Among many other things, Samhain is the last of the harvest festivals, so I have always liked to decorate my home and altar with some of the crops and foods available in late autumn. Of course, this includes the usual suspects of gourds and squash–what would Samhain in America be without the jack-o’-lantern?–but other foods are harvested throughout October. In the Pacific Northwest, October sees the last major apple harvest, as well as the bulk of our wine grape harvest, and the decorative Indian corn has fully dried by this point. We’re also usually able to find all manner of acorns and nuts in the woods, and there’s usually late-blooming mums about, as well as all manner of interesting dried leaves, poppy pods, and other items that could be decoratively used in creating your “still life” tableau. I think the last of the sunflowers would make an excellent addition, as would the final blooms of black-eyed susans. Pine cones could also be an interesting element.
Finally, since the new grapes of the year ripen at this time, I have a small tradition of placing a bottle of local wine from the previous year’s vintage on the altar. I feel that this helps me keep a connection between the year gone by and the one to come. (I also feel that when I leave the Pacific Northwest, I won’t worry so much about the ‘local’ part of this.)