Gourds seem to scream autumn when you look at them, right up there with pumpkins and colored leaves. Any fall table set with decorations incorporating gourds can instantly bring a warm, seasonal feel to the dining room. Gourds are low-maintenance plants for the garden and can be found in the fall at most produce stores and supermarkets for a bargain, so take advantage of their availability.
If you think gourds have beautiful autumn colors on the outside, cut them open and take a look at the inside. Slice the top part off your gourds and hollow them out a bit by scooping out seeds to make the perfect spot for a votive candle. Make sure the gourds are fresh, as dried gourds can catch fire, and squirt them with a bit of lemon juice to keep them from browning. If they won't stand up, slice a bit off the bottom to make them stable. You can arrange a group of gourd candle holders on a serving platter for a stunning centerpiece.
Basket of Gourds
You don't need to get fancy when making a gourd centerpiece. One nice woven basket and a few things collected from your yard can make a picturesque table centerpiece. Dried grasses, leaves or raffia in the basket will make a soft bed to hold piles of gourds, apples, pears, nuts, pine cones, small pumpkins, Indian corn and acorns. Tuck in a few small branches to fill in spaces and create height. For a quick and low-fuss centerpiece, you don't even need the basket or extras; just place a small pile of assorted gourds in the center of the table.
Dried Painted Gourds
Dried gourds with a smooth surface can double as a canvas for acrylic paints. You can dry your own gourds or purchase lovely dried gourds from craft stores that are ready to be painted. Paint your initials for a simple yet elegant design. Make a small house for a cute country-style look. If you are skilled with a brush, paint an elaborate fall scene around it. If it's too rounded to stand up on its own, use a grapevine wreath as a base to hold it up.
Convert a large gourd into a vase. Slice off the top of a fresh gourd, completely hollow it out with a melon ball scoop or sturdy spoon, and dry it for a few hours in an oven set on low. Stand your gourd decoration up on the table and use dried or silk flowers to make an arrangement. Keep the grapevine wreath handy if the gourd needs help standing up.