Decorate for fall on a budget the ‘Great Expectations’ way

Nothing says “autumn” like overpriced fake plastic pumpkins from a factory in China. Add some orange glitter and, wow, that’s classy. But for those of us without extra cash to spend on autumnal decor, here are some tricks to make your home look like October has exploded in your house without breaking your piggy bank.

Spiders are your friends. Nothing says October like fake cobwebs. Here’s a trick — use real ones instead. Every time you catch a spider creeping down a wall or inhabiting a doorway, release it back into your home and say: “Thanks for decorating.” Dust and decay will also add to the aesthetic. Abandon your broom by the unswept porch. That’ll look great.

Let dinner double as decor. Grocery store shelves overflow with every type of squash imaginable right now. Roasted spaghetti squash with olive oil, chopped basil, a can of diced tomatoes and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese makes for a delicious fall meal. Baked acorn squash sprinkled with butter, cinnamon and sugar tastes like a dream. But will your family eat any of this? Probably not. Those squashes you purchased that your kids are now begging you not to cook will make your kitchen counters look like a harvest festival.

Set the mood with candy wrappers. Unwrapped candy signifies sweetness, and when you find their wrappers scattered across your carpet, you’ll be glad you went ahead and bought Halloween candy early. How fun are the “fun-sized” varieties? So fun that they make your kids forget how to use a trashcan.

Create ambiance with candles. Striking a match to light a unnecessary open flame is a great way to say: “Yes, world, summer has died and I’m preparing for the harsh reality of a desolate future.” Achieving a similar impact with battery-operated candles is also possible. How many batteries will you use this season and then be too lazy to recycle? Don’t worry. No one cares. Even better, fill your home with chemical fragrances from burning soy wax. That’s a great way to tell your family you love them.

Throw an epic Halloween party. Nobody knows how to host a ghoulish get-together like Miss Havisham from”Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens. You, too, can serve a feast that will be the stuff of legends. Take out your best dishes, lay the table, set out the food, and then leave it there until December. As the days go by, the decor will ripen and fill your house with a lovely aroma that makes you think of fallen leaves, mildew and dead bodies. Eat your heart out, pumpkin spice.

Friends, sweater weather is here. Pull on your boots and enjoy a mug of cider. It’s the best time of the year — until December, that is. Come back in a few months when I share tips on decorating for Christmas.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at [email protected]