Closeup of two dyed gourds and a pumpkin nestled by a centerpiece of fall grasses and hydrangea blooms

How to Forage a Free & Fabulous Fall Tablescape

Fabulous table decor doesn’t need to be expensive. Forage for all the Fall tablescape goodness! It’s waiting in your neighborhood and your closets!

It’s the Thrill of the Hunt — where not all trophies have feathers, fur or antlers.

The leaves are changing, mornings are crisp, and that can only mean one thing: it’s time to get our fall on!

If you’re looking for a simple (and free) way to add some autumnal flair to your home, look no further than Mother Nature herself. With just a little bit of foraging, you can create a gorgeous fall tablescape using materials straight from the great outdoors, and from your own closets.

So grab your clippers and let’s get started!

Our mornings have been spectacular lately. And with the sun rising a bit later, a sunrise “Come-As-You-Are” gathering for some of the gals in neighborhood would be the perfect way to kickstart a weekday.

My menu took no effort, so I decided to spend a bit of creative energy on my tablescape.

vertical image of a Fall tablescape at sunrise wit a lake in the background

This was shortly before sunrise, which for us was 7:24 this morning.

Walking to a neighbor’s house for “Sunrise” sounds taxing, But walking over to have coffee by 7:15 is easy peasy! Crazy, right?

HINT: Just be careful how you word your invite.

Don’t be surprised if this becomes a monthly round robin gathering of the neighbor gals.

So let’s talk about Fall Foraged Tablescapes:

Starting with the Table Covering

vertical image of a Fall tablescape at sunrise wit a lake in the background

I started with my very favorite table setting base — this drop cloth!!!! Why do I LOVE this one in particular? So many reasons:

  • NO seams!
  • NO markings!
  • 100% cotton
  • Huge 9 x 12 ft
  • Double-rolled hems
  • Great weight
  • Look at the texture and drape after it’s been washed
  • AND the price, currently $22.30 each!!!!!

No kidding!!! It is the best! (How many exclamation points am I allowed in one blog post, on one product?)

closeup of the ends of the tablecloth bundles together and tied with webbing

The 9-foot width just does hit the ground on each side of our patio table. Typically, the length just puddles at each of the short ends, but when I don’t seat anyone at the ends of the table, I like to tie up the ends of the tablecloth especially if there is some wind. Today, I tied it down low, sometimes, I’ll tie up high.

I had planned to place an urn of mums at each end, but . , . . those (darn) deer!!! Not a bloom in sight!

Resources for Materials And Supplies

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Moving On To the Centerpiece-

Sunrise breaking on the centerpiece of a Fall table set outdoors overlooking a lake

I made my centerpiece the day before.

First, I gathered the grass heads from a neighbor. Two houses down from us, Tony maintains an immaculate, breathtaking garden. He very generously allowed me to clip as many grass flowered heads as I wanted. I just carefully snipped them one at a time from all sides of numerous plants so you can’t even tell any are gone.

Then I clipped hydrangea blooms from our front courtyard in their beautiful pinkish to russet fall colors.

In back by the patio, I have two allum plants and in the Fall those lovely purple orbs have died back to charming little dried Sputnik type grass. Clipped some of those too!

Now to Construct the Actual Centerpiece-

Once I gathered all my materials, I foraged my craft room for a few supplies.

Three pieces of foam down the center of the table
a covered piece of foam, a bare piece of foam and the can of spray glue
three blocks of foam covered in Spanish moss

I cut a dry foam block into three long layers. With spray glue and gloved hands I matted some Spanish moss saved from pervious projects onto the flat foam blocks.

TIP: When I dismantle floral arrangements and projects, I always save any moss. Make sure it’s dry and save it in bags with like-colored materials.

three blocks of of grass ready to be combined
grass combined and running the length of the table
Gourds are added to the centerpiece nesteld on each side of the grass

Because my centerpiece would be three separate blocks of foam with the grasses overlapping, I built it on a large piece of cardboard.

Cut the stalks of grass and insert them in the blocks of foam filling as full as you like.

Then combine the three blocks as close as it works for your table.

When the grasses are arranged the way you want, add some gourds or pumpkins or any accent you might have, I added some gourds that I had brought back from Round Top, TX earlier this year.

You’re right, they don’t look like ordinary gourds. They did when I bought them! But I dyed them.

Yes, with gourd dye. Super easy and you can mix just about any color you can dream of. That will be another blog post coming right along.

And this is where I plug being sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any. And you control how much you receive. Plus you can manage your subscription in the footer of every email you receive from me. If you want more, if you want less, you control it!

Hydrangea blooms are added in a wavy line encompassing the gourds
completed centerpiece on the edge of cardboard being transferred into place on a tablecloth

There’s nothing magical about the gourd placement. I just moved them around this way and that, until it was pleasing to my eye. As I so often say, Don’t Overthink It!

And once the gourds are placed, then it’s time to add the accents. For me that’s hydrangeas, you might have something different.

I saved my centerpiece on the cardboard inside overnight.

Then in the morning, once the tablecloth was in place, it was just a matter of sliding the arrangement to the edge of the cardboard and then into place on the tablecloth.

closeup of a gourd vase holding dried hydrangeas and dried alum blooms

One of the gourds had it’s neck cut to be a vase, so this is where I used my little dried “Sputniks” with a small hydrangea bloom. And to keep the round bottomed vase upright, add some florist pebbles, or gravel or even dried beans.

Centerpiece viewed down the length of the table

If you ever needed proof that you can have a beautiful dramatic centerpiece without being tall and blocking conversation — here it is!

Plus this is a super easy meal to have exuberant table decor, because there are not a lot of dishes to pass. A plate of bagels and individual servings of breakfast protein in small custard dishes.

Tie the Centerpiece Into the Individual Place Settings-

I like to add an element to the individual place settings that speaks back to the centerpiece. Sometimes that might be a place card, sometimes a napkin ring, For this table I wanted to play up the foraged materials. And for this little morning gathering place cards and napkin rings seemed a little too much.

closeup of three foraged plants tucked in a linen napkin on a white plate on a water hyacinth round mat

For this casual table, I folded the napkins into charming pockets to hold more foraged nature.

The table was shaping up to be mostly neutral with loads of texture. I’m good with that, but I wanted the play up the deeper reds that were just starting to tinge the hydrangea blooms. My Japanese maple leaves were not looking very good — too dried and shriveled.

Closeup of pods left on the stalk of a Canna plant after the bloom dies

However, between the patios, I have a stunning Canna plant. I got to looking at it closer and discovered this pod type thingy [if you can help define this, please let me know in the comments and I will update the post] that is now prevalent where the largest blooms had died back. Love the soft green with the deep red with it’s shape and texture.

I didn’t even know these were there. A delightful, unexpected gift from Mother Nature!

I clipped one of those for each napkin. It’s brings that little extra touch of deep red I was hoping to add.

The Individual Place Settings-

To let all the gorgeous plant material really shine, I kept the dinnerware all super neutral with just a bit of texture. That included my go-to napkins — a casual, slightly rumply textured creamy napkin folded into a pocket.

closeu of foraged plants in a linen napkin pouch on a white dinner plate

Those little pouches really make the plant material the star of the table.

And to set the place settings off from the drop cloth tablecloth, I added my round water hyacinth placemats. Again, more natural elements and more neutral texture.

Plus those placemats have the added benefits of being super sturdy.

To keep it simple for a quick morning setup, The night before, I arranged the napkins and placesettings on the mats inside. It took two minutes total to carry each one out and set in place.

Closeup of a tall shiny dyed gourd nestled in grass heads and fall tinted hydrangea blooms with the sun rising over the lake in the background
sunrise breaking over a fall tablescape overlooking a lake
MORNING sun shining brightly on half the centerpiece and two place settings

It was beautiful how the morning sun, just as it broke, lit the table. Such extreme shadows and beautiful rays of light!

A Ten Minute Table Setup-

When everything is done the day before, you can literally set, even an outdoor table, in 10 minutes!

