Just like everything else this year, the fall season is going to look a little bit different. A lot of the traditional fall activities, like haunted houses and Halloween parties, may have to be put aside for safety reasons due to the pandemic. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t keep the spirit of the season alive — particularly if you have kids.
When you’re operating on a budget, finding inexpensive, fun things to do with your kids isn’t always easy. Well, we’ve got some ideas we’re willing to share. Here are some of our top ideas for autumn fun for the whole family:
Carve Jack-o-lanterns and Roast the Seeds
Pumpkins are cheap, and there’s nothing that screams “fall” like a few jack-o-lanterns on the front porch. If you’re ready to decorate, head to the nearest pick-your-own pumpkin patch or just grab a few prime specimens at your local grocery store when you pick up a basic carving kit.
If your kids are too young to handle the carving themselves, that’s okay. Hand them a Sharpie marker and let them draw the face on their pumpkin for you to carve. Alternately, you can break out the finger paints and let the kids go wild. Whatever you decide, the finished jack-o-lanterns will make a merry addition to your holiday decor.
Don’t forget to roast the seeds you take out when you’re done! Freshly roasted pumpkin seeds are a time-honored delight, and they’re easy to do. If you haven’t yet introduced your kids to this particular fall treat, now is definitely the time.
Hold a Scary Movie Extravaganza
Just because the haunted hayrides are out this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t share a few chills and thrills. Holding movie night at home can ultimately be a lot cheaper than going somewhere else for scares — plus you get to skip the lines and cuddle up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn to share, instead.
If you’re short on ideas for movies that the whole family can enjoy, some of our favorites include:
- “The Corpse Bride”
- “The Nightmare Before Christmas”
- “The Little Vampire”
If your kids are older (or once the little ones are in bed), you can switch to something with low-key chills and thrills, like “Hocus Pocus” or “Beetlejuice” to kick off the season just right.
Go on a Hike and Look at the Leaves
Craving a little of that fresh, fall air? Well, you don’t have to pay money to walk the trails of your local park and look at all the leaves. If you grab a backpack with crayons and paper, however, you can actually sneak in a fun learning experience for your kids.
Have your kids gather up a few of the prettiest leaves they can find from the ground and create leaf rubbings on the paper with the crayons. Once you get home again, you can use the internet to help your kids identify the type of tree each leaf came from (without actually bringing the leaves home with you). You can also hang their favorite rubbings on the wall or fridge for a little more fall-themed decoration inside your home.
Get out in the Yard and Rake the Leaves
Okay, nobody really enjoys yardwork all that much — but you can make raking leaves fun (although it will take a bit longer) if you involve the kids.
The basic idea is this: You hand everyone a rake (even if it’s just a toy) and start to work. Once you have a big enough pile, let the kids take turns jumping in the leaves to their hearts’ content. Rake, jump and repeat until the kids tire out.
While it’s probably not going to get your yard cleared of leaves in a hurry, the giggles you hear from the kids and the memories you make will surely be worth a little extra work.
Share Some Treats Around a Fire Pit
If you have a fire pit in your backyard, fall is the best time to use it — particularly when it comes time to break out the graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate. Gather up the ingredients you need and gather your clan around the bonfire to enjoy a time-honored fall tradition: S’mores. (There’s really nothing sweeter than spending some quality time with your family, but S’mores come pretty close.)
This is also a great time to share other fall favorites, like spiced apple cider or caramel apples. There’s also nothing wrong with breaking out the hotdogs and making dinner outdoors while the weather is still mild!
Create a Treasure Hunt for Candy
If you’re leery about taking the kids trick-or-treating this year, you can still let them dress up and go on a hunt for candy. Bundle a few pieces of candy in little paper bags or wrap them up with ribbon and tuck them around the house for the kids to find — just like you might Easter Eggs.
The kids are guaranteed to have a blast, and you won’t have to worry about their safety while they do it.
Ultimately, family fun is all about slowing down, spending time together and enjoying the delights that life has to offer. After the rush of summer, fall is the perfect time to step back, reflect and embrace all of the natural wonders around you — and that doesn’t have to cost you much of anything.