How To Decorate For Fall With Natural Dried Gourds

How to add natural dried gourds to your fall decor, where to get them, and how to make them beautiful.

dried gourds in dough bowl with eucalyptus

As the bright colors of summer start to melt into the cozy and saturated hues of autumn, it’s time to welcome the beauty of the harvest season into our homes. One of the most charming elements you can incorporate into your fall decor is a collection of dried gourds. Dressing up these gourds is an easy craft project, and I promise you don’t have to dry gourds on your own! Inspired by nature, these decorations can effortlessly bring the outdoors in. What follows are creative ways to use dried gourds to transform your home into a snug and inviting place to celebrate fall.

What Is The Drying Process?

Drying ornamental gourds is a common practice to preserve them for decorative purposes, such as bird houses, home decor, or musical instruments. Bottle gourds are the most popular, but apple gourds, dipper gourds, and martin gourds are interesting, and easy to find. The large gourds featured here are martin gourds, and the tiny ones are bottle gourds. Martin gourds are very popular because they make the most amazing birdhouses.

The gourds must be harvested before the first frost, and when they are completely mature. They are cleaned with a dry brush or cloth, and then cured in a warm, dry location. The gourds must be kept off the ground to avoid the growth of mold, and generously spaced to allow for good air circulation. When the gourds are completely dried, the outer shell will become very hard. If you shake a dried gourd, you can hear the seeds rattle around inside.

supplies needed to stain dried gourds

Where to Get Dried Gourds

If you don’t grow your own gourds, which I don’t, and if you don’t have access to a gourd farm, the best option is to buy them online. It just takes a simple Google search to find what you need. Look for gourds that are in good shape, and that still have the stem attached. Gourds with stems are hard to find, but it’s worth it to look!

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Best Sources for Dried Gourds

It’s perfectly OK to display dried gourds in your fall decor as is, with no embellishment. They are a neutral khaki color, and blend with any color scheme. To take them up a notch and add some interest, it’s fun to either paint or stain them. Staining is easy and quick, so that’s the route I chose to take.

Supplies Needed

dried gourds hanging on twine in kitchen

How To Stain For A Unique Look

  • To make staining the tiny gourds easier, simply tie them on a piece of twine, and hang the twine on kitchen cabinet handles.
  • Make sure your gourds are clean and dry.
  • Using a sponge brush, begin applying stain to the top half of a gourd. Hold the gourd from the bottom and apply the stain about two-thirds of the way down the gourd.
applying stain to dried gourds
  • Feather out the edge of the stain. This will make it super easy to stain the bottom part of the gourd.
  • Let the gourd dry, and then stain the bottom half.
  • For best results, apply a light coat of spray matte sealer when the stain has completely dried. 
stained dried gourds

Tips for Applying The Stain

  • If you have gourds that no longer have their stems, it’s necessary to stain the gourd in two parts, as I indicated above. Tip for drying the bottoms: place the gourds upside down in glasses or mugs.
  • It’s very easy to stain a gourd that still has the stem attached. Simply hold the gourd gently by the stem, and stain the entire gourd all at once. Set it on a piece of wax paper to dry. It might stick a little, but it will be OK.
  • Definitely use whatever stain you have on hand, and whatever color you like best. If using gel stain, it’s a bit tacky even when it’s dry. It’s necessary to apply the matte sealer for a smooth finish on the gourds.
  • A little bit of stain goes a long way. Spread it out by dragging the sponge brush in long strokes over the gourds. You want some of the original gourd color to come through.
  • This is a very simple and straight-forward craft project. You want your gourds to look rustic, so we’re not going for perfection. Take it slow, and enjoy the process!

​Adding Gourds To Your Fall Decor

Style a dough bowl.

Dough bowls and dried gourds are such a pretty pair. Begin by simply placing any kind of greenery in the bottom of your dough bowl. I used a faux eucalyptus garland. Add the gourds, tilting them in different directions, and nestling them into the greenery. Add some little gourds or pumpkins if desired. For very little effort, you get a stunning result!

stained dried gourd on fall mantel

Add them to mantel decor. 

Add soft and round interest to a straight mantel by sprinkling gourds among other accessories. Place them randomly around candles, lanterns, pumpkins, and other fall-inspired elements.

stained dried gourds in dough bowl with eucalyptus

Use them to make a banner. 

By using the same idea as the drying method featured above, you can make a dried gourd banner that’s simple and stylish. Add a touch of the unexpected by using pinecones or acorns mixed in with the little gourds. Simply tie the gourds and pinecones to a piece of twine, and string it up for a little dose of autumn charm.

Time For Us

I’ve said many times that I realize we all don’t have time for craft projects. There’s planning, shopping, and the actual time to complete the craft. Just keep in mind that you deserve a break, and if crafting is something you love, you owe it to yourself to carve out time to make it happen. So simply said, just do it!

​More Fall Inspiration

The Ultimate Guide To
Celebrating Fall

A collection of 100 autumn decor ideas, fun crafts, fall wreaths, and yummy recipes all in one place. It’s the ultimate guide to fall, and provides easy links to find exactly what you are looking for!.

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10 Comments

  1. LOVE your stained gourds!

  2. I plan to make theses. Why do I need the scissors?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Kathy…I used the scissors to cut the twine for hanging the tiny gourds. You don’t need them if you skip the twine. Thanks!

  3. Thank you so much for this idea- very different!

  4. Love this idea! Looks easy with an elegant result.

  5. Love the gourds, especially when they are stained. Lots of farms where I live, should be able to find them close by. Your posts are so creative! Thank you.

  6. What a great idea! That shade of brown stain works so well with your light colored greenery.

  7. Those gourds are gorgeous! I’m hoping I can grow my own next year. I love the stain!

  8. Definitely pinning this one. They’re beautiful!

  9. These are lovely, Ann! I’ve never seen or heard of staining gourds but it definitely takes them up several notches for indoor home decor. Thanks!