50 Easy Fall Decorating Projects | Midwest Living

50 Easy Fall Decorating Projects

Decorate your home inside and outside with gourds, leaves, pumpkins, nuts and other seasonal materials for beautiful fall DIY displays.
  • Natural vases

    Gourds and squash come in all shapes and colors and easily become seasonal vases. Cut a hole big enough to accommodate a couple of florist tubes. Insert flower stems for a unique bud vase.

  • In the spotlight

    Squash, pumpkins and a twig of ginkgo leaves (inserted in a flower pick) on mounded moss command attention in this bell jar set atop a terra-cotta dish. Substitute a terrarium, large jar or even a glass cake cover, if desired. Arrange a few spillovers outside the glass for a touch of spontaneity. 

  • Corn husk projects

    Corn husk ideas

    A quick dip in fabric dye sets corn husks aglow in ruby, indigo and gold, leaving vibrant raw material for easy and long-lasting fall crafts. Click or tap here to see how to make candlestick collars, a wreath, napkin rings, plate chargers, husk flowers and a centerpiece.

  • Cozy glow

    Wrap glass votive holders in textural flair. Tie raffia around three or four overlapping moistened corn husks trimmed to fit. A spotted guinea fowl feather (available at crafts stores) adds a flourish. 

  • Leaf card art

    This display is a biology lesson and wall decor in one! Tape leaves to identification cards created with crafts store materials or printed from our free templates below. Then place them along a card-holder tree. 

  • Beyond mums

    If your go-to autumn bouquet defaults to traditional offerings, shake it up with a less-expected blend of veggies, fruits, berries and widely varied flowers. Small gourds, cabbage heads and pears (secured to thin dowels) add surprising flair. 

  • Fall glow

    Fall glow

    Turn wax paper and leaves into a pretty autumn lantern to use with a battery-powered votive.

    Cut waxed paper into four 5x12 pieces, then fold in half to 5x6 pieces. Put leaves (fresh, dried, faux or cut-out printed images) inside the folded waxed paper, then press with an iron on low heat to seal. Tape the sides together with decorative tape to make a lantern and place a battery-operated votive inside. (Waxed paper can burn, so be sure to use only battery-operated candles.) 


  • Setting the season

    Vibrant dahlias in carved-out mini pumpkins delight at place settings. We used a candle carver—a small tool that removes candle-size chunks from fruits and veggies. Insert a votive holder as the "vase" for water and blooms.

  • Rope in decor

    Replicate a chandelier with leaves instead of lights. Drill a 14-inch hole in each canning jar lid. Pull a separate piece of rope through each hole, then tie a knot under each lid. Place single leaves in jars, and tightly secure lids. Tie rope pieces together and hang from a heavy-duty ceiling hook.

  • Fall for gray

    Fall for gray

    Change up your fall color palette with shades of gray accenting greens and pinks. Here, a scooped-out white pumpkin holds pink dahlias and gray-green dusty miller. Pears add a bright pop of green.

  • Leaf bowls

    Leaf bowls

    Faux leaves become pretty lightweight bowls with just a little DIY time.

    Blow up a balloon (the larger the balloon, the larger your bowl will be) and rest in in a bowl. Cover the top of the balloon and the top sides of leaves with decoupage medium. Gently layer the leaves face down on the balloon, forming a bowl shape. Brush more decoupage medium on the backs of the leaves. Let dry, then poke a hole in the balloon and discard balloon.   


  • Rich reds

    Rich reds

    Emphasize the robust reds of fall with your choice of plants and flowers. Here, a dappled apple gourd, kale, dahlias, squash, and an oak branch form a color-saturated arrangement. Turn a gourd into a vase by scooping out the insides and adding a plastic cup for water.

  • Set a scene

    A stack of pumpkins and gourds in an unusual stone birdbath highlights an autumn scene. Mums, fall leaves and berries add even more color.

  • Harvest vases

    Add fall flavor to a tabletop or mantel with cylinder vases filled with nuts and wheat. Roll coordinating scrapbooking paper into decorative cuffs that slip inside the vase.

  • Simple leaves

    Highlight the beauty of fall leaves with this display.

    Put single leaves, either pressed or fresh, in small glass vases. We used old lab beakers—look for them at antiques stores. Replace leaves as they brown.

