Creating beautiful fall decorations in your home doesn’t have to hurt the environment.
When the weather changes, it’s time to decorate. At least, that’s the general feeling when the air goes from balmy to chilly in the evenings and the fringes of the cold and frost in the mornings don’t go unnoticed. Or when the nights become longer and cinnamon is commonplace in hot drinks. Decorating in the fall is a way to welcome a new chapter as kids go back to school and you spend more time indoors.
Using the outdoors as your inspiration is also a way to create cosiness and mark the passing of time through a gentle and homey feeling. You don’t need to spend lots of money to change your home when you use what you have. It’s also much better for the environment. Americans throw away 25% more from the Thanksgiving to New Years season. You certainly don’t have to jeopardize the environment to decorate your home.
When the seasons change, think about what you can use around you to decorate. Most of the time, these items are free. Here are some ideas of what you can do to bring the outside in, with three projects to ignite your autumn creativity.
Materials to collect in the Autumn:
Orange and red leaves
Acorns or other pods and seeds
Late summer flowers
Stones, crystals, interesting rocks
Apples (either picked yourself or bought at the store)
Project 1: Pressed leaves and botanicals
What you’ll need:
A collection of leaves and late summer flowers, freshly picked
Several heavy books
Wax paper or parchment paper
- Fiery-red and pumpkin-orange leaves preserve beautifully when pressed between the pages of a book. Start by carefully flattening out any curled edges to your leaves or flowers.
- Measure the page size in one of the books that you chose. Use the page as a guide for cutting the size of your parchment or wax paper. Cut two sheets to this size. Open the book flat and place one parchment sheet down so it sits directly on top of the book page.
- Lay the leaves, flowers, grasses or other flat botanicals carefully across the paper-covered page. Be sure not to overlap these, as they won’t dry properly.
- Cover the leaves and flowers with the other sheet of parchment so that they are sandwiched between the two pieces. Gently close the book.
- Place several heavy books or objects on top of the book containing the leaves. Let sit for at least a week, preferably two, before checking. When they are done, the leaves and flowers should be dry and flat.
You can frame your leaves or used them to make a garland. If you’re feeling very adventurous, use your pressed flowers to make paper or gift tags.
Project 2: Pine cone fire starters
As it gets colder, it’s time for s’mores around the campfire. Instead of buying fire starters from the shop, why not make your own out of things that you already have? It’s eco-friendly and lighter on your wallet.
What you’ll need:
Pine cones in various shapes and sizes that have been dried out
Beeswax or used candle wax
A lined baking tray
- Start by melting your wax in a double boiler over medium heat. A double boiler can be created by placing a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. You can melt the ends down of old candles, or use any other types of wax that you already have. Scented or unscented is fine.
- Once the wax has completely melted, carefully dip half of each pine cone in the wax and place on a lined baking tray. Let them cool for at least an hour
Use these as you would any type of fire starter. Place them along with kindling, wood, and coals and light first.
Project 3: Scented apple potpourri
Make your own home scent with natural ingredients.
What you’ll need:
3 large fresh apples
5–6 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup whole cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
Decorative bowls, jars, or containers for displaying
- Thinly slice each apple into rounds. Use a mandoline to do this if you have one. Don’t worry about picking out the seeds or stem.
- Preheat the oven to 145 F and place apples flat on baking sheets, careful not to overlap. Dry in the oven for about 10 hours, checking carefully every few hours. Alternatively, place in a food dehydrator for 10–12 hours.
- When the apples are dried out and cooled, place in a large bowl and toss together the ground allspice and cinnamon until everything is coated well.
- Add the cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Find a decorative bowl or container to put your potpourri in. Enjoy the wonderful fall scent!