Decorating Your Loved One’s Headstone This Fall

As the crisp breeze of autumn sweeps through the air, many of us feel a deep connection to our loved ones who've passed on. With its rich hues and comforting scents, the fall season presents the perfect opportunity to celebrate their favorite autumn memories.

Decorating your loved one’s resting place can be a therapeutic experience full of love, warmth, and cherished memories. The beauty of fall is a gentle reminder that even in the cycle of life and death, there is always renewal and hope.

Here are some unique ideas to decorate your loved one’s headstone or niche, which could help bring you comfort and warm memories.

Easy Rock Painting with Leaves

Consider painting rocks with beautiful fall leaf prints to get hands-on and craft something unique.

Painted rocks don’t just add beauty, but they also hold deep meaning. Stones on graves are an ancient tradition in many cultures, marking visits and signifying respect. You’ll find stones or pebbles in Jewish cemeteries. Ancient Jewish traditions held that placing a stone on a grave would anchor the soul to this realm. This belief comes from the Talmud, or code of Jewish religious law, that says a person’s soul dwells in their buried grave. Because of this, visitors place stones on graves to keep the departed “where they belong.”

Whether you follow the tradition or simply love the aesthetics, painted rocks can be a touching tribute.

How to Paint Rocks with Leaves

You’ll need rocks or large stones, preferably with a smooth side. Other supplies: leaves of various sizes and shapes, paintbrushes, whisk broom, and acrylic paint in fall colors.


  1. Begin by collecting rocks and leaves. Even if you only have larger leaves, part of a leaf can still make a stunning design.
  2. Ensure your rocks are clean and dry. Use the whisk broom to remove loose dirt or debris.
  3. Choose your paint colors (yellows, oranges, reds, and browns). Apply as many coats as needed for a rich hue.
  4. Once your rocks are dry, paint the back of your leaves. Applying the paint here often brings out more detail in the print.
  5. Press your painted leaf onto the rock, then gently lift it to see your created magic.

You can also use this technique on pumpkins and other gourds.

Take Advantage of Fall Flowers

Fall brings a medley of rich and warm colors, and numerous flowers bloom this season, making them apt choices for decorating a loved one’s resting place. Here’s a list of fall flowers that can beautifully adorn a memorial:

  • Chrysanthemums (Mums): Perhaps the most iconic fall flower, mums come in various colors, including yellow, rust, burgundy, and orange.
  • Asters: These star-shaped flowers are usually purple or pink and are known to attract butterflies.
  • Marigolds: Their bright yellow and orange hues perfectly encapsulate the spirit of fall.
  • Sunflowers: With their radiant beauty, sunflowers are the epitome of fall. Because sunflowers turn to face the sun throughout the day, they are often associated with deep loyalty and faithfulness.
  • Goldenrod: With its bright yellow sprays, goldenrod adds a wildflower touch.
  • Dahlias: They come in many colors, shapes, and sizes, but the deep red and orange dahlias are particularly autumnal.
  • Sedum (Autumn Joy): These change color as the season progresses, shifting from pink to deep bronze.
  • Celosia: The red, yellow, and orange plume varieties add a unique texture and hue to an arrangement.
  • Ornamental Peppers: While not a traditional flower, these small peppers in reds, yellows, and purples can add a touch of autumnal vibrancy.
  • Cosmos: While they can bloom in summer, some varieties continue into the cooler fall months, adding pinks, whites, and deep burgundy.
  • Anemone (Fall-blooming varieties): These delicate flowers can be found in pink or white and can bring a touch of elegance.
  • Nasturtiums: Their orange, yellow, and red flowers add color and are edible!

When choosing flowers for a headstone, consider their longevity once picked and their resistance to the sometimes unpredictable weather of the fall months. When freshly picked, some flowers can remain vibrant for a few days, allowing for a more extended tribute period before they wilt.

Use Clear Nail Polish to Preserve Flowers Longer

Clear nail polish can add a protective coating to flowers and enhance their appearance by giving them a shiny finish. However, while clear nail polish can help preserve the color and look of the petals temporarily, it isn’t a long-term preservation solution. If you want to keep flowers for an extended period, other methods like pressing, drying, or using silica gel might be more effective.

If you want to use clear nail polish for short-term projects, here’s how you can do it:

Choose Fresh Flowers

Make sure the flowers are fresh and blemish-free. Dry them thoroughly if there’s any moisture on the petals.

Apply the Nail Polish

Gently apply a thin coat of clear nail polish to the petals. Ensure the entire petal surface is covered, but avoid applying it too thickly.

Tip: If you use the provided brush, you might not be able to use it for your nails. You should use an inexpensive small paintbrush instead.

Let Flowers Dry

Allow the flowers to dry completely in a well-ventilated area to ensure the nail polish sets correctly. This usually takes a few hours.

Flowers Are Ready for Crafts

Once dry, you can use the flowers in crafts, jewelry, or any other projects where you want a glossy finish on the petals. Here’s an easy DIY for a floral wreath.

Honor Your Football Fan

Leaving tokens from a loved one’s favorite college football team is a heartfelt way to pay homage to their passion and keep their spirit alive. It is a beautiful reminder of the shared moments, games watched together, and the camaraderie you felt.

Here’s what decorating a permanent memorial with tokens from a favorite college football team might include.

Miniature Team Flags

Small flags featuring the college football team’s emblem or mascot can be gently inserted into the ground near the headstone. They’ll flutter with the breeze, adding a touch of vibrancy and pride.

Team-Colored Ribbons or Flowers

Choose flowers or ribbons in the team’s colors and arrange them in a bouquet or wreath around the headstone. This pop of color can be both subtle and symbolic.

Team Pennant

A small pennant or banner of the team can be draped on the headstone or hung from a nearby plant or decoration.

Customized Plaques

Plaques inscribed with the loved one’s name, dates, and a special message alongside the football team’s emblem can be a permanent tribute. Depending on the cemetery’s regulations, these plaques can either be placed near the headstone or attached.

Miniature Football

Place a miniature football near the headstone, perhaps with signatures from family and friends.

Team Mascot

Whether the University of Georgia’s bulldog (Uga) or Bevo, the longhorn steer from the University of Texas, a team mascot is an easy and touching tribute to a number one fan.

Photo Frame

Another touching tribute is a framed photo of the loved one at a game or wearing team colors. You can purchase a weatherproof frame but use a regular one for a glass-front niche.

College and professional sports mascots and symbols are becoming popular for cremation pedestals and markers. For ardent fans, fulfilling their wish for a permanent memorial with an enduring tribute to their favorite team or sport is the ultimate way to pay respect.

Permanent Memorials Link Past, Present, and Future Family Members

A dedicated space allows family and friends to visit, grieve, and find closure. Remembering and honoring a loved one can be therapeutic and help heal. Permanent memorials, whether a traditional grave, a columbarium niche, or a private family estate, offer a place for quiet reflection. It’s a space to connect with one’s thoughts and feelings.

Your ShareLife funeral provider can show you the many options for permanent placement after cremation. Click here to find a location near you.