Sign up to get your daily dose of Miss Mustard Seed:

how I decorate for the seasons


I know as a home blogger, I’m supposed to crank out awesome new holiday projects weeks before each season starts.  Well, I honestly don’t do a lot to decorate for the seasons.  I like to throw out a few natural elements…like sea shells in the summer, a few eggs in the spring, some evergreen boughs and pine cones in the winter and I’ll buy a few pumpkins for fall.  So far, I bought one pumpkin at Wegman’s the other day and plopped it in a dough bowl.  Done.

Decorating for fall 2 -

Decorating for fall 3 -

Decorating for fall -

I’ll probably pick up a few more as I see ones that I like, but that’s really about it.

Decorating for fall 4 -

I already had some feathers in an ironstone pitcher and those look fall-ish, so I moved them up to the living room to give them a more prominent place.

Decorating for fall 5 -

The times when I do actually do a project, it’s almost always for an HGTV freelance article and usually I’m doing it after the holiday has passed or in some random month like April.  Most pumpkins I acquire are for free when people are ready to decorate for Christmas.

Here a few of the fall freelance projects I’ve done…

fall vignette...

hand painted dinner plates

…one of my favorites, a white thanksgiving table (I don’t think it’s live, yet)…

Decorating for fall 7 - (599x800)

Decorating for fall 8 - (600x800)

Decorating for fall 9 - (601x800)

Decorating for fall 10 - (800x600)

spider web pillow

Decorating for fall 11 - (600x800)

…a “mini pumpkin” wreath

Decorating for fall 6 - (600x800)

… and foam tomb stones.

Decorating for fall 12-

Here’s the thing.  I’ll make them, set up the photo shoot and then I end up selling most of the projects and props or dropping them off at the local thrift store.  I’ve kept a few of my very favorite to use for future shoots, but I really don’t decorate with them.

I’ve always loved the idea of decorating for all of the seasons and homes that have seasonal decor beautifully arranged on their porch look so inviting.  My porch has empty concrete urns and cans of Verathane that I need to list on Craig’s List.  I think the thing that prevents me from going all out is that I would rather spend time upholstering a piece of furniture that I can use all year or put my money towards some paint or a rug.  I don’t want to buy a bunch of stuff that spends 11 months of the year in bins in the basement.  My only exception to that is Christmas decor, but I don’t get too carried away with that.

My point is this… in this Blog/Pinterest world, it can sometimes feel like we need to do all of that or we’re somehow falling short.  If you’re just throwing a few pumpkins on the porch, just know that I’m right there with you.  And if we’re falling short, I’m sure we’re in good company.

Related posts:


  1. Paula Lusk says:

    Boy, Marion, I was so happy to hear you say that you don’t do much holiday decorating. My husband and I downsized by more than half of our big house, when our 2 daughters moved out.
    We have been in our new place for 3 yrs on, 12/24/10. Talk about stressed!
    All I put up now is my Nativity Scene. I do change the wreaths on the door for every season. We have been doing a much toned down Christmas, I believe ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’, not a Santa Claus Christmas, a real Christmas.
    As I lay in bed last night, I was trying to come up with something, and I thought,’fill the dough bowl with a fake pumpkin and gourds.’ So when I saw this I had to laugh out loud about the irony of us who ‘used’ to go overboard. Blessings Paula

  2. Every year as fall approaches I have this huge desire to go whole hog with decorating my front door for fall. Like pumpkin towers, bails of hay, tons of mums, new wreath, etc. But then I start counting up the ten’s of dollars it would take to do that all, for only a month? I have to make myself pass :( Usually just a mum or two and a pumpkin to carve for Halloween. But the pressure is always there to do more . . .

  3. Miss Mustard…I hear you! I am so busy now and through the holiday season…I barley can get Thanksgiving dinner made. I always say I am going to pump out trees early…so I can decorate, but that is Never the case! I love your white pumpkin and your photo shoots!
    Keep the lovely ideas coming!

