featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Today decorating editor Jeanie Sims tells you how to make an autumn centerpiece if you have little money and not a creative bone in your body. -- AP

Thanks, Anastasia! One of the quickest ways to spruce up your home for any holiday is with a theme-inspired centerpiece. However, many people cringe at the thought because for them it means spending a fortune on a pre-made centerpiece from the florist, craft, or gift shop. They think they can’t possibly create something on their own and therefore, never try.

Frankly, this is one of the easiest decorating tricks in the book and takes absolutely no talent. Really. Even if you’re all thumbs.

Here’s how you make the autumn centerpiece shown in the photo or one similar to it:

First, find an appropriate container. You don’t have to spend a dime. Everyone has baskets sitting on a shelf in the basement, in a closet, or up in the attic, right? Don’t have one the right size or color? Think outside the box. Literally. Cover a shoe box with wrapping paper. Use several clay flower pots grouped together. Even a serving bowl will work.

Next take a trip to your local crafts store or big box store. Purchase an assortment of fake leaves, greenery, and gourds. Or pick some autumn leaves, pine cones, and evergreen branches from your backyard and buy some real gourds at the supermarket. However, if you buy the fake stuff, you’ll be able to reuse the items year after year.

Now, here’s the easiest part -- take what you purchased and fill your container. Just dump the stuff in. That’s all there is to it! Don’t believe me? Give it a try. You’ll wind up with something that looks like you spent $50 when you really only spent around $5.

Want to craft a centerpiece without spending even that much? The next time you go for a walk around your neighborhood, take a bag with you and collect the pine cones strewn over the ground. When you get home, fill a basket with them. Voila! Instant, cost-free centerpiece! Want to jazz it up a bit? brush the tips with white paint and sprinkle on some silver or gold glitter.

Thanks, Jeanie! What great ideas! So readers, how many of your are going to give these simple decorating tricks a try? Let’s hear from you. Post a comment to be entered in this week’s drawing for a book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP