I was flipping through the October-November issue of The Whole Deal and this money-saving tip caught my eye (I wrote the piece months ago, so I'd almost forgotten it):
Make Décor do Double Duty. Decorate your table with winter squash, fresh herbs, citrus, apples, pears, pomegranates and nuts, and then use them in recipes.It reminded me that the time and weather is right for my annual collection tromp. Every fall when the air gets as crisp and sweet as a new-crop apple, I grab my garden snips and a stiff bag or two and go out to essentially steal from Mother Nature. The loot is dried plants, seed pods and flowers, as well as berries, colored leaves, vines, small evergreen branches... anything with interesting color or texture that looks like it will hold up for a while. Fortunately, I know my poison ivy and am able to steer clear of that! When I get home, I cover the big dining table with newspaper and unload the fruits of my caper. Next, I gather the things I actually bought to add even more color and texture, many of which fall into the décor-now-eat-later category. I love pomegranates, apples and squashes, especially with the natural hues and rough textures I foraged outdoors. I then put together a few different styles of arrangements, a tall one for the dining table when not in use and also one that is low-profile to use when we're eating so we can see each other for conversation. I make one for the sideboard or a hall table, too. And then, either the same day or a few weeks later, I make simple mini arrangements of just a few items and tape them together to use instead of bows when I'm wrapping holiday gifts. I love the naturally festive and seasonal look of the arrangements around the house every day for a month or two, but I also take a little time to punch them up when we're having a party. I'll buy a few Whole Trade™ flowers and depending on what type they are, either slip one or two into my existing arrangements dry or alter the arrangements a bit to incorporate something that will hold water for a blossom or two. It's also fun for shorter periods to decorate with interesting bowls or small baskets filled with bright citrus or a colorful variety of pears. The point is, decorating for the holiday season doesn't have to rob your food budget…it can be part of it, and is just one way to steal ideas and materials from Mother Nature. Oh, and don't forget to string popcorn and cranberries if you're decorating a tree. When you take the tree down later, you can hang them outside for the birds to eat. So, who's got more ideas for edible or stolen-from-nature décor? I'm sure I'm not the only one who needs some crisp, sweet Fall ideas.