Around here I talk a lot about decorating.

Okay—sometimes I talk about Lee Press On Nails and shopping the side of the road and bad hair days and football and the best cookies on the planet.

But decorating is definitely number one at the top of my talking-about list.

However today?

Today I’m going to share a story that’s not for the faint of heart—a cautionary tale.


I shuddered and cringed a little bit even typing the words to this post.

It’s a story that needs to be told.

So instead of talking about decorating right now? Instead of showing you a mantel or a coffee table or a staircase or front porch festooned with pumpkins and leaves and lanterns and garland.


I’m going to discuss the ONE THING you should never decorate with for fall.

Fall is the season to bring the outside in.

I love shopping the yard for all the fall decor. Just between us, there’s nothing prettier for fall than a branch that’s full of leaves that have dried perfectly in place with all the fall colors.

When you bring the branch in and add it to a vase and leave the leaves exactly how you found them?

It looks fancy.

It looks professional.

It looks like art.

Several years ago I was planning a party and walked outside and saw branches full of leaves just like that in the most beautiful fall colors with acorns all over the ground and I was inspired.

I was having a party and I wanted to create a truly authentic fall feel for the house—so I brought the outside in.

Just like they do in the magazines.

I don’t have a picture of the display.

I was in a hurry and didn’t take pictures, but I found this example so you can get the idea. This is kind of the look, but instead of a birch vase like this (which was a much better choice), I used giant glass urns instead.

I added acorns from the yard as the base and tucked branches into them and strung tiny bits of twine from branch to branch and wrote thankful quotes on pieces of paper and tied them onto the twine.

Isn’t that the cutest idea?

Can I tell you how amazing I thought I was?


All that fall glory for free.

People came to the party and ooohed and ahhed and told me how much they loved the idea of going all Little House on the Prairie and decorating with nature.

And I decided right then and there—why ever decorate with anything else? I told myself that I was never wasting another dime on store-bought decorations when nature had already done such an amazing job.

And think of all the money I’d save on fall decor.

Visions of dried leaf garland and acorn garland and acorns on branches and acorn wreaths and the house swagged with all the fall that I had I gathered from my yard.

I was going to be literally the most brilliant fall decorator on the planet.


Until a week later when I was cleaning and something caught my eye.

A wiggle.

What in the world?

I thought it was a trick of sunlight. So I walked up closer and looked at the bottom of the vase.


I cannot.

I will not.

I am completely and utterly unable to say out loud what was coming out of the acorns and wiggling all over the bottom of the vase—and just between us that vase WAS FULL TO THE BRIM OF WIGGLES.

We are not discussing what it was that I found in those acorns.

You are probably drinking coffee right now and I want to still be friends.

Just know that I took the urns and those acorns outside back where they came from…..

…..never to return again.

And now I buy all my acorns in plastic bags from the store.

Because sometimes nature is amazing and wonderful and brilliant and awe-inspiring…..

….especially when it’s left outside. 🙂

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disclosure: affiliate links are used in this post.

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  1. Image for Joan McCormick Joan McCormick

    The same thing happened to me! Only my acorns were still in a box in the garage, thank goodness. I noticed a wiggle, then saw the ????, screamed and threw them out. Life lessons 🙂

  2. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    Lol. Lesson learned. I have to be honest with you, no matter what I bring in from outside, hydrangeas, flowers, branches I always soak the. Outside in some warm dawn water. I am one of those , afraid of bugs, women. But I am not sure I would soak acorns but now I know not to bother. Thanks for the laugh.

  3. Image for Cindy Cindy

    That's why I cleaned and baked all my real acorns. I have never had an issue. Mine have been used for years. That being said bringing real branches of leaves has always concerned me for that very reason.

  4. Image for Betsy Betsy

    My issue was stink bugs. How could I not see them on the branches!!! The following week I saw my eye doctor and ordered new glasses.

  5. Image for Barbara Slattery Barbara Slattery

    Omigosh happened to me too, except in my case it was one of my dinner guests that noticed the little vase wigglers that I had been so puffed up about....I also get my decor acorns from the local craft store ...

  6. Image for Linda Linda

    One year my live Christmas 🎄 tree was the culprit! Every day when I came home from work, there would be flies on my ceiling. This was winter, there shouldn't be flies! Apparently the fly eggs were dormant on the tree. The warmth of my home allowed them to hatch. They didn't really fly around, just hung out on the ceiling.

  7. Image for Diana Diana

    You are so funny, but I heard someone say last week that "something" grew in acorns, but never said what. Who knew? Thanks for the laugh Monday not my favorite day :)

  8. Image for Mary Ellen Tascoe Mary Ellen Tascoe

    Thanks for the Monday laugh! I have also brought in acorns from the outdoors....I was lucky to never have seen any wiggles 🍂🤣but now I will for sure not bring the outdoors in! Have a wonderful rest of your day!

