PINECONES AND ACORNS
These old standbys are as ubiquitous as pumpkin pie, but try them in a new, sophisticated way. Buy a half-dozen cylindrical baskets, spray them matte white and fill with a mound of pinecones and acorns rising about three inches above the rim and fixed in place with a glue gun. To animate a large table, intersperse the baskets with aged gourds.
BERRIES AND HIPS
I’ve never met a berry I didn’t covet—edible or not. In fall, tall, prickly, rich red-berried ilex branches are impressive and almost baroque anchored in large vases in hallways. Pokeweed, perhaps the most beautiful underappreciated weed of all, comes into glory this time of year with a profusion of deep fuchsia berries that grow in plume-shaped formations. (They stain like crazy, so keep them away from tablecloths.) If you don’t go overboard deadheading your roses, they’ll develop a network of full, rounded hips that make almost any flower arrangement seem more stylish. Every fall and winter, I combine hips with red roses. Packed generously into clear vases perched on small side tables in my living room, they’re a ravishing reminder that no matter where you live, there are plenty of party props right outside your back door.