Since it was a very dewey morning, I needed to pause and wipe off the table. I then laid a fleece blanket over it to absorb any additional moisture. And over that went the dropcloth tablecloth. I tied up the ends. And the table covering was done.

Next, I carried the cardboard with the centerpiece in place and gently slid each section of the grass and hydrangeas into place and reset the gourds.

Now, it was time for the placesettings. One by one, I carried each one out and set it in place. Remember, each was already set and ready to go on its placemat. This was a two minute job, total.

Asmall apple, pumpkin and acorn are the tapered end of the grass spray by the table end

Bring out the water glasses and all’s ready. I had enough time left that of course, I was compelled to add a bit more. I borrowed three little white pumpkin from my kitchen tiered tray and a few sweet little apples from a friend’s tree and then pulled out a bag of acorns from a neighbors yard that I had foraged two years ago.

I liked these little extras filling in the side, but particularly at th end of the “grass table runner”. It’s kind of like a tassel punctuating the end of the centerpiece.

Title Graphic: 'Pin It Now" with three arrows

Please pin this wherever and everywhere that makes sense for you to find it again.

It’ll help you — and it’s a big help for me, too

Thanks bunches!!!

pin with sunrise over a lake behind a Fall Tablescape

I hope this inspires you to look around at all the beautiful materials available to set a gorgeous table — all for free!

Here's to Joy-Filled Living, Diane

17 Comments

  1. Renae

    Absolutely gorgeous, my friend.

    Reply
  2. Wendy McMonigle

    Your table is just stunning. I love how you used the drop cloth and tied it on the ends. And can we just chat about that grass????? wowza, I do not have that kind of grass growing around here. Then there are the gourds…… I could just go on and on.Thank you for sharing your talents with us today.

    Reply
  3. Lynn

    Diane – Your tablescape is beautiful. I love all the natural elements on the table. I’m completely obsessed with the dropcloth tablecloth. I’m definitely going to copy that. Thanks for sharing this in the tablescape share. Just so much inspiration.

    Reply
  4. Donna

    Diane, You are one of the most creative people I know! I love how you foraged outside for the gorgeous natural elements in your centerpiece! Everything about the table is beautiful! Thank you for always inspiring me! Blessings, Donna

    Reply
    • Diane

      Donna, you are just the sweetest! I’m so glad we inspire each other! It’s a true joy.

      Reply
  5. Jen

    Wow, Diane. This is absolutely stunning! The colors are beautiful and I love all of the natural materials you used. I’m going to share a photo and link to your tablescape in my week in rewind post tomorrow. I know my readers will love this as much as I do.

    Hugs!

    Reply
  6. Meagan

    wow what a beautiful Fall table Diane. I love how care free the drop cloth is as a tablecloth! I am going to have to get one for myself. I love the grass and gourds, they are stunning! Great job! Pinned!

    Reply
    • Diane

      It is truly one of the best purchases ever. It cracks me up that it’s listed as a dropcloth on Amazon, but the last bullet point in the description details is “Not intended for painting protection”. But it does make a great tablecloth!!

      Reply
  7. stacy

    Diane what a beautiful table! Love all of your foraged goodies and it’s just incredible with the light!

    Reply
    • Diane

      Thanks Stacy!v I know you’re a foraging gal too. I love the challenge of seeing what I can do with what I can find.

      Reply
    • Diane

      Nothing like sunrises!

      Reply
  8. Kelly

    Diane you have a gift my friend! This table is just lovely and even better is the fact that you used so many natural elements! Love your style and pretty pictures!

    Reply
  9. Lou Ann

    Hello ! Can you please tell me how you dyed the gourds ? They are beautiful !

    Reply
    • Diane

      Thanks Lou Ann! Hang tight, I’m preparing a blog post that should be out shortly!

      Reply
  10. Nicolle

    Diane your table is so beautiful! I have too have been known to forage for flowers and plants while on my walks. 🙂

    Reply
  11. Kylie

    I love all the gorgeous colors! Everything is so beautiful!

    Reply
    • Diane

      Thanks bunches Kylie! Fun sharing with you.

      Reply

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