  9. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    I had a large apple basket filled with brown paper on the bottom…and pumpkins and acorns on the top that I added to the front porch…I then had a thought that I might have created a perfect spot for snakes! It got moved to the screened porch! Yikes!

  10. Image for Kim Kim

    I dont have any acorns around my house, so that is not a problem. I had to google what grows in acorns to find out what they are. Bugs are gross in any shape form or fashion. I still bring in things to decorate with from the outside, but dry everything completely so no problems here yet. I live on 6 acres of woods, its hard not to bring stuff in and enjoy it for a little while longer. Wild flowers, leaves etc. I guess I will do a little more investigating before bringing things in. Thanks for the heads up Karianne you are always looking out for us. Kim

  11. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    *Gulp* oh my word. Yikes x a trillion. I'd have lost it too, KA. I'd have screamed bloody heck till y'all heard me in Texas! You must've been absolutely shocked. EEEEWWWWW!!!!!! I don't have any oak trees (so no acrons) but I have lots and lots of pine cones. I read to bake them first to kill anything icky. But wiggly things are worse than bugs and bugs are icky. / comfort hugs

  12. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    You gave me a good laugh! I remember you had trouble with pinecones once too! Trying to save money does not always work! Lol!!!

  13. Image for Linda Linda

    I just had a flashback, lol One Christmas we brought home our live tree from our favorite Christmas tree farm, and set it up in the living room. We came home from a basketball game one evening a few days later and there were MILLIONS of teeny tiny praying mantis ALL over the walls and ceiling in the living room! The kids ran screaming, I stood there in shock, and my husband preceded to vacuum up the hatchlings. Apparently an egg sack on the tree hatched while we were gone. Probably better than the wiggly things, but NOT what you want to see all over your living room. :-) I prefer faux nature in the house anymore. HaHa

  14. Image for Martha Martha

    Just this week after bringing in a blooming geraniums, I’ve spotted a 3” praying mantis perched at my ceiling above the plants. Now I’ve lost track of him. They are an important agricultural insect not to be killed. What do I do??we’ve already named him Paul. 🤷‍♀️

    1. Image for Dee Dee

      Try to carefully catch it and return to outdoors. They are harmless and so important. Look around windows or screened doors, it will likely try to get outdoors.

  15. Image for Julie Julie

    I have used acorns and pinecones for Fall decorating AFTER I had washed them and placed them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven on the very lowest heat setting for about and hour. I store the acorns in a container and bring them out the next year. I always enjoy your stories and ideas, have a wonderful Fall season!

  16. Image for Yvonne Shafer Yvonne Shafer

    Corn stalks around the front door did me in! After hearing a “rustling sound” after leaving the house one day I immediately tore them down! Thanks for the warning about acorns!

  17. Image for Katherines Corner Katherines Corner

    Oops, my hubby filled a hat with acorns while I was in the market . He was so happy to give them to me. He said, " you can use these for one of your vignettes, right?" I didn't have the heart to tell him there were lots of little wiggles inside of them. So that I always bake my acorns, yes back them (smile). I line a tray with foil and put all the acorns on it then let them sit in the hot oven for 30 minutes. All the wiggles will dry up and you can use the acorns. But I actually like the artificial ones more. So No baking! When I saw the title of your post I instantly knew what you would be sharing. hugs!

  18. Image for karen sunday karen sunday

    My son put acorns in a shoe box he liked to collect things when he was a small child, Well it that box when we opened was a full on family, Ewwwww I just put some in a vase and that reminds me I need to go evict them now!!!

  19. Image for Susan J Susan J

    Oh dear! This reminds me of a decoration mistake I made several years ago (many years, if we are being honest). My grandmother crocheted me a beautiful lace-y tablecloth for the cake table at our wedding. White with a pineapple pattern of cotton, and it was an heirloom for the rest of my life and a thing to be cherished and passed down to future generations. I used it often and decided, one Fall, to put it out with small pumpkins and gourds and acorns and leaves from the yard and garden. It was a sight of autumnal beauty. UNTIL, the pumpkins and gourds rotted and molded inside the warm house…..and permanently turned those spots a moldy black. My prize tablecloth was ruined. So, being young and not knowing better, I soaked it in bleach to return it to its former glory only to have the bleach completely destroy the material! I kept it for a while hoping my aunt could repair it, but it was beyond repair and destined for the trash. A hard lesson learned.

