Who says autumn decorations always have to be brown and orange? Bring a clean, serene look to your tabletop this year with shades of white and beige, accented with gold. Unified by a neutral palette, the surprising contrast of rugged burlap, weathered wood, and gilt-edged dinnerware imparts a subtle elegance to the mix.
Tuck stalks of wheat into the arrangement at a low angle, keeping the dried materials well away from the candles' flames.
1. Use the old wooden dough bowl, breadboard, or wooden serving tray for a base. Add the neutral-color candles, varying the position of the flames to soften the light and give the centerpiece interest and balance.
2. Make sure the candles rest flat on the bottom of the container so there's no danger that they'll fall over. Avoid scented candles -- they will compete with the aroma of the food and can become overpowering when grouped.
3. For safety, anchor the candles to the container with florist's wax, then carefully arrange the gourds and squash around them, working from the inside out. You may need to use florist's wax to hold the gourds where you want them. Toothpicks also can be used to keep an arrangement of gourds in place, but once the skin of the gourd is pierced it will decay faster.
4. To use a gourd as a candleholder, trim the stem end so it's flat. Secure the candle to the gourd with two or three long nails pushed into the bottom of the candle. Keep the sizes of the gourds and squash in scale with the candles and each other, but vary the texture and type.