How to Decorate for Fall

Wuh oh.

Last night, after the kids were safe all snug in their beds (and also a teeny, tiny bit before they were in bed — just five more minutes, kids), I spent too much time online looking at GORGEOUS pictures of tables and porches and mantles decorated for fall, fall, fall.

There were bundles of wheat and stalks of corn, bales of hay and…

…oh, the pumpkins. The pumpkins! The pumpkins, y’all, that come in huge and tiny, and orange and white, and even velvet and silver. They were, all of them, magnificent. And the fall leaf banners? Simple yet splendid, an easy way to make my house match the pictures and to eke out a bit of the peace I see there.

Yep; it was bedtime last night, but I was ready to marshal the troops.

Rise and gather leaves! I thought.

We must press them and hang them with miniature clothespins and twine.

There is no time to lose, I said in my head, because fall is falling fast, and if we do not finish our leaf-gathering in time, kids

And then I stopped short, because… well, nothing. If we don’t leaf-gather, then we’ll have no flat leaves, I concluded. The end.

Although it was stunningly anti-climactic, it didn’t seem like the end of the world, and it suddenly occurred to me — again — that I needn’t so readily hand my sense of self over to the power of decorative pumpkins.

Now, decorative pumpkins will happen at my house. They do every year when I arrive at the magical intersection of my deep pumpkin need and the store’s on-sale price. And the flat leaves may happen, too, if the compulsion to gather hits me during daylight as I drive my hip minivan full of kids past a particularly bountiful sunset maple. I’m neither anti-pumpkin nor anti-leaf.

In the meantime, though, my table is plain and my mantle is bare. My front porch is swept (something of a fall miracle), but that’s all; we’ve put away exactly none of the summer toys or tools that litter the backyard, and the neon, blow-up waterslide is particularly lovely, covered as it is in gummy, nearly dry cherries and brittle, decaying fall leaves.

Fall is here anyway, since seasons so rarely wait for me to be ready. Fall’s here, and I love it, despite my lack of preparation.

Last night, I laid awake after my online binge and I considered whether I felt less-than for neglecting fall decorating. Nope, I discovered. I’m fineFall decorating will come in its own time. Or it won’t, and if it doesn’t then I won’t have any. Which felt like a profound antidote for our less-than feelings in our more-than world.

In the meantime…

In the meantime, I’ll decorate my house with the wind.

I’ll decorate my house with the young-boy wind — the wild one who runs too fast down the mountain and whoops too loud and plays too hard. The one who terrifies the trees, throws sticks at my windows, and kicks plastic toys around the yard.

And I’ll decorate my house with the old-woman wind — the one who’s gentle and kind and puts me to sleep while she quietly goes about her business.

I’ll decorate my house with the moon that’s too bright on these clear nights as I lay with the littles in my bed.

And I’ll decorate with the sun that speaks of summer that’s gone and makes me glad for the respite that I always pretend fall will bring.

Most of all, I’ll decorate with the breath of my babies. With the breath of the littles who snore and snuggle and sigh as they sleep and who MomMomMommyMom and He hit me! when they’re wake.

And I’ll decorate with the breath of my biggest who begs her daddy every night to carry her to bed… and with the breath of my husband who pauses his show and says, She’s fourteen, and she still wants me to tuck her in; I’ll never say no.

I’ll decorate, finally, with a cup of warm milk and a tablespoon of brown sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon, whisked on the stove ’til it’s frothy and hot.

The wind, the moon, the sun, the breath of my people, and a mug of warm milk. Decorations enough for now.

What are yours?



Don’t miss a post. Subscribe here

40 responses to “How to Decorate for Fall”

  1. My fall decor is simple. I do have a lot of energy in the spring here in southern WI, and plant lots of pretty planters full of flowers. They are now HUGE AND DYING! I have not had the energy to water them in a while….so they look a little hayish, brownish, and I am pretending the completely dead ones are for Halloween!

  2. My front porch is decorated with chicken poop. I’ve noticed that it lasts through every season! Oh, and don’t forget the two quads (farming quads)…..mine has a flat tire….I am satisfied……Happy Fall.

  3. “Fall is here anyway, since seasons so rarely wait for me to be ready”. That is so beautiful – and apt. Thanks!

  4. I don’t decorate for fall. Ever. I live in southern California. It is never fall here. We carve pumpkins on Halloween (or the day after, or the week after).

    I also have five kids. So my house and yard sound like yours. We can make our own Pinterest page dedicated to the real houses of people with five kids.

  5. My house is filled with all of our stuff, and I’m mourning because as of November 1 we will not live here anymore :(. We are a military family, and we are Texan by birth. We have been blessed to be here in Texas the last 4.5 years.
    No time for seasonal fall decor here, just the soon appearance of boxes and movers, and having to move and start over. I’m having a hard time parting with my on-post quarters and it’s beautiful 1940’s wood floor, the creaky stairs, the memories of becoming a mom here(twice), and everything wonderful that the last 4.5 years has brought!
    We do have a nice “Farmer’s Market” scented Yankee Candle, and the windows have been open to let in the fall air, but no leaves, pumpkins, or burlap (although I LOVE that style). Just enjoying our last month in our home in Texas before we head to Arizona. Breathing in our last Texas air for a while, but I know God has something beautiful in store for us!
    Thanks for sharing, Beth!

  6. I love your descriptions. My decorations are an assortment of pine cones, acorns, leaves of assorted colors, a hawk feather, and a peacock feather that my girls have collected on walks this last week. None are ordered, but strewn haphazardly wherever the young treasure hunter spied a bare flat spot to claim for her prize. My front porch is decorated with the most natural looking spider webs that you’ve ever seen because my littlest begged me to let her friends stay until Halloween. Perhaps my decorations don’t appeal to all, but those who love us come anyway. :o)

  7. I love the way you decorate Beth. My house currently is decorated with the smell of the tomatoes we are canning and the gingersnaps my kids inhale. I love fall…..and winter and spring and summer!

  8. Decorating the mantle you say? I just noticed mine still has an Easter tree, the Happy Spring bunny, a jellybean pooping reindeer from somebody’s Christmas stocking (last Christmas) assorted cards from birthdays, anniversary, and Mother’s Day, a miniature Statue of Liberty and copy of the Declaration of Independence (from Victoria’s spring break trip) several candles, some artwork and school projects a copy of last year’s yearbook, a couple of toys, and a couple of pictures–one in a frame from this summer’s VBS. Clearly, I have work to do to acheive a BARE mantle, let alone an organized, decorated one! Schadenfreude, anyone?

  9. I was just thinking it was time to get out the cheap little scarecrow that looks more raggedy every year, and the glass pumpkin that I fill with the halloween candy that I like. The scarecrow may last the season, but the candy in fall colored wrappers sure doesn’t! But then, there are all those artificial colored leaves (already pressed flat!), etc….But I really can’t do any of it while it still is gorgeous summer weather outside!

    • Mmm… Halloween candy. I’m holding off buying those hideous mallow pumpkins as long as possible because I WILL EAT THEM ALL. The shame. 😉 Maybe your scarecrow would be better off at my house, guarding the candy basket.

  10. Right now, my fall decorations are discarded tissues, a nebulizer, bottles of various prescription and non-prescription medicines…. plus the perpetual coating of dog hair…. I like your festive descriptions better!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.