When I walked into Starbucks on November 1, I was greeted–and horrified–by the towering stack of red holiday cups at the register. My inbox has been overflowing with Christmas-sale newsletters and other such motivation to look forward to the December festivities now upon us. And while we here in New York were even treated to our first snowflakes Tuesday morning, the fact is that we still have two and a half weeks until December 1, even longer before the official winter solstice. So before you succumb to the commercial Higher Powers and break out your garland and twinkle lights, consider decorating your home with autumnal splendor from nature herself. These projects can of course be displayed all year round, if you’re someone like me who savors the crunch of leaves underfoot and the smell of fireplaces.
1. Pressed Flowers and Leaves: You may recall this craft from elementary school, but drying and pressing plants is an easy and personalized way to preserve elements of nature long after their expiration date. Simply take the blossoms or leaves of your choosing before they’ve dried out (which will cause them to break or crumble) and place them between pieces of clean white paper. Intersperse them between a stack of heavy books and leave them to dry for about a week. When they are dry and totally flat, arrange them on a piece of matte for framing or any display of your choosing.
Not only is this good for your favorite type of flower that might appear only during certain times of year, or a particularly colorful leaf you find on a walk, but it’s also a unique way to preserve the memory of a special time or place. These leaves are from trips I took to Maine and my sister’s college campus in Virginia, and seeing them on display all year brings me back to those special moments while adding warmth and color to my beige walls.
Try mixing different kinds and colors of leaves, or flowers and leaves together, to match your decor or for a unique aesthetic.
2. Branches and Twigs: Typically, when you say vase you think flowers, right? But consider their woody appendage cousins, which can make an equally elegant arrangement on your table–and also require no maintenance. Choose twigs that are sturdy and gnarly for more character, or thinner ones for a more ephemeral look. When bunched together in a tall, clear vase for adequate support and/or tied together with a ribbon, this adds drama and height to an unused corner of a room, shelf, or side table. I like this especially as an alternative centerpiece on a holiday dining table, for it creates a rustic and intimate atmosphere of a woodland picnic. If you’re looking to add scent, dry lavender or eucalyptus branches are great musty complements.
3. Pine cones and Acorns: Group a mix of these ornament-like seeds together in a large clear bowl, vase, or mercury jar for a visually and texturally dynamic presentation. You can play with layering or a truly unstructured look, or make smaller, separate vessels to display together at different heights. To add some pizzazz, use paint (spray or acrylic; metallic hues are lovely), or glitter (spray or loose).
All of these materials, usually artificial and thus eternal, can be purchased at craft and home good stores. But it’s more fun (and free!) to spend an afternoon at your local park or in your backyard collecting. It’s an especially engaging activity for children–or for the inner child in all of us.
More in Home: Feng Shui for Happiness and Health
Home is Where Your Heart Is: How to Make Your Space Greener
Also by Jennifer: The Rainbow Connection – Your Chakra System and You – Part IV
Photo: Jennifer Kurdyla