Fall is, without a doubt, my favorite time of the year. I have to admit that this is partially because the colder weather marks the end of swimsuit season (and means that I no longer need to routinely shave my legs), but I can also say that I love fall mostly because of the many great seasonal activities that families can enjoy together.
Looking for a laundry list of fun ways to celebrate fall? Look no further — just take your pick from the list below. How many do you think you can check off before the first snow falls and the seasons change once more?
1. Go apple picking. Find a local orchard and spend the day picking your favorite variety straight from the tree.
2. Make caramel apples. You can buy them in the store, but homemade caramel apples just taste better. Plus, making them is a fun, easy project for kids.
3. Bake an apple pie. Or, if baking a pie from scratch intimidates you, try this No-Bake Apple Pie recipe.
4. Make homemade applesauce. It's ridiculously easy (and it's a great way to use up all those apples you picked).
5. Go on a hayride.
6. Sit around a campfire (or fire pit) and tell ghost stories. For maximum effect, this should be done after dark.
7. Make your own scarecrow. Stuff old clothes with hay, and use a pumpkin or an old pillowcase for the head.
8. Decorate your home for Halloween. See the Parenting Squad article Halloween Decorating Made Easy For Busy Families for inspiration.
9. Make your Halloween costumes. It's never too early to plan your costumes, particularly if you'll be making your own instead of buying them at the store.
10. Boo your neighbors . This Halloween tradition is a variation of the ding-dong-ditch game, but it's a lot more fun since it also involves a goodie basket of Halloween-themed treats.
11. Drink pumpkin beer. Obviously, this is an adults-only activity. The seasonal pumpkin beers disappear quickly after Thanksgiving, so act quickly if you plan to indulge.
12. Eat pumpkin ice cream. You can also make your own by combining vanilla custard with a can of pumpkin pie filling.
13. Visit a pumpkin patch.
14. Attend local harvest celebrations. Frequently, local churches and other organizations host fall festivals. Some of them are free, and they're almost always all fun.
15. Carve a jack-o-lantern.
16. Roast pumpkin seeds. You have to do something with them after carving your jack-o-lantern, right?
17. Make a pumpkin seed necklace. If you don't want to eat them, use them for a craft!
18. Paint pumpkins. Jack-o-lanterns look spookier on the porch at night, but painted pumpkins look great inside the house at any time of day. Added bonus? Kids can paint the faces themselves.
19. Make pumpkin pie. Or pumpkin muffins. Or pumpkin cookies. Or pumpkin bread. Anything pumpkin is a good way to celebrate the season.
20. Serve a hearty soup or stew for dinner. Chili and pot roast are my favorite go-to fall meals.
21. Get ready for some football! Whether it's an NFL team or just your local high school, fall is all about football. Dress in your team colors, whip up some snacks, and then settle in to watch the game.
22. Play flag football. You don't just have to watch football. Take advantage of the cool weather and get a family or neighborhood game going in your backyard.
23. Play in the leaves. Raking leaves might be work, but jumping in the piles is all fun.
24. Take a nature walk and collect leaves.
25. Preserve a leaf. Save those beautiful fall leaves you collect forever!
26. Collect acorns. Talk about squirrels and how animals store food for the winter.
27. Go for a scenic drive. Enjoy the fall foliage.
28. Make easy fall crafts. Even if you're not so crafty, I've got you covered.
29. Go shopping. Buy sweaters and boots and other cold-weather essentials.
30. Drink hot apple cider. Add cinnamon sticks (and maybe a little dark rum for the grown-ups).
31. Go through a corn maze. Or a hay maze if you can't find one made of corn.
32. Visit a haunted house. This is a fun fall activity if you have older children, or younger ones who don't scare easily,
33. Visit a local working farm. Cool fall weather makes it a great time of year to visit a real farm, and many farms have special fall activities that you can enjoy.
34. Throw a Halloween party. Give your kids a budget, and then let them plan games and prepare treats for a few friends.
35. Host a fall harvest party. If you don't celebrate Halloween, or just want to celebrate the harvest season, these are great step-by-step instructions for throwing your own harvest party.
36. Make your own jams and preserves. Canning and preserving is a traditional fall activity.
37. Learn about the history of Halloween.
38. Bob for apples.
39. Make a Halloween gingerbread house. Gingerbread houses aren't just for Christmas. Use graham crackers and chocolate frosting to make the house, and then decorate it with Halloween-themed candy.
40. Eat candy corn.
41. Make a candy corn necklace.
42. Watch scary movies. There are tons of great scary movies to get you in the Halloween spirit, or if you have little kids you can watch something like Barney's Halloween Party.
43. Roast marshmallows.
44. Make s'mores.
45. Eat seasonally. Use recipes that incorporate foods like beets, apples, and squash, all of which are in season in the fall.
46. Read books about fall.
47. Learn some autumn poems and rhymes.
48. Cook "spooky" food. Make spiders out of chocolate donuts and black pipe cleaners, and other creepy Halloween snacks.
49. Make a cornucopia. Fill your "horn of plenty" with typical harvest fruits such as apples, pumpkins, corn, and gourds.
50. Send harvest cards. Everyone sends holiday cards in December, so why not be unique and send a few handwritten notes to friends and family this fall? Buy a pack of blank notecards and let the kids draw pumpkins and fall leaves on the front.
51. Make popcorn balls.
52. Get outside. Frigid winter temperatures are just around the corner. Get the family outside now while you can still enjoy the weather and the dwindling daylight hours.
53. Start your Christmas shopping. It's never too early; the holiday season will be here before we know it!