Fall is my favorite season. The smells. The foods. The colors. It’s also one of the easiest seasons to decorate for without spending a lot of money or putting in too much effort, and a little bit goes a long way. Often, you can decorate with things you already have around the house. Here are a few of my favorite ideas.
Free and inexpensive ways to decorate for fall:
- Go with natural items. I’ll start with the obvious because it’s easy and classic. Set some pumpkins or gourds on your porch. Place a pretty bowl or glass vase full of mini gourds and pumpkins on your dining room table. Hang some Indian corn from your front door. You can buy these at any grocery store or local farm, or with some advance planning and effort in the garden, you could try growing pumpkins and gourds yourself.
- Plant flowers. Mums say “fall” and I love how colorful they are, and they are cool-weather plants that can withstand the first few light frosts. Mums are perennials and will grow back every year as long as the neighborhood rabbits don’t eat them. I plant mine in large pots so the rabbits can’t easily get to them, and as a result the mums I currently have are a couple of years old, so I don’t even have to buy them every year. Pansies also like the cooler fall temperatures, but they are annuals and won’t grow back next year. Plant mums or pansies in pots on your porch or patio and place a few pumpkins next to the pots for instant fall decorating success, or plant the flowers directly in the ground.
- Set out children’s fall-themed books. Raid your children’s shelves for books like The Little Old Woman Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, Five Little Pumpkins, Click Clack Boo, There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves, We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt, or When the Leaf Blew In. If you don’t own any fall books, check some out from your library for free. Fan a few of them across your coffee table or place them in a pretty basket where they will make instant decor and fun entertainment.
- Set out magazines. Similar to the children’s book trick, you can also place a few current copies of magazines like Woman’s Day or Better Homes and Gardens on your coffee table or in a decorative basket. My mother-in law declares magazines offer instant seasonal decor year-round because of the colorful cover photos that match the season, with fall covers commonly featuring pumpkins, pies, apples, and more. Plus, you get the benefit of actually reading the magazines. Pass your magazines to a friend when you’re done, or put them in your recycling bin.
- Fill a dish, bowl, small basket, or small tray with fall-flavored individually packaged tea bags. Every fall, I look forward to when local grocery stores stock seasonal tea flavors. I can count on a local upscale grocery store to stock it, but I’ve also found seasonally flavored tea at Walmart. I drink tea year-round, but there’s something special about drinking Bigelow Salted Caramel or Apple Cider tea on a crisp morning. Individually wrapped tea bags usually have colorful packaging, which makes them ideal for understated, classy decorating. Place your bowl of tea bags on your kitchen counter or next to your stove near the kettle for easy tea making.
- Set up your kids’ toys. This is not for everyone, but if you have any holiday Little People sets, arrange them neatly on the coffee table, shelf, or hutch, or as part of a centerpiece for a dinner gathering. My family began collecting Little People sets when our girls were tiny, and at ages 5 and 9, the kids still play a lot with our Little People sets. We have a Halloween play set and a Thanksgiving play set, and they’re super cute. (We also have multiple Christmas sets that will come out in a few months.) You accomplish two things at once because you’re setting out toys AND decorations. Even if your kids are too old to play with them anymore, these make fun decorations. In fact, they might make better decorations if your kids are older because they won’t get played with and dumped on the floor or scattered across the house, and you can look at the play sets and feel nostalgic about the time when your kids were little and still played with them.
- Display your kids’ artwork. You can decorate with whatever fall art projects your kids bring home from school, or you can draw or paint simple tree trunks on large pieces of white paper, and have your kids make hand print or thumb print “leaves” using orange, red, and yellow paint. Visit this link to see lots of ideas with photos. Pop the artwork into simple frames (go the the thrift store or dollar store if you don’t already have some) and hang on a wall to make them look more purposeful, formal, or eye-catching. If you display kids’ art in frames, change out the art when the seasons change.
- Burn candles. Nothing smells better than a classic apple cinnamon candle. Buy candles at the dollar store, or if you have an Aldi nearby, look for them during fall as a limited-time Special Buy (ALDI Find).
- Simmer homemade potpourri on the stove top. So this isn’t about decorating so much, but it is a way to give your home that fall atmosphere. Here’s a great recipe. Place a sliced apple, a sliced orange, 2 to 3 cinnamon sticks, a tablespoon of cloves, two whole nutmegs cut in half (or use powdered), and a teaspoon of vanilla in a medium-sized saucepan. Add enough water to cover the ingredients and simmer uncovered on low heat. You’ll have to add extra water over time, and I recommend setting a timer for about 30 minutes to remind you to either add water or turn off the stove. You don’t want your saucepan to boil dry.
- Fill a pretty bowl with candy corn or candy pumpkins, if you dare. It’s great when you can eat your decorations. I personally try to avoid decorating like this because I give in to temptation too easily. If you’re a stronger person than me, I recommend placing your candy bowl in a prominent spot as a centerpiece on your dining room table, kitchen table, counter, or coffee table where family members and guests can enjoy it. Here are some examples of fancier candy centerpieces that also use battery-operated candles and ribbons.
- Visit the dollar store. I specifically like Dollar General, which I fondly refer to as a poor man’s Target. It has lovely home decor items year-round, ranging from summer garden decor to Christmas and Easter items. I picked up a cute set of owl place mats for fall a few years ago for about $2.50 a mat. I get lots of compliments on them, they didn’t cost much, and they wash up nicely when my kids spill tomato soup on them.
- Go thrifting. Garage sale season is still going on in September, and a few brave souls even hold sales into October. These are fantastic places to get decor, sometimes for as little as 25 cents. If you don’t like driving all over town to find garage sales, visit your local thrift store. It is sure to have a few seasonal knick knacks. Just don’t go overboard buying stuff that will only clutter your home. You only need a few well-chosen items to get your home in the fall spirit.
What are your favorite ways to decorate for fall?