  • Crafty gourds

    Trade the usual fresh gourds for jewel-tone painted dried ones. Start with dried gourds in varying sizes. (If not available locally, try amishgourds.com.) For crisp lines, apply painter’s tape around the middle of a gourd. Paint half of the gourd with latex wall paint and remove tape when dry. For a drippy effect, pour 14 cup paint into a resealable plastic storage bag. Snip a corner to drizzle paint around the middle of a gourd (like piping frosting). Using a foam brush, carefully extend paint up from the drips, adding additional paint as necessary, to reach one end of the gourd. Pile painted gourds on a mantel or shelf or in decorative bowls.

  • Season's bounty

    Gourds in a variety of sizes, colors, shapes and textures fill a wooden tray, accented by flowers and berries. 

  • Leaf art

    Pressed leaves taped to crafting paper make for simple seasonal art. Hang a few rows with removable adhesive strips for high impact above a bed or sofa.

  • Orange-and-white centerpiece

    White pumpkins encircled by bittersweet vine and set along an orange table runner create a striking table arrangement. 

  • Monogrammed pumpkins

    Create a welcoming fall scene with personalized pumpkins. Etch your monogram into small, medium and large pumpkins, using different fonts and styles. (You can get a similar look with paint if you'd prefer not to etch.) Show off your pumpkins on an old chair or stool.

  • Bottle display

    Show off bittersweet berries in gold, green and clear bottles on a windowsill or shelf. Tiny gourds between the bottles add another shape to the seasonal mix.

  • Floating display

    Clear glass containers highlight the seasonal beauty of smooth pumpkins and frilly flowers in this unusual--and ultra quick--display.

    Fill an assortment of glasses with water and float mini pumpkins along with Teddy Bear sunflowers or other autumn blooms.

  • Hanging vase

    A swan gourd makes a natural vase hanging from a front gate or porch railing. Cut a hole near the gourd's neck, then hollow out enough space for fall flowers: mums, black-eyed Susans, Virginia creeper or other favorites.

  • Creative candleholders

    Use repurposed candleholders for easy fall displays of small pumpkins and gourds. Look for inexpensive candleholders in varying heights at a garage sale or antiques store, then spray-paint black for a unified look.

  • Leafy display

    While the trees may be dropping leaves outdoors, you can preserve them inside on this tree -- perfect for an entry display or party centerpiece.

    Anchor a branch (we used manzanita from a floral shop) in a decorative pot with floral foam or rocks, then cover the top with moss. Decoupage color copies of gathered leaves onto small cards or hot-glue pressed leaves to cards. Tie to branches with twine or raffia. Add lines of favorite seasonal poems to the back, if you like.

  • Leafy banner

    Tissue paper and twigs make a pretty, leafy garland to drape in front of a window. Trace leaf shapes onto heavy cardstock to create templates. Cut out and trace shapes onto colored tissue paper, then cut out the leaves. Glue small twigs on the leaves to look like veins; glue or tape finished leaves onto a thin strip of twine. Hang in a sunny place! 

  • Mantel of gourds

    Use as many gourds as you'd like to create this simple mantel decoration. We mixed two larger hard-shell gourds with smaller soft-shell gourds (and tucked in a squash for good measure). Bittersweet branches and maple leaves provide extra color and texture.

  • Bountiful wheelbarrow

    Put together a colorful outdoor fall display using a sturdy wheelbarrow as a base.

    Our wheelbarrow overflows with ornamental cabbage and peppers, ornamental grasses, chrysanthemums and other seasonal plants. Fill the wheelbarrow with soil and insert the plants loosely, or tuck containers into the wheelbarrow, making sure to fill in the gaps with more plants.

  • Golden glow

    Clear glass containers show off both candlelight as well as colorful materials. 

    Nestle a candle in popcorn kernels or other seasonal materials, such as candy corn or colored clear round stones (available in crafts stores). If you prefer, use a battery-powered candle for safety.

  • Gourd beauty

    Unusual combinations of pedestals and gourds make an easy and novel centerpiece.

    White gourds look like miniature sculptures when placed on pieces of old table legs and balusters. Other items to try as pedestals: upside-down bowls, old candlesticks, decorative nesting boxes, Mason jars--use your imagination!

  • Highlight nature

    Create simple but striking arrangements with autumn beauties. Try cattails, ornamental grasses, coneflower seed heads or dried hydrangea blooms.

  • Celebrate fall colors

    Create this beautiful fall wreath with a variety of materials that reflect autumn's hues: gold, red, orange and brown.

    Both your yard and a crafts store should provide a bounty of choices. A mix of fresh and dried materials looks lovely, but a wreath of all dried materials lasts longer.