  20. Image for Lana guill Lana guill

    I can just see you now!! 😂 I’ll sure remember this!! That’s a great idea and I’m Going to go get a branch in my yard now. 🍂🍁🌾

  21. Image for Calypso in the Country Calypso in the Country

    Oh no! I had a similar situation with a Christmas tree. Normally, we buy a cut tree from a Christmas tree lot. One year we thought it would be "fun" to go to a farm and cut our own. Well, after about a week, we started finding all kinds of weird bugs in our family room. Never again! Shelley

  22. Image for Rizae Rizae

    Thank You for the laugh this morning. I learned, the hard way, to bake all nuts and cones if using as decore many years ago. I now buy mine!!! LOL... Big Hugs

    1. Image for Jayne McLeod Jayne McLeod

      YOU made me laugh out loud with the I feel woozy right now .... great comment !! thanks for the laugh, hope you're feeling better !!

  23. Image for Dee Dee

    By now you have seen from comments that acorns should be baked on low for a couple of hours then they are good to go. I've had them until I knew to bake the acorns. Doesn't freak me out if insects get a ride into my house I just take of whatever the problem is with them. And as a commenter stated.....praying mantis pods are live Christmas trees....Just google so you can recognize the pod. Carefully cut the section of the branch it is attached to and place outdoors in a protected area and hopefully it will hatch next year. They can not hurt us. They are really interesting. So gather those acorns and bake and enjoy!

  24. Image for Vicki Vicki

    When I was young my mother had friends over to craft. They were making fall nut rings on a wooden circle that would hold a globe and candle when finished. They worked hard on their projects all afternoon and happily went home once their nut rings were completed. The next morning they checked out their nut rings that were on their dining room tables and worms were hatching form the acorns and bugs from the pinecones! Now I bake anything I am using in a nature project. Thanks for bringing back that funny memory of my mother and her friends!🍁🌾🍂

  25. Image for NMP NMP

    FYI Everyone, I thought that I would really make your day. My husband told me that there are 111 different species of acorn worms!!!!!!!!! Now, acorns will never enter my house. He showed me pictures while I was eating apple pie. I begged him NOT to show me apple worms.

  26. Image for NMP NMP

    FYI again, My husband thought he got me good. Acorn worms live in the sea. But acorns moths and acorn weevils actually live in acorns.

  27. Image for Jeannette Jeannette

    We got our tree from a farm where you cut it down yourself and ended up with tiny little black spiders all over my ceiling! I thought I was seeing things but all those teeny black things were moving! Nightmare!! Hard to fit a tree into an oven though so next time they shook the living daylights out of our tree that we got at the local hardware store! LOL! Thanks for the story - you are too too funny!

  28. Image for MaryBeth MaryBeth

    Karianne-Thanks for this really important PSA on acorns! In the spirit of Fall and Halloween and Thanksgiving just around the corner, I would also like to add another item to the DO NOT BRING INSIDE decorating mistakes list. Years ago, I was very excited to purchase some beautiful dried "Indian" Corn" to decorate for Fall. When Thanksgiving was over and Christmas decorating was in full swing, I stored my indian corn in the bottom of my hutch not giving it a second thought. Just before Christmas, my elderly Mom's health took a really serious turn, and we had to drop everything to travel out of state to be with her and my Dad. My husband returned home after Christmas, held down the home fort as best as he could, until we all made it back home for spring break at the end of March. The Christmas Tree was still standing upright, dried to a crisp with ornaments in place, and to my surprise when I opened that "hutch" a rush of flying "moths" entered the dining room. Never ever ever ever again......P.S. I wouldn't have traded those months with my parents and my children for anything in the whole wide world, and my hubby was the most patient man ever.....

  29. Image for Amy Amy

    Oh, boy!! You made me remember a story that I haven't thought of for years! When my 22 year old son was in second grade, he took an acorn into school for show and tell. A good six weeks later, his teacher called me to tell me there had been an incident at school. A classmate had noticed creepy crawlies coming out of my son's desk, and the whole class screamed. The teacher tried to handle it like a professional, and she helped my kids clean out his desk during recess. There, in all its glory, was that acorn that he was supposed to bring home. Only the creepy crawlies had chewed their way out of the acorn and out of the plastic bag it was in, and now his desk had them, and all the kids were grossed out. His teacher, though... such a caring sweetheart who took time to explain to the kids what had happened so he could redeem his reputation. Can't wait to bring this up next time I see my son! Haha! It was mortifying then but now it's pretty dang funny. Thanks for sharing your story-- not sure I would've remembered this goodie without yours.

  30. Image for Crystal Crystal

    Made me laugh. The same thing happened to me when I brought home 5 pounds of Indiana acorns and they sprouted little wormies. I promptly poured them into one of my gardening buckets and topped them with a liquid insecticide. Within a few hours all my wigglers were no longer wiggling. Now I just baked everything in a 375 degree oven for a couple of hours, that seems to kill everything. Lesson learned.

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