started.
PINE CONE CLUSTERS
To make wall hangings or door décor, find a couple of clean and unbroken pine cones. Cut lengths of ribbon and use a glue gun to attach the end of each ribbon to the top of a pine cone. Gather up the other ends of the ribbons and tie them in a knot or bow for hanging over a nail on a wall or door.
BIRCH LOG CENTERPIECE
For a centerpiece, lay a big birch branch or log down the center of a table, preferably on a strip of burlap (brown paper also works). Collect other items such as pine cones, twigs, colorful leaves, acorns, mini pumpkins, and gourds, and arrange them along either side of the log so they cover the burlap. Smaller, loose items can be secured with a glue gun.
Start this project by picking up a short vase at a secondhand store. Hunt for some straight, slim sticks -- the kids can help -- and break them or use garden clippers to cut them to the height of the vase. Use a glue gun to affix the twigs to the outside of the vase. Continue all the way around until the vase is covered, then tie a piece of twine around the middle to make an attractive candleholder.
It's so simple: Fill a clear vase with corn kernels -- from a bag of unpopped popcorn, say -- and stick a candle in the kernels so it stands upright. Tie a simple piece of twine around the vase as a finishing touch. Go one more step and add tie a leaf into the twine, or get fancy and use a layer of corn kernels, a layer of dried beans, and a layer of dried green peas.
Perhaps the easiest fall decorating idea: Collect pine cones, acorns, twigs, some fall leaves, and the like and arrange them in a decorative bowl for a quick centerpiece or end table decoration.
All that's needed for this cheap decorating trick is acorns and craft paint. Cook the acorns on low heat in the oven for a few hours to dry them all the way out, then paint them with a brush in fall colors such as orange, yellow, red, and dark green. One coat should do the trick. (If the caps fall off, use a glue gun to stick them back on.) The painted acorns look great in a candy dish for an easy end table decoration.
A quick walk around the neighborhood might yield long sticks with a few leaves still on them, crabapple branches, pine tree branches, long decorative grasses, and even some late summer flowers such as sunflowers. Tie them together in a bunch with twine, cutting the stems at varying lengths, and stick them in a tall vase or vintage bucket. Don't worry if you don't find much. Even one long stick with a few crabapples on it looks elegant in a tall vase.
A drill, pumpkin, and fresh flowers can create a beautiful centerpiece. Cut the flower stems to about 3 inches, then drill holes in the pumpkin. Stick one flower in each hole until the pumpkin is covered -- a perfect centerpiece for a fall feast.
Instead of spending money on fall-scented candles, put apple slices, orange peels, and cinnamon sticks into a pot of water left lightly simmering on a back burner all day before a fall gathering. The house will smell amazing, matching the beautiful fall décor. Add more water when necessary to keep it going.
Find an old metal rake -- the kind that fans out -- and remove the handle. Use twine to secure twigs, leaves, vines, and dried flowers sparsely between the teeth and tie a bow at the bottom. Hang it from the front door or on a wall for easy fall décor.
Instead of carving pumpkins, paint them with craft paint and glitter. Add a spray of clear lacquer to keep the paint from running if the pumpkins will be kept outside in the elements.
Start this project by buying a big letter (perhaps the first letter of your last name) from a craft store. Use garden clippers to cut collected twigs to the same width, and use a glue gun to line the letter with twigs until completely covered. The handsome result is suited for a fall mantel or display.