Fall is an excellent time to start the holiday season and long lasting family traditions. In October you have eight weekend days — and we've got eight fun tradition-building ideas. Choose the ones you think your family will enjoy — or try them all.
Nothing will get your family in the fall swing of things like visiting a pumpkin patch. Little kids are fascinated by fields of pumpkins, and many patches have corn mazes, hay rides, face painting, etc. All the cool fall air wears little ones out, so you'll be rewarded with nap time afterward! Either make or buy a pumpkin pie for when your kiddies get up. You can spend the rest of the day cooking pumpkin seeds and carving jack-o-lanterns for Halloween.
Apple orchards are a blast for kids. They can harvest their own fruit, and often a large orchard has a cider-making operation which is fun for the kids to learn about. Take some cider home and heat it up or serve it cold — and maybe buy some hard cider for you and your significant other after the kids go to bed! If you do this on a Saturday, you can spend Sunday making applesauce, apple butter, apple pies, apple crisp — whatever the little apples of your eye desire.
Fall might be one of the most enjoyable times to craft with the kids. Set aside a Saturday or Sunday to assemble craft kits with a fall theme. There are so many fun ideas to choose from. Or if you don't relish the thought of spending a small fortune on Halloween decorations, make them with the kids. If you spend 10 minutes on the internet on Friday night, you'll get a ton of ideas, many of them incorporating stuff you already have around the house. Remember it's not really what you make together that matters, it just matters that you are together.
October is National Cookie Month! Who knew? The only thing children like more than eating cookies is making them — and partaking in the batter of course! If this becomes a family tradition, you can choose a different cookie recipe to make each year, or perhaps you and the kids will zero in on a special one that you only make this time of year.
An easy way to celebrate this new tradition is making sugar cookies in the shape of witches' hats and pumpkins, which you can do with a butter knife and the end of a glass — you don't need to run out and buy elaborate cookie cutters. Find a recipe with sour cream in it — they stay soft and are delicious! If you are going to splurge on an ingredient for your sugar cookies, make it the sprinkles. There are so many adorable colors, shapes and sizes for the fall/Halloween season and kids' eyes glaze over with delight when you cut them loose with sprinkles.
October is National Pizza Month too. This could become another family favorite. Again, you can go as simple or as elaborate as you want. You can make the pizza dough from scratch, teaching kids how yeast works, or you can buy a pre-made crust. If you really want your kids to think you're a rock star, buy a two-pack of pre-made pizza crusts. Make one that the whole family will enjoy, and then let your kids put whatever they want on theirs — no matter how bizarre. You never know when your kids will stumble onto a new recipe that they love. The point here is not to make an awesome pizza, it is to let your kids be in charge of their own creation without making “helpful" suggestions. It may be difficult to turn your back and cut them loose, but they will never forget it.
Watch sports together as a family... and then get outside and play together. October is the one month of the year that all three major sports — baseball, basketball and football — are happening. Major League Baseball season is winding down with the World Series taking place in October. NFL and college football seasons are in full swing, plus NBA basketