I use lanterns in year-round decorating. But in the fall, working lanterns into my seasonal displays is an absolute must.
Greet visitors with a warm welcome when they visit this fall with a knock-your-socks-off exterior display. Use faux fall greens for a dramatic yet simple arrangement. The key to making fake fall picks, wreaths and garland look natural, not cheesy, is to work with the material, turning and twisting, until it looks like it would really grow in nature. Let some strands reach up, some stretch out and some trail down.
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If you want to have the glow of candlelight to brighten up fall evenings, use a battery-operated candle in a lantern. You can get ones with remote controls and on timers -- all the romance of candlelight with none of the fire risks or hassles.
We also like to use the space inside a lantern as a little stage for fall decor. Here's a fun idea: Roll up pages from old books into scrolls, then place them in a little wire basket and insert it inside a lantern.
When I entertain in the fall, I like to place lit lanterns on the steps that lead up to my front door. During the day, a line of lanterns adds interest to a front walkway or patio perimeter. In the evening, light them to illuminate each step for guests.
Work lanterns into your landscape as well. Place one in a dry birdbath, hang one from the top of an arbor, dangle one from a garden gate or suspend several from tree branches over garden beds or an outdoor table.
I use lots of lanterns in interior fall displays because they can be tricked up millions of ways, all in a matter of minutes. Try putting a little battery-operated candle inside a lantern, and then surround the lantern with a cloud of foliage. Don't like faux foliage? Get rid of it and put a line of lovely lanterns down your table's center or on your mantel.
Another idea: Open up a lantern and dump in a cornucopia of fall treasures. Start the display with a bed of fall greens, then add a tumble of faux fall gourds, with a vine snaking about to add fluidity to the collection. For added grandeur, put the lantern on a simple capital.
• Adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at nellhills.com.