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Autumn Table Decorations--Capture Seasonal Colors With a Brightly-Hued Centerpiece

Updated on February 10, 2017
Athlyn Green profile image

Athlyn Green lives on an acreage and enjoys the flowers, plants, and bushes therein.

Bring Autumn Beauty Inside for an End-of-Season Display

Huge late flowers are surrounded by brightly-colored leaves, pine cones, and assorted nuts.
Huge late flowers are surrounded by brightly-colored leaves, pine cones, and assorted nuts. | Source

A Fall Family Project

Autumn table decorations are just the thing to capture the beauty of the fall season and bring a little of it indoors. Creativity can "bloom" with seasonal offerings to grace your table.

A fall table centerpiece, created from materials picked from the late garden or surrounding countryside, adds a welcome display of color as days become shorter and the weather turns colder. What a way to brighten up your living space.

Gathering leaves, nuts, berries & fall flowers and arranging them as decorations for the table is a reminder that the season offers a bounty of food for both animals and humans, along with a tapestry of bright hues. By going on a "treasure hunt" you get to capture these offerings and bring some of that lovely bright color and texture indoors to enjoy before the snow falls.

This a good way to get some fresh air and exercise. Why not set aside an afternoon. Pack a picnic basket, fill a thermos, grab a blanket and head out. You'll also want to bring along large bags, baskets or buckets to collect items for your autumn decor project.

You may find this undertaking so enjoyable, it becomes a yearly tradition. It's a great way to get kids involved and helps stir their interest in nature and in the different plants, nuts, and berries they find. When you come home, you can encourage them to identify the materials you've gathered.

Best of all, it costs absolutely nothing and you will be rewarded with a feast for the eyes, so important as days become shorter and skies duller.

This article will discuss ideas for making an Autumn-themed centerpiece from various materials and using different containers and I provide instructions for how to do a platter arrangement, as seen in the photos at the top and bottom of this hub. I hope that by the time you finish reading, you will feel inspired to try your own seasonal arrangement.

Heading Out

Slip on some boots and head out into the great outdoors to see what treats Mother Nature has on offer.
Slip on some boots and head out into the great outdoors to see what treats Mother Nature has on offer.

Gathering the Forest's Bounty: It's There, Waiting for You

Hands holding green and mature acorns.
Hands holding green and mature acorns.

Are You Planning a Taller or Shorter Arrangement?

It helps to have the type of arrangement in mind before gathering your materials, so you choose the right sizes and shapes, but certainly, you may choose to gather whatever you can find in your area and use what is available to create your centerpiece.

Pine Cones
Pine Cones
Virginia Creeper
Virginia Creeper

What Materials Can Be Collected for Autumn Table Decorations?

There's a surprising mix of material that can be gathered in fall. The list below should help give you a general idea before heading out. Keep an eye out for the following items.


Acorns are one of the "cuter" nuts with their little hats and they can add a nice visual element to a centerpiece.


White, orange or red berries can add a colorful touch to any decoration. When choosing berries, pick the harder variety. Mountain Ash provides lots of firmer berries.


Who doesn't love cattails? With their rich brown color and unique shape, they have long held appeal. These may not be as easy to pick, though, because they grow in marshy areas. Caution is needed. Fortunately, once picked, they keep for some time.


Like pine cones, chestnuts are a rich brown color and as such are suited to adding to autumn arrangements. They can be tucked into a lower or wider centerpiece.


Small ornamental gourds make excellent additions to autumn centerpieces because they come in such an interesting array of colors and exotic shapes. Shenot, Crown of Thorns, Hedgehog, or pear bi-color gourds are good choices. With their intriguing shapes and bumps, they add both color and texture.


No fall arrangement would be complete without leaves. Try for a variety of different-colored and different-shaped leaves. Oak leaves have lovely contours.


The forest floor offers up different nuts and these can add an interesting texture to any arrangement.

Pine cones

Pine cones, both larger and smaller, add color and texture.


Depending on your arrangement, smaller pumpkin varieties such as Jack be Little or Munchkin pumpkins may also be added for visual appeal.

Rose Hips

Rose hips are a good choice for both their firmness and their color.

Trailing vines

Virginia creeper is a good choice because it turns a lovely red color in fall. You might also opt to add any longer curling vine, such as any available ivy.

Autumn Leaves

Picked Dry, Then Sorted

All items should be picked when dry for use in fall table centerpieces. Once gathered, leaves and other materials should be sorted to choose the best specimens.


corn stalks
dried hydrangeas
Indian corn
evergreen fronds
seed pods
pampas grass
horn of plenty

Asters, Mums, and More

Fall Flowers

Don't forget fall flowers. These can add some lovely hues and some softer edges, as well.

  • anise hyssop
  • asters
  • black-eyed Susan
  • blanket flower
  • chrysanthemum
  • cone flower
  • coreopsis
  • fall crocus
  • lantana
  • marigold
  • monkshood
  • mums
  • sedum
  • sneezeweed
  • witch hazel

Floral Arrangement

Fall flowers make for a nice arrangement.
Fall flowers make for a nice arrangement.

Have you ever made an Autumn centerpiece or arrangement?

See results

Gathering Sunflowers

Taller ornamental grasses, taller flowering plants, and spikier plants, can add a special touch.

Pampas Grass
Pampas Grass


  • goldenrod
  • pampas grass
  • Russian sage
  • sunflowers
  • yarrow

What Type of Container?

You may choose to arrange your material on a platter as I did, or you might opt to place materials in a large glass or crockery bowl, in a basket, in an oblong box, on a tray, on cookie sheets or even in a cut out pumpkin.

How to make a centerpiece using a large platter.

Additional Materials for Fall Table Centerpieces

  • A large oblong platter
  • Scissors
  • Brightly colored napkins in fall colors

Making an Autumn Colors Table Centerpiece

  1. Trim any brown patches or ragged edges from leaves.
  2. Arrange leaves on the platter, covering completely, so the leaves make a bright background for the other materials. Leaves should extend past the platter edge.
  3. Fall flower arrangements can be particularly striking. If flowers are to be included, arrange these in the center or around the edge of the platter.
  4. Fill in spaces between flowers with nuts, acorns, pine cones, small gourds, smaller squashes or pumpkins.
  5. Trail vines around the edge.
  6. Insert bright berry clusters to finish off the centerpiece.
  7. Arrange brightly colored napkins in the middle of the table and place the platter on these so napkins frame the autumn centerpiece.

Autumn table decorations made from natural materials are sure to draw comments and can help to set the mood for entertaining. A fall table centerpiece not only dresses up the table, but showcases the best offerings of the season.

Bright Autumn Colors Add Cheer as Weather Turns Colder

A platter centerpiece and a window wreath showing fall colors.
A platter centerpiece and a window wreath showing fall colors. | Source

Ideas for Leftover Materials

It is likely that you will have leftovers and rather than discarding them, these can be transformed into attractive arrangements. As seen in the photos, we had leftover leaves, so we fashioned a wreath and placed it in the window. Another idea is to place leftovers in a bowl, as seen in the photo below.

Left-over materials look attractive in a large bowl.
Left-over materials look attractive in a large bowl.

No Container?

Another option is to lay out a long rectangular cloth down the middle of the table and then place an assortment of materials all the way along. This can look surprisingly attractive.

Centerpieces Aren't Just for the Table

Autumn Comes to the Mantle

If you are fortunate enough to have a mantel in your home, this is another prime location to create an arrangement on. Simply lay out a decorative cloth, then either arrange a center grouping or place items all the way along.

© 2013 Athlyn Green


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