The song lyrics “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” are not just for Christmas, or even back-to-school season for parents of school-age children. If you are anything like me, it applies to the entire season of fall.
Here in the Midwest fall – or autumn if you prefer – means comfy sweatshirts or flannels, crisp temperatures, bonfires, beautiful trees, football and family fun. If you are looking for some fun activities for your family, then look no further! Here are a few of my favorite family activities I hope you will give a try and make an annual part of your fall season. In warmer parts of the country, you may simply be able to extend some of your summer activities into fall. And if you plan to invite friends or family members from outside your household, all these activities can be adapted to COVID-19 protocols. Most take place outdoors, and others should still be do-able by adding a little space or wearing masks.
TAKE A HIKE
Travel to your local hiking trails; they seem to be sprinkled everywhere and are a great way to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage. Collect different leaves that have fallen and work together to identify the trees that dropped them.
Visit your local nursery and choose some bulbs as a family, then plant them together. You can enjoy watching them grow in the spring.
VISIT YOUR LOCAL FARMER’S MARKET
This may be one of my favorites because you can do this often. Choosing local produce to take home and cook together as a family is priceless. You can look through family cookbooks or find yummy recipes on the internet before your trip, so you know what veggies or fruits you may need.
VISIT A FARM
Enjoy family time picking apples, choosing the best pumpkin in the patch, going on a hayride or conquering a corn maze together.
You can turn any average day into a day to remember with a fun scavenger hunt. Whether outside on a sunny fall afternoon or inside on a gray and rainy day, just create a list of things to find. Make it easy or challenging depending on the participants’ ages. Create riddles as clues or use close-up pictures. Sit back and watch your family create memories that last a lifetime.
MAKE HOT CHOCOLATE
The packet stuff is pretty good, but if you’ve never made it from scratch, I encourage you to give it a try. It will change your life. So many different versions: maple hot chocolate, salted caramel hot chocolate, Mexican hot chocolate.
Crafting can be as simple or as elaborate as you are comfortable trying. The kids can help craft yummy sprinkle-covered monster donuts by taking plain cake donuts you can buy from your local donut shop, dipping them in some simple glazed icing then topping in colorful sugar or sprinkles. Just add eyes and some candy corn teeth for a seasonal treat. You can also make Halloween costumes or decorations together or Thanksgiving place cards. Use the pinecones you find on a nature walk (where allowed!) and spread peanut butter on them, roll in bird seed and hang in your trees for the birds. So many possibilities and so many memories to be made.
PUMPKIN, PUMPKIN AND MORE PUMPKIN
Experiment with different ways to eat pumpkin dishes. You can add pumpkin puree with pumpkin pie spices to pancakes, smoothies, waffles and cookies or even make pumpkin butter to spread on warm biscuits. Roast those pumpkin seeds from the pumpkins you carve. You are limited only by your imagination.
Buy one of each type of apple from your local grocery store. Sample each to see which is the favorite. Make apple treats from them. You can do caramel apples, candied apples, apple cobbler, apple crisp, apple pancakes or apple bread; as with pumpkins, the sky is the limit for apple treats.
Fall is also the season of festivals. Most areas have specialty food festivals featuring pumpkins, apples, sauerkraut, Oktoberfest and even Renaissance activities. Go together and try a dish you’ve never tried before. It may just become your new favorite. Many outdoor festivals that were canceled in 2020 are resuming in 2021 with extra precautions in place.
I hope some of these ideas get your creative juices flowing and become annual traditions that you enjoy with your families and friends. Create a fall wish list together so everyone can choose what they want to do this fall and no one misses out. Hang it on the refrigerator and check them off one by one. Hopefully you, too, will be singing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”