  4. Thanks for sharing and these pics are lovely, but I am definitely a decorator such as you – guess the old addage, less is more is correct. Love your posts!

  5. anita says:

    I like to reuse my decorating seasonal stash in different rooms. It is nice to see how to incorporate fall items but to me they must be natural and nature does that best!

  6. Marisa says:

    Thank goodness I’m not the only one!! I’ve been seeing all of these decorations and I’ve started to feel guilty. Christmas we spend with our children because they all live in one city and we live two hours away. So, we don’t decorate a lot for the seasons because it is so much easier to transport “us” than to make them come to our house. We do have Thanksgiving but they love what we cook and they bring their own containers for left overs. I don’t think they pay that much attention to the decorations. It is all about Family and Food!!!

  7. Candace Moore says:

    Well said, Marion. You have generously shared with your readers the freedom to focus on the joy of the season itself. Most of us live in our homes so it’s never perfect. Besides that, simple is always classic.

  8. Cindy says:

    I love the pumpkin wreath! So it will be for sale in your store?

  9. Marianne in Mo. says:

    I used to go all out for Christmas, but have started scaling back. Not much fun packing it away for days anymore, then trying to remember where I stashed the everyday decor items I took down for Christmas! I used to change wreaths for the seasons too, but we installed a screen/storm door this year, and my wreaths won’t fit between the space anymore! Never did much for Halloween since my girls grew up, but hubs still wants Jack o’ lanterns – and I have to carve them – hate it! It’s nice to be free of all the packing and unpacking, searching thru totes to see what I feel like putting out that year. But I can’t seem to part with the stuff I don’t use! Keep hoping my girls will want some for sentimental reasons – so far, it’s a no!

  10. Looks like we have a consensus here. I never did a lot because I just didn’t have much time or money. Like you, I had to prioritize what I wanted to do with my resources. Then I lived in Texas 8 years, and there is a whole different mindset there — or least there was then. Everybody turned the house into Disneyland every single holiday and season. Now that I am practically in my dotage and have downsized, life is simpler — with more organic components and more emphasis on the meaning of the seasons. I do remember that the good china and table cloth (more like your white Thanksgiving) were the norm for special occasions. We didn’t have 500 sets of “stuff” — and I am planning to weed out a whole lot of mine over the next year.

  11. Nikki says:

    Thank you thank you for saying that about seasonal decorating!! I sometimes feel that I fall short in that area. I just don’t have enough time and would rather spend my money also on other decorating things. If I do decorate, I like to use things that can stay up through Halloween and Thanksgiving.

  12. I’m right there with you Marion! I have the same thinking about buying things that are on display for a short period of time versus something I can enjoy all year long. So yeah, a pumpkin or two sounds about right to me.

  13. Teresa says:

    I love simple, clean lines in decorating and dislike having a “overdone” look. While I love to change out my décor for each season, I try to keep it at a minimum. As I have gotten older, I realize that less is more.

  14. Here, here! I do enjoy the photographs and creativity of others’ holiday decor, but that’s as far it goes. I’m definitely more on the minimalist (and naturalist) side of holiday props in my own home. Simple is beautiful in my cottage.

  15. Heidi says:

    Thanks for this simple and honest blog. Much appreciated.

  16. Thank you for being so real! Love that and love your blog.

  17. I totally agree! You are the inspiration to my business :-) I realize I have a limited amount of creative energy…I can’t upholster and paint furniture to sell AND have an incredible seasonal show in my yard and in my house. I’m okay with that. You are amazing Marian, and I love your humility and sense of reality. Kindly..Carol

  18. New subscriber to your blog! Love it!
    Great post, good to see I’m not alone!

  19. Vanessa Powell says:

    Thank you Marian!!!! I see all the porches, mantels, buffets and tables beautifully decorated for each season/holiday, then I look at my home and think yuck that will never work in here…so I do just a couple of appropriate items for whatever season it is. I always feel like it is so inadequate. I’m so glad to know I’m not alone with feeling like there is no need to go over the top with each season! Sometimes simple is the best!
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful home and your beautiful spirit!

  20. I am very minimalistic too when it comes to decorating for the holidays.I hate rearranging my home around to put out holiday decor.I used to go all out when my daughter was small.And now I just keep it simple.I use simple elements.For fall pumpkins,acorns,apples and pears are part of my decor.Along with dried hydrangeas and fresh flowers from my garden….that’s it!

  21. Once I migrated my decorating toward ironstone, vintage china and less color and jazz, I found seasonal decor MUCH easier! It’s so easy to add just a few simple things to what stays out all year. It took me years to learn this…I’m a slow study….but it has certainly made my task easier.

    You are brilliant and talented and generous, my dear. Thank you for sharing your gifts.

  22. Janet says:

    So true, simple is more, and classic and natural is always in style & no waste.

  23. You are speaking to me today. I never decorate for halloween and I totally agree with your few eggs at Easter. Christmas is a little different for me as well, I enjoy it more than any other decorating. For the last 10 years I, along with a team, also decorate our church for every season or celebration and un-decorate when someone is getting married. I have come to this realization recently, that I prefer to do very little at home, and am going through my boxes and bins to donate, thrift or sell.

  24. Jeanine C says:

    In my humble opinion, simplicity is best. Beside are we decorating to impress others or to bless our family?
    I LOVE Pinterest, but It’s good to keep the proper perspective :)

    Thanks for sharing Marian! I love the pumpkin, leaves, pinecones, and nut centerpiece. The use of upholstery webbing as a weaved runner is genius! Is there a tutorial for this somewhere?

  25. Sheri Youngquist says:

    You’re honest. You’re real.
    Yet you’re enthusiastic about making your house a home where your family and guests feel comfy as you gently remind them of the season without surrounding them with an overload to their senses. Let’s leave that to the home decorating divas who have huge staffs and who, if we’re not careful, can make us feel inadequate as we look at the one pumpkin and a few fall leaves on our dining room tables.

    That’s what we love about you, Marion! Keep up that practical attitude. It will ensure that you don’t burn out and stop blogging. And a world without the MMS blog is a world I don’t want to imagine. :)

    Blessings, Sheri in Auburn CA

  26. Tawny says:

    AMEN! So so so glad to hear this! Oh yeah, I’m right there with you!

  27. Heather says:

    I don’t know what to think … seems to me you are just supporting the propaganda about decorating–I mean why put the photos out there if that’s not you. Sounds pretty phony to me.

  28. Welcome to the REAL world! I live there too Marian. I do love a look at what you are doing for HGTV and magazines though. There are many who really love to MAKE the decorations and for them these projects are a great inspiration!

    Linda at The French Hens Nest

  29. joanna n. says:

    you just became my #1 favorite home blogger! really! i love seasonal decorating as much as the next person, but real life gets in the way too often for me, & sometimes, i can be too hard on myself after seeing other’s beautiful decorations when i have a lone pumpkin or worse, zilch! thank you for being real & letting me know i’m in good company! =)

  30. Teresa says:

    Great post. Thank for being so practical and sharing.

  31. Denise says:

    I so look forward to all of your posts. Thank you so much for keeping it real! My family is coming to our home for Thanksgiving this year and I plan to decorate for Christmas while they’re all here (they don’t know that yet)
    Can you tell me what pattern the silverware is on the table- it’s beautiful

  32. THANK YOU for saying this. No, really. Thanks. I can’t do it all. xo

  33. Samantha says:

    Could you please tell me the pattern of your silverware. I picked up one ice tea spoon with this same pattern from am antique store and would love to know more about it!

  34. Wow, what a relief to read this post. I look at all the pretty pictures online and constantly think ‘I need to do more’. I feel like you just released me from that pressure, and I thank you. :)

Leave a Comment