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Beautiful fall decor on a shoestring

Kim Tilley, a tightwad at heart, is a wife, a mother of three active boys and the founding editor of Frugal by force and later by choice, Kim cut her income by 60 percent to stay at home with her children and discovered ...

Thanksgiving decorating

Decorating for fall is inexpensive and easy with so many glorious, natural colors around us! Here are some simple and frugal ideas to decorate your home for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving decorating6. Grow yourself some gourds!

Or buy some! They are so much fun to paint, and come in so many sizes. One year I mistakenly planted gourds near our house instead of pumpkins. We had over 40! The vine was gorgeous during the summer, climbing up our deck. When it came time to cut off the small gourds, we found that we had tall and short ones, smooth and bumpy. We painted the bumpy ones as witches and Frankensteins, and painted the smooth ones as mini pumpkins and ghosts. I kept the faces very simple and sweet. The kids loved getting in on the act!

7. The almighty pumpkin

Fall isn't fall without pumpkins, so I TRY to grow some every year and usually end up with two or three. We put our uncut pumpkins on the porch as decoration for as long as possible, then cut them into jack-o-lanterns a day or two before Halloween. If you have a steady hand, pumpkin painting can be fun, too, and you can still cook the pumpkin (make sure you wash off all the paint, though!).

8. Mums are easy to grow

Buy some this year and enjoy them for years to come, both in the garden and in your house. I find them to be pretty long lived as a cut flower. Fresh flowers are the ultimate decoration! They are easy to propagate: Split them into small plants, each with a little bit of root on them. Plant them and keep damp for a week or two. Next year, you will have more mums than you bargained for!

9. Vines and plants

Honeysuckle and grape vines have to be pruned to keep the plants going. Don't throw the prunings away: Use them! You can make all the cool stuff you see in the stores. Just imitate the grapevine decorations you see at craft fairs and stores. Don't have any grapevines to clip? Ask your neighbors -- most people will not mind giving them to you as long as you ask. If they are dried out when you get them, soak in some water before bending into shapes.

Herbs make beautiful houseplants. Basil is especially pretty and can be rooted in water! I found this out when I started bringing it in for sauce and placed it in vase like a cut flower. Just clip a few tender sprigs and place in water. After about five days, roots will start to form. Keep the sprigs watered, changing water if it gets murky. Plant sprigs and enjoy an edible center piece of basil in the fall and winter or anytime!

10. Dried apples

For a wonderful, homey feeling in your home. Dip apples in lemon juice to reduce browning. You can dry them in rings, stringing them up to dry, or as slices. Use them to create wreaths, garlands, and as finishing touches for a country bow. Add cinnamon sticks for a nice touch.

Recommended reading

Martha Stewart's Great American Wreaths: Don't be scared off by the $600+ peony wreath! There are some beautiful and inexpensive ideas in this book. The nature crafts are great. Some of Martha's projects are outrageously expensive, but there are others which are true gems, particularly the wreath she is holding on the cover, made from pressed leaves. Highly recommended.

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