Celebrate Fall with These Decorating Ideas That Don't Require Shopping

Today it's 113° F (that's 45° C) – the hottest day we've had this summer.

It's also September, and FALL IS COMING!  Changing leaves and that invigorating nip in the air are still a long way off, but fall is coming.

As a self-confessed hot weather-hater, I really need some inspiration and reminders that summer doesn't last forever, so I wanted to add some fall touches to my house.  Special requirements:

  • No clutter. 
  • No shopping for things that aren't allowed during my Buy Nothing Year.

Sounds like a fun challenge, doesn't it?


8 no-buy and low-cost ideas for fall décor

1.  Pumpkins

The first pumpkins are arriving in the grocery store, and I can shop for groceries!  I bought several large pumpkins for my entry area, and a bunch of mini pumpkins to put in a large woven basket I already own.  Instant coffee table décor.

2.  Twigs

I found some long twigs (18"-24") on the ground, trimmed them a bit, and put them in one of my blue and white pitchers.  With the pitcher of twigs, a few more pumpkins, and some battery-powered candles* from my Christmas box, I made a display for my sideboard.

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3.  Paper leaves

I found printable leaf templates and made a bunch of paper leaves.  (Thank you Debbie Chapman, author of Low-Mess Crafts for Kids.)  I used pages from a proof copy of one of my own books (ordered for proofreading purposes; not resalable) plus some fall-toned scrapbook paper from my craft box for the project.  

After crumpling the edges a bit for a more realistic effect, I used double-sided tape to make a garland.  It's draped around the large painting over my couch.  A few smaller leaves are tied to twigs in my blue and white pitcher.

4.  Apples

New crop apples are arriving!  I have a beautiful green leaf-shaped bowl my daughter gave me a few years ago, and I simply filled it with an array of fresh apples.  It's sitting on my kitchen counter emitting delightful color and aroma.

5.  Pillows

The toss pillows on my navy couch are apple green with ivory embroidery.  The toss pillows on my bed are brown and cream paisley.  I swapped them to bring more fall color into the living room.

6.  Notes

I always have plain 3x5 index cards around – I use them for lists and reminder notes to myself or my husband.  With calligraphy skills I learned in high school, I used black and gold gel pens to write "Thankful," "Autumn," and "Harvest" on three separate cards, which I tucked into the wrought iron frame of a mirror in my living room.

7.  Photos

I used my phone to take pictures of some old photos (preserved in a scrapbook) of my kids playing in fall leaves, printed them, and put them in photo frames on my bookshelf (they temporarily cover other photos I usually display).  Instant nostalgia.

8.  Slow cooker potpourri

I prepared my favorite cozy concoction** using fresh grocery store ingredients.  It made my house smell spicy and fall-like without adding more heat to the room.

I'm a little more hopeful, in spite of the heat wave, because FALL IS COMING.  I can't feel it, but I can see (and smell) the hints I've placed around my house.  That's a great reason to take a bit of time to decorate for the new season.

** By the way, my Cozy Slow Cooker Potpourri recipe is included in the revised and expanded 3rd edition of A Minimalist Holiday: Simplify Your Celebration for More Meaning and Joy.  


  1. My mom always pressed beautiful fall leaves in books, and then ironed them between sheets of waxed paper. She'd then hang these leaf sheets in windows -- really beautiful with the light filtering through the waxed paper. In fact, one year when I was living overseas in a treeless country, she mailed me several of these pressed leaf sheets -- I hung them in my window and was immediately cheered.

    1. Sounds beautiful! And how lovely of her to mail you some "trees" when you probably needed to see them!

  2. I like this approach of using items from nature to mark the seasons and special days and avoiding the accumulation and storage of holiday specific items.


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