As we shift towards holiday season, our mind turns to fall table decor ideas that will help us celebrate. Between Halloween, Thanksgiving, and basically the entire month of December, there’s a whole slew of family gatherings and dinner parties on the horizon. And that calls for a little extra effort and thought in our table laying.
Interested in leveling up your tablescape game in time for fall? We’ve got you covered. Below, we’ve spoken to a handful of experts in hospitality and decor to get their insights on exactly what you should—and shouldn’t—do to ensure you have a dining set up your guests will fawn over.
Some employ traditional fall decorating tricks, such as using pumpkins, gourds and autumn foliage. Others are a little more out of the box. Yet all are sure to bring a smile to faces, even before the food arrives...
Fall table decor ideas
1. Consider jewel tones
Lisa and Sara Queen of Lisa Queen Design suggest pulling out jewel tones and retro-inspired pieces to pair with natural burlap and other elements of nature.
'Mixing color and glassware pieces against the natural landscape will make the table elegant but also playful,' they explain.
If you don't want to invest in new glasses to get those jewel tones of ruby, emerald, sapphire and amethyst, cut flowers will do the job just as well.
2. Lean on texture and textiles
Lisa and Sara Queen also love to use texture and textiles as the launch point for their tablescape as it offers a layered, multi-dimension and mismatched look.
They suggest layering glassware, ceramic pieces and linens to create a more interesting look to the table.
Here, bold monochrome stripes mix with earthy pumpkins for a playful look that has an almost Beetlejuice vibe. It's a good compromise between a kid-friendly Halloween display and sophisticated, grown-up fall table decor.
3. Choose smaller floral arrangements or plants
Gone are the days of one big floral arrangement in the center of the table! We no longer have to remove the bouquet of flowers once everyone is seated to see everyone across the table, nor do we have to break the bank to buy those huge arrangements.
'Simply pick up a bouquet at your local corner store and inexpensively deconstruct them into various little glass receptacles around the house,' suggests Vanessa Ohayon of Vanessa & Co. Events & Hospitality.
Alternatively, take indoor plants and arrange them in small clusters. Or use herbs to add fragrance to the table.
4. Add candles
No fall table is ready until you add a flickering candle. For whatever reason, fall is captured so beautifully in aromas, so make sure to include a nice candle (or two) on your table.
'You can find appropriate candles for your coffee table, kitchen table, and more that will look good and help you capture the smell as well,' says Nora Mitchell, Interior Designer and Editor-in-chief of Household Advice. 'Find a way to present them beautifully and enjoy the ambiance they provide.'
Woody scents, evoking smoky bonfires, and musks are especially evocative at this time of year.
5. Use pumpkins as place settings
Pumpkins alone can easily turn your tablescape into a fall scene. 'A large pumpkin or two or a series of small, medium and large will add a harvest feel to your tables and they are economical and long lived to boot,' says Pamela O’Brien, Principal Designer at Pamela Hope Designs.
'You can also opt for one fantastic specialty pumpkin and let it take center stage.'
We love the use of smaller pumpkins as individual place settings, which could easily support name cards for a party.
6. Consider painted or uniquely colored pumpkins
'Shopping for pumpkins means you also have various colors to select from,' says O’Brien. 'I once did a Halloween table with all white ghost pumpkins and black decorations in the form of cut-out ravens on stands. It was very sophisticated yet spooky.'
If you can't find pumpkins in the right color naturally, try these pumpkin decorating ideas.
7. Don’t overlook china
'I enjoy collecting unique pieces of china so I also add seasonal pieces that I’ve found over the years. I have a plate with a covered bridge scene painted on it, several saucers and candy dishes in maple-leaf shapes and a tray with autumn leaves,' explains O’Brien.
Featuring these on your tables is charming and they are at the ready for entertaining – just grab the fall plates off the table and use them to serve your guests.
'This can be very budget friendly as well,' says O’Brien. 'Fall-colored and autumn-themed tableware and china is easily found at thrift stores and estate sales. It’s fun to search for seasonal pieces when browsing!'
8. Search through other holiday items
Vanessa Deleon, president of interior design firm Vanessa Deleon Associates, suggests foraging through your decorations for all holidays to see if anything will be suitable for fall. This approach is both sustainable and budget-friendly.
'After you sort out all your items for setting your table, look for the dishes, knives, linen, or place mats,' she says. 'Place all your items on your table, once you have selected the items you want, take inventory on what you are missing and only add items you can reuse for other events and holidays.'
9. Mix fresh and faux florals
'I like to do a mix of fresh and faux on my autumnal tablescapes,' shares design expert Karen Aronian. 'An overflowing garden with acorns, colored Indian corn and gourds, or a garland of pretend apples surrounding a fresh centerpiece works great.'
Such cornucopias are especially effective as Thanksgiving centerpiece ideas, representing exactly what we should be thankful for.
10. Put kids' art in the spotlight
Your little ones' creative efforts shouldn't be confined to kids bedroom decor ideas or the side of the fridge.
'Consider surrounding your autumnal decor and living flowers with children's art atop the table,' suggests Aronian. 'My son made fall colored glazed toadstool pottery that matches in perfectly with faux fabric autumn leaves scattered around.'
11. Take inspiration from fall colors
Fall-inspired decor is more about color than anything else.
“You want to stick to fall color schemes that reflect the outdoor environment. Red, orange, yellow, brown, and even some green can work,' suggests James Green, owner, Build a Head. 'Warm shades that exude comfort are the way to go.'
12. Go foraging
As for the decor items themselves, try to stick with outdoorsy-like items as well. Items with wood, dried flowers, wicker baskets, candles, wreaths, etc. 'Think of items that give you comfort and emulate the season,' says Green.
13. Choose one statement piece
Deleon also suggests opting for a minimal approach if you want to make a big impact without splashing out for a ton of one-off decorations. This is especially effective as a small dining room idea, where you don't want clutter to overpower the space.
'Pick one item that will be your inspirational piece, it may be a vase, or candle holder, any of these items will do,' she explains.
14. Mix nature and glamour
Farmhouse fall decor ideas can be elevated to give you just the right mix of rustic and impressive.
'Layering natural items like burlap or wicker accents with more glamorous, classic dinner party items like napkin rings or bold plating offers an easy, high-end touch to any fall-inspired tablescape,' says Lisa and Sara Queen.
15. Decorate with fresh seasonal fruit
Ohayon also suggests stocking up on some lemons or some seasonal fruit— just throw them in a bowl for an easy pop of color in a white dining room.
Ohayon also pointed out that this type of decor comes with no waste as you can enjoy them later in the week. 'Adding a sprig of herbs will also add a touch of "je ne sais quoi" to the seasonal table setting,' she says.
How do you set a pretty fall table?
'Start with your table linen,' says Real Homes' Amy Cutmore. A runner is an essential – burlap or rust colored material will set the right autumnal tone. Then leave the table bare if you dare, or pick a contrasting tablecloth.
'Keep crockery simple, layered on top of a charger. You might want to pop an illustrated plate on top to set the scene. Or you can go plain and let your centrepieces shine.'
'I like to use seasonal foliage and run this along the centre of the table runner, mixing in candles and either seasonal pumpkins and gourds, or posies of fresh or dried flowers to add interest and height.'
'Try not to go too tall though, as you'll block your view of the person opposite!'