    Lightly soak a 10- or 12-inch ring of Oasis floral foam in water. Group your materials by color to plan each section of the wreath, then insert materials by the stems. We used tree leaves and fresh mums for red and orange bands of color, tree leaves and dried yarrow for gold, and dried oak leaves and pinecones for brown. Hot glue or T-pins help hold materials in place.

  • Staircase decor

    Bring waves of grain to your staircase with bundles of ornamental grasses, available fresh at some flower shops and dried at many crafts stores. Bunch one or more types of grasses or wheat and secure with a rubber band. Tie to every other baluster with raffia.

  • Eerie entry

    Greet your guests with ghostly gourds this season, cleverly decorating your stoop to show your holiday spirit.

    Just a little paint will transform fall produce into eerie apparitions. Start by covering your gourd with acrylic spray varnish. Use acrylic crafts paints to create your design. Finish with another coat of spray varnish.

    To hang each gourd, drill a small hole through the top of the neck and thread florist's wire through it. Finish your display with dried vines, bittersweet berries and maybe even an abandoned paper-wasp nest.

  • Gourd grouping

    Gourd grouping

    A grapevine wreath elevates a mound of striped gourds and pumpkins in a fall display it takes only minutes to assemble.

  • Collector's Paradise

    Collector's showcase

    A vintage tacklebox becomes a unique autumn display when filled with collected tree parts: bark, berries, seedpods, cones, small branches and leaves.

  • Lantern glow

    This simple arrangement of pumpkins around a lantern adds a stylish, seasonal touch to an entryway. Use a battery-powered candle if the lantern will be unattended.

  • A picture of fall

    For an easy mantel display, combine brightly colored fall leaves with an empty picture frame.

    Hang leaves on S-hooks (used for jewelry making and found at crafts stores) or pin to a ribbon. Put nails in both sides of a colorful frame and suspend the ribbon loosely across the center, tying it to the nails. Add to the display by spreading a branch full of brightly colored berries across the length of the mantel and setting small gourds on top of egg cups.

  • Sunburst wreath

    Mimic a blazing sunburst with this fall wreath. Fold out the husks on ears of Indian corn so they point straight out from the tops. Hot-glue the ears to a straw wreath, and "fluff" the husks to complete the look.

  • Pumpkin color

    Fresh fall branches and Jack-Be-Little pumpkins in the bottom of tall glass vases showcase a pumpkin color scheme. Twine passed through holes drilled in Sweetie Pies lets these smaller pumpkins hang from a chandelier.

  • Pumpkin lights

    Light up the fall evenings with pumpkin candleholders. In the top of a miniature pumkin, carve a small hole wide and deep enough to hold a votive candle. For a rustic look, display your creation in a wire jar holder. 

  • Walnut photo holder

    Give nature photos, family pics or place cards a seasonal lift. Drill a small hole in the top of a walnut. (Pick nuts with flatter bottoms so they stand up easily.) Cut a 6-inch piece of 18-gauge wire. Wrap one end of the wire twice around a wide marker. Remove the marker, and pinch the loops together. Insert the other end into the nut. Slip a photo or card between the loops.

  • Branches and fruits

    Snips of fall branches make easy—and inexpensive—arrangements.

    Look for interesting shapes with leaves, acorns or berries. Add fruit such as lemons in the base of your container for both color and stability.

  • Harvest centerpiece

    A short branch makes a striking centerpiece for an autumn party.

    Weight a pot with stones and fill with florist's foam to secure the branch, then wrap the pot in a drawstring jute bag. Pair the arrangement with flowers and plants in leaf-inspired colors—we used roses, millet, kale, leaves and berries.

  • Two shades of gold

    A wheat wreath reflects your Midwest heritage. Insert dried sheaves into a foam wreath form, then dress up your wreath by slipping the stems of golden maple leaves into the spaces between wheat heads. Use leaves sparingly for the best effect.

  • Keyed pumpkins

    Use antique keys (secured with long straight pins) to create seasonal messages, such as fall or eek, on your pumpkins for an easy DIY fall decoration.

  • Seasonal Abundance

    Seasonal abundance

    Use your backyard as inspiration for fall decorations. Press fallen leaves between the pages of a thick book to preserve their forms, then display autumn hues in a cigar box or in birch frames. 

  • Fall garland

    Drape this garland indoors or out. Twist eye hooks into the tops of corn cobs, then string the corn along a piece of sturdy twine, alternating cobs with husks looped over the twine and glued together.

  • Nature's artistry wreath

    Embellish a square store-bought magnolia wreath with color-coordinated real and faux materials, including twigs, seedpods, nuts, berries, wheat and leaves.

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