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Harvest Table Decorating Ideas

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

leaves and autumn sunshineContributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman

One of my favorite autumn decorating themes is a celebration of the harvest. The symbols of abundance and gathering in our bounty work so well as we celebrate Thanksgiving or Sukkot. But I never stop there. I use my decorations for family meals and special gatherings throughout the fall. It’s my favorite season!

If you’re looking for new harvest table decorating ideas, here are some of my favorite tablescapes, accents and themes for your autumn holidays and celebrations.

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10. Sheaves of wheat

sheaves of wheat

For many areas of the country, sheaves of harvested wheat are a sign that autumn has truly arrived. Bringing that image into your tablescape is a simple way to incorporate the seasonal harvest into your fall meals and holidays

9. Incorporate unexpected materials

autumn serving tray

Adding the drama of rustic metal platters and other unexpected materials as a part of your table is a great way to bring a new earthiness to a harvest celebration. Look for serving pieces, chargers or platters that feature an autumn theme. Rich pewter or copper colors work beautifully on your fall table, and provide the perfect counterpoint to china and crystal.

8. Choose your colors

harvest table setting

The colors that don’t work on an autumn-themed table are pretty obvious. Soft pastels or bright summery aquas and pinks are probably better left for their own seasons. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with the brown-rust-olive trio. Expand your color palate to include the intense reds of the cranberry, the glowing orange of a pumpkin and the warm, pure yellows of lemons and squash. Let the colors you choose for your table linens reflect the full range of the fall harvest.

7. The beauty of the apple

bowl of apples

Sometimes the simpliest things are the most lovely. That’s certainly true of the apple. Rich red apples nested in a simple wooden bowl bring the elegance of a still life painting to your table. Use it as a centerpiece, or scatter smaller bowls along the table and on buffets and sideboards for pops of color everywhere.

6. Squash, gourds and pumpkins

squash gourds and pumpkin

Squash and colorful gourds are a favorite symbol of the season, so make room for them on your table. The great thing is that pumpkins, winter squash and decorative gourds are inexpensive and easy to find at farm stands or even in your local grocery store. Use small ones as place cards or for a splash of color on top of a napkin, plate or charger.

Larger ones can be arranged down the center of the table or in bowls or baskets as textural centerpieces.

5. Go nuts

nuts and fruit on table

Create a “river” of nuts down the center of your outdoor harvest table for a simple (and tempting) autumn feel. Mix in fall fruits and vegetables for color, layer in some baskets or colorful leaves and you have the perfect accent for autumn al fresco dining.

4. The right dishes


Pack away those summery, beach themed dishes and bring out something that celebrates the season. A harvest table calls for table settings with richer hues and more intricate designs. This is the time of year when dishes with gold or copper rims seem just right on the table. Layer different colors to mirror the feast of beauty happening outside on trees and in fields.

3. Bring the leaves to the table

autumn leaf centerpiece

When autumn comes, the intense colors of fall leaves draw people outdoors and into the woods. So why not bring those gorgeous shades to your table?

There are so many ways to bring leaves into your table setting. Arrange small branches filled with leaves in vases. Create casual layers of leaves in glass trifle dishes or pretty baskets. Scatter leaves across the tablecloth before setting with dishes. Or weave a garland of leaves to wind through the chandelier above the table.

2. Light up the meal

autumn candles

Candlelight and harvest season just go together. It reminds us of toasty bonfires after the hayride and hot cider by the fireplace. And the warm light from a flickering candle makes rich fall colors look even more inviting.

Bring that beauty to your holiday or supper table with tall, autumn-hued tapers, spicy scented jar candles or a collection of votives arranged on a silver tray. Place more candles on sideboards, buffets or mantels to bring the glow to the whole room.

1. Make the food part of the show

pumpkin soup

Don’t let the beauty stop with the items you place on the table. The food you serve can become a part of the look of your table, too. Rich pumpkin and squash soups, hearty stews and mouthwatering baked apples will be as delicious as they are beautiful.

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Celebrate the harvest around your table. Let the colors and textures of the season turn ordinary dinners into beautiful celebrations.


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