Around my house, I’m embracing the autumn days instead of rushing the holidays. I’m lingering on the falling leaves, the changing light, and the cool air that means sweaters and blankets and fires because this season is fleeting, unlike winter, which stays and stays. My mother decorated seasonally (it was one of her great talents and joys), and she was firm about keeping the autumn mood going strong until after Thanksgiving (her small gesture of placing a Christmas tree ornament on our Thanksgiving dinner plate was her way of easing us into the excitement to come).
I’m a seasonal decorator too—it fascinates me, this urge to bring the drama of the natural world into our rooms as if to tame it. And my approach to decorating has always been to try to let it unfold naturally instead of forcing it (the metaphor is not lost on me here, only I’m just now noticing it). I’m not one to have boxes of seasonal decorations stored away (this approach exasperates me and this is where I parted ways with my mother), but there are some guidelines I adhere to when it comes to seasonal decorating (and decorating in general).
I think its best to either keep it simple or go maximalist, but choose one (both is just confusing). Also choose a palette (and it doesn’t have to be the expected palette of the season). Use what you have, or what you have forgotten you had (you might be amazed at how different an old bowl looks with white pumpkins or a forgotten vase with clipped branches).
Collect one thing that you love per season or holiday (and buy whenever you see it) because this will add continuity to your look (and really it makes life easier). Then, use repetition, and think about scale: make something big that makes you smile, or something miniature that makes you smile. And—you don’t have to keep everything. Let it go.
I do have a small and growing collection of dried wheat topiaries, but that’s about all that I have stored away. The rest I found at the grocery store (white pumpkins and lady apples) or outside (the branches from our oak trees and Japanese maples and dogwoods) or at the farmer’s market (the heirloom chrysanthemums in my Spode teapot).
Consider savoring the calmness of autumn. Find small (or big!) ways to celebrate its colors and sounds and tastes and smells. Accept its gifts, and search for unexpected ways to display them before the Christmas tree goes up.
* all photographs by Michael Sneeringer, Jr. (@elsneero)