This fall, forgo the life-size light-up and scummy mummies, ceiling-suspended spiders and creepy crawlers. Instead, stick to natural, season-spanning projects that are more crafty than creepy, and you'll have fun decorating.
1. Door with handmade fall wreath
Snipped from patterned plaids and fuzzy felt, this wreath's faux foliage will look fresh forever. Trace a leaf onto heavy card stock and use as a pattern to cut fabric. (For flannel and thinner fabrics, iron on craft backing to add stiffness.) With straight pins, secure leaves to an 18-inch Styrofoam wreath covered in tan felt, overlapping slightly to hide pins.
2. Colorful gourds on a mantelpiece
To establish the palette for a fireplace display that can stay up until turkey time, drape a trio of pinked printed-fabric patterned plaid squares on top of the mantel, and hold them in position with an assortment of colorful gourds and leaves. Add height to your fall display with reusable silk ginkgo branches (or use the real thing) in glass cylinder vases.
3. Pumpkins covered with paper cut-outs
Paper leaves encircling a white pumpkin make a dynamic graphic statement. Trace lawn-gathered leaves onto orange, yellow and dark red tissue paper. Then cut the tracings out and stick them to a pumpkin using decoupage glue. With a flat-head bristle brush, push from leaves' outer edges toward the centers to pucker paper slightly and create "veins"; let dry. Brush a thin layer of glue over pumpkin.
4. Apple cider with apple slices
Serve cider at an apple-sampling bar. Set out apple slices from several varieties (brush them with lemon juice so they don't brown). Garnish or dress with classic cinnamon sticks.
5. Caramel apples using twigs for handles
For caramel apples with genuine, grabbed-from-the-garden handles, trim twigs to four inches, wipe clean, and whittle one end down to a sharp point to insert into the apple.
A little bit of creative fun can make these simple decorations easily last until Turkey Day.