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When to Decorate for Fall in the Midwest

Thinking about back to school = Thinking about the Autumn season! The kiddies are heading back NOW. So what’s that mean for your autumnal decor schedule? Read on for my thoughts on when to decorate for fall.

White double pumpkin DIY decor with materials from Michael’s was first on the scene in 2022!
Use Nature as a guide for when to decorate for fall.
Watkins Glen, New York
Early October

Go with the flow of Nature.

Now this means something a little different across the US–and the globe. Which is why, in my opinion, this is the Number One thing to plan your decorating by. And that makes the specific “when” timeline a bit tricky! So to keep it simple here, I’m just talking about when to decorate for fall IN THE MIDWEST.

The kids are back in school

If you’ve got kids, this is probably going to free up your schedule a bit. So make it easy on yourself and don’t try to do a seasonal decor change until you’ve got the time to make it enjoyable!

The air temps start to cool down

I don’t feel like decorating for fall until those high humidity days and balmy nights start to become cooler evenings and crispier mornings. That’s usually when I will look at the calendar and figure out when I can make the time to switch up the decor. For me, in Indianapolis, that shift tends to be around the end of August.

Soak up those late summer days but plan ahead on when to decorate for fall.
Soak up those falling late summer temps with a picnic!

As soon as that calendar clicks over to September, I’m mentally gearing up for all the meditative magic of Autumn and thinking about when to decorate for fall.

However. I usually use the Autumn Equinox as my target date for interior decorating to be done. And anytime after the Equinox I feel changing up the outside decor is fair game.

What is the Autumn Equinox, you may be wondering? In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the point between the longest day (Summer Solstice) and longest night (Winter Solstice) of the year. On the Equinox (Fall and Spring), the hours of light and dark are the same–they’re balanced. On the Autumn Equinox, the balance will soon tip towards shorter days and longer nights. While you’ve probably been noticing the changing angle of the sun and sunset happening earlier, the Equinox is pretty much the point where you can no longer deny it. Winter Is Coming. (Yes, yes. Game of Thrones reference. I hate how it ended but I still love the series. And all the great meme content it provided us.)

When to plan for fall decorating also depends on your social calendar! Last year we were in Scotland.
Last year I shifted my fall decorating schedule around our epic trip to Scotland! Ruins in town of St Andrew’s. September 5, 2022.

When to decorate for fall vs When to decorate for Halloween

I am a Spooky Season and Halloween FAN. That first weekend in October–look out. Halloween decorations are HAPPENING. If you’re also big into Halloween decorating, let me tell you. It’s a consideration when you’re trying to figure out when to decorate for fall.

Why? Well. If you’ve already got your “Fall” decor in place, all you need to do is layer in your Halloween. Then–pull out Halloween and you’ve got the option to pop in Thanksgiving decor! I wrote a handy post about how to be a smart Autumnal season decorator in this post last year.
Think about it. How long will it take you to take down and properly put away the summery things? How long will it take you to put up the fall decorations? I typically plan for two days. One to take down, put away, and dust my newly freed-up surfaces. One day to haul out the fall decorations, take inventory, and do my decorating thing.

When to decorate for fall looks a little different for everyone in terms of time of day/night or how many uninterrupted hours you’ve got. I spread it out over two days because I’ve got other things to do! I may put in a couple hours in the morning taking down and packing up Summer. Then after dinner I might get around to tidying up and dusting.

I’ve reached a point where I’m not willing to put the pressure on myself to get it all done in one 8 hour stretch. And if I do knock it all out in one day, well then damn! I’m ahead of schedule, lol. Go me.

When to decorate for fall? How about. . .whenever you damn well please.

I mean… I will be judging you if you’re way ahead of Mother Nature’s timeline. Pumpkin Spice lattes at any point in August should NOT be a thing (looking at you, Starbucks! Quit trying to up your sales numbers with early release dates, sheesh).

I feel that seasonal decorating should flow with the season–not corporate businesses trying to make a few more millions. That being said. If you’re just feeling the seasonal spirit, then that’s your own personal answer to “when to decorate for fall”. Just. . .maybe don’t decorate on the outside of your abode until you see a few of the neighbors putting their mums and pumpkins out. Or until you start seeing some of the leaves changing color. Which also tends to occur around the Fall Equinox and mid September.

Here’s my personal solid answer in terms of dates and planning the actual decorating for fall:

September 1st: Look ahead towards the Autumn Equinox and figure out when you can schedule time to take down summer, do a light cleaning, and put up fall decor inside your home.

For example: This year, 2023, the Equinox is on September 23. We’ve got out of town guests and are planing a dinner party at the house for them on September 22, so I want to have the house looking fall-festive for that. So I’ve got Thursday, Sept 14th-Friday, Sept 15th marked out for this year’s “when to decorate for fall”. I will do the interiors and probably get the lanterns with fairy lights and maybe some potted mums outside at the entrance. I will be swapping the current pink begonias out for some darker purple coleus in our two iron planters.

After the Fall Equinox, look at ideal dates to decorate outside your house.

With the Equinox on Saturday, September 23rd and our out of town guests that weekend, I’m looking at that following Friday/Saturday/Sunday. That’s September 29-October 1. This will be perfect, since the first full weekend in October is when I get alllllll our our spooky Halloween decor out! So we will have a few weeks of “fall” decor to celebrate the seasonal changes before the black cats, bats, and skulls come out. With the decorating schedule planned and spaced out, I also get to actually enjoy the process instead of feeling rushed about it.

When to decorate for fall outside the house? After the Autumn Equinox or you see a few neighbors getting festive.
September 22, 2021. We put all the Fall Vibes out front on the Autumn Equinox in 2021!

I hope this helps you in your own “when to decorate for fall” planning!
In the meantime, soak up these last late summer days.
It will be time to let them go and pick up that PSL in your black leggings and denim jacket before you know it!

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