If you want to skip the life-sized scarecrows and Technicolor plastic wreaths this Thanksgiving and keep your decorations subtle and simple, turn to nature for a harvest of ideas that will bring the spirit of the season into your home without assaulting your eyes, nose or budget.
Candles are a must-have for the fall and winter holidays. Next to a wood-burning fireplace, nothing imparts that cheery glow of home and hearth like an arrangement of flickering candles. Instead of the strongly scented and brightly colored candles that are typical during this time of year, choose beeswax candles in natural shades of deep gold and amber. The light pleasant scent of beeswax won’t compete with food aromas; in fact, it will add the enticing scent of honey to your harvest table when used in a centerpiece.
Place a trio of beeswax candles on an earthen platter and surround them with acorns, nuts, twigs, stones and other seasonal treasures you might find in your yard or on an early morning walk. As always, use caution when burning candles; some of the suggested decorative items are flammable.
A bountiful arrangement of gourds, apples or fall squash says “Thanksgiving” without going overboard. Use one as a centerpiece for the dining table or as a warm welcome on an occasional table in the foyer. To create a true cornucopia while keeping the design subtle, choose only one color and select items that fit that theme. For example, a basket of red apples, pomegranates, red pears and dried chilies will have textural interest and a variety of red hues while remaining understated.
Choose long-lasting items that don’t require refrigeration and arrange them in a traditional cornucopia-shaped basket or place them in a large shallow bowl, letting some of the items spill over the edge or scatter on the table outside of the bowl.
Flowers are appropriate decorations for every holiday. They can be bright and fill the room with a sweet scent, but they don’t have to. You can select fresh flowers in a subtle color palette or choose dried flowers that are naturally muted and have little or no scent at all. Arrange flowers in baskets, pottery vases in fall hues or simple glass vases. A generous bundle of dried fall ornamental grasses, cat tails or wheat placed casually in a glass jar evokes thoughts of harvest in a gentle but straightforward way.
We often think of Thanksgivings gone by as simpler times when people were more grateful for the things money couldn’t buy: health, family and a table laden with delicious food. You can decorate your home in homage to the past by displaying your favorite vintage dishes; simple items like tin platters, antique canning jars, copper molds or plain glass bowls. Spread the containers throughout the house in groupings and singly. Fill them with nuts, ears of colorful dried corn, acorns, fall leaves, gourds and flowers to create the look of simple abundance throughout your home. Include photos of your family and friends in vintage frames to complete the look and remind everyone, including you, what the season is all about.