I started with a few packs of leaves from the dollar store. When I grabbed these off the shelf I couldn't tell there were so many color varieties in each pack, nor so many leaves. There were more than 200 in each pack and I bought three!
I decided to make a leaf garland, so I picked up some embroidery thread in a nice harvest orange from the craft store.
After sorting all the leaves by color, I used a darning needle to thread the leaves onto the string. I tried to make the colors look natural and randomly collected by alternating lighter and darker colors.
Originally I planned to have garland on the mantle, but I decided I already had plenty of harvest cheer there. I pinned the garland to the curtains over the picture window instead.
In the corner between the windows, I added some fall foliage to my vase of lighted branches.
On the mantle I placed a store-bought leaf garland behind all the decor items. I consider this garland essentially free because I bought it back in high school. It was my only piece of fall decor.
Also new to our mantle is a small scale bust of Albert Einstein that the boyfriend found at Goodwill for $5. Strange little discoveries like that are how I explain to others the thrill of thrifting.
The grapevine wreath is above the fireplace year round, but I change the accent foliage seasonally. I bought the fall posy with the dark orange sunflower at the craft store last year. This year I added the bright fall-colored berries as an accent in a few places around the living room. I found a bundle of these fall berries in a ziplock bag at the Salvation Army for a few dollars. I put a few of them in my custom painted black vases. (You'll notice there are only two of these now...unfortunately the tallest one took a tumble from the mantle and could not be salvaged.)
I used a few of the leftover fabric leaves and a few of the orange berries to accent some mini-pumpkins that were on sale at the grocery store. The bowl they're in is actually supposed the look like a spider's web, but will all the fall cheer piled into it all you really see is the irregular shape, which suits me fine.
While hunting for Halloween costume accessories at the thrift store I found this wonderful wooden pumpkin bowl. The handles are made from twisted wire, and there are metal leaves on vines on both sides. I have been using it to keep track of our remote controls.
Overall, I spent less than $20 decorating the house for fall this year: $3 for three packs of fabric leaves, $3 for the bag of orange berries from the thrift store, $5 for orange embroidery thread, $2.50 for 5 mini pumpkins, and about $5 for the wooden pumpkin bowl.
After all that decorating, it's time for a seasonally appropriate treat: hot spiced apple cider, sipped while watching the rain.