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Modern fall decorations go beyond a pumpkin sitting on the porch. Crafty locals who have created their own seasonal wonderlands offer tips to make your own fall-themed centerpieces, seasonal wreaths and porch vignettes.

Halloween decorations have increased in popularity the past seven to eight years, said Barbara Scheeringa, owner of Scheeringa Farms in Highland.

“They buy Halloween lights and different decorations for their yard like inflatable pumpkins. A lot of people start their decorations early for fall,” she said, noting customers already had stopped in by mid-September.

She said popular decorations include pumpkins of various colors and sizes, corn stalks, mini straw bales, mums and Indian corn.

“You can make a fall centerpiece out of a pumpkin,” Scheeringa said. “You get a can or some type of container, put water in it and set it down into your pumpkin and then you put your fresh flowers on top.”

Caitlin Ferrell, of Michigan City, makes her own holiday wreaths, finding inspiration from nature.

“I’ve always liked making things. I like going to stores that sell home décor just to get ideas for my next project.  I’m always like, ‘Hmm, I could make that, but better.’ ” 

Ferrell said she doesn’t like spending a lot of money on seasonal items because they only get used for a few months of the year. 

“Cutesy seasonal items are OK in moderation, but generally I like to bring a little bit of seasonal nature from outside to inside. … A crafter’s best friend is a glue gun. Pinterest is a close second these days.”

Crafters can spend as much or as little as they would like on supplies. 

“Of course you can buy plain wreaths and faux flowers at the craft store, but check out the dollar store, too,” she said. The seasonal aisle features wreath add-ons like gourds, bird nests, wooden letters or numbers for your initials or house number and ribbon. Gather your supplies, heat up that glue gun and get sticking.”

Ferrell said not to let a project intimidate you.

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“I’ve never found anything to be more difficult than I imagined it would be. Find a picture of something you’d like to make or take a picture of something you see in the store then take it with you to buy the supplies. If you make it, you’re always guaranteed to get exactly what you want.”

Rose Domsic, of Dean's Garden Center in Schererville, also uses natural inspiration for decorating ideas.

Pumpkins are not just for jack-o-lanterns. Simple and inexpensive tricks can give them an upgrade, she said. To make beautiful containers, fill a pumpkin with end of season cut flowers, leaves, branches, herbs, vegetables and fruit from the garden. 

“The possibilities are simply endless," Domsic said. "Tuck in store bought mums, roses or lillies for some high-end magic.”

Using the same idea, “stuffed” pumpkins can be stacked into topiaries in an exterior planter and hold an arrangement for a door entrance.

“With some exterior lighting you would have a beautiful entry door decoration,” she said.

Pumpkins can be carved, cut into pieces and reassembled into other forms.

“Think playful animals, flowers and jack-o-lantern forms," she said. "Whimsy has no limit.”

Domsic’s favorite fall décor involves using end of season cut flowers, leaves and herbs combined with small mums and roses in a vodka shooter glass used as a vase. 

These small arrangements can be placed throughout the house. 

“I use this idea to get me though bad winters,” she said. “I buy a half-dozen roses on sale and make six shooter bouquets. The historic term would be a ‘tussy mussy’ bouquet.”

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