As the temperature cools and the hours of sunlight start to dwindle, there comes an indescribable urge to get out and get active, making the most of the season with family and friends before winter blows in and the holiday madness starts. No matter where you are, through September and October there exists a never-ending list of possible activities to take part in; unfortunately, the steep admission and ticket prices may bar families from attending very often, and so we’ve compiled a few super cheap ideas on ways to have fun that are both close to home and right on budget.
Festivals with Free Admission
Food, fashion, cars, galleries, local produce, cultural celebrations, music and dance, flea markets: for most areas, autumn is the most perfect time to produce a festival. Visit or call your local Parks and Recreation department to receive updates on scheduled events, and check out your town’s visitor services website or social media to keep up to date on when and where festivals will be held. Some come with an entry fee, but most are free and open to the public, making their money on food and drink and at vendor and artisan booths.
The simple joys of fall usually appear in the form of seasonal eats: pumpkin muffins, bread, pie, lattes; apple pies and vanilla-scented everything. Find a local farm for apple or pumpkin picking near you and make a day out of your trip. Many orchards have additional activities for visitors in the fall, such as hayrides and mazes, a market place or flea market area, competitions, recreational sports and activities, or places to eat.
Cooking and Baking
You’ll want to make something delicious with your hand-picked fruits, and with an excess in supplies, the best way to both get through them and get your kids involved is with a family bake-off! Split into teams of two with a parent on each side, and take turns in the kitchen creating a seasonal recipe. Younger children can help with measuring out dry ingredients with plastic, kid-friendly spoons and cups, like those from Dollar Tree, or aiding in reading aloud the recipe instructions. Older siblings may be able to use the stove top and oven with mom or dad’s supervision. Try using non-stick pans so the cookware isn’t scratched by your new little chef. You can kill a full day, and possibly create a few nights of leftovers, by having the first team prepare breakfast or lunch, and the second, dinner or dessert. The losing team has to do the dishes – and winning team can help to dry them!
Make Home Videos
Create memories during family time by taking videos with a video camera or cell phone. Take the device with you when kicking around a ball at the park or monkeying around on the playground. On colder days, make produce a short movie or variety show with your kids and film their performance. You can spend an entire afternoon on creating the props and costumes out of leftover materials and items you have at home!
Put on a Fashion Show
You can kill two – or even three – birds with one stone by spending the day playing dress up. Have your kids help out in going through their clothes from the previous or coming season by putting on an impromptu fashion show. Clear out a hallway to use as a runway and set up chairs at one end to watch
your kids while they strut their stuff on the catwalk. This is a great way to determine which items still fit, can be handed down, or is left to be donated; when they’re done, pack away last season’s clothes in boxes, like these cheap bins from Target, to make room for fall and winter clothes. Bonus round: let mom finally get a moment to go through her own wardrobe and thrift any pieces which are ill-fitting or outdated.
The seasons go by fast, so to ensure that you make family time during the busy season, your best option is to through your calendar while it’s starting up and commit now to two or three dates for fun activities. Does your family have any exciting fall plans or traditions? Let us know in the comments!
Carla Henley is a freelance writer living in Southern California with her husband, their two girls and a big, loveable pooch. She enjoys throwing parties for friends and attending events, spending time outdoors and trying out new hobbies – from sewing and baking to card playing and music making – although can never find the time to keep up with them
Linking to some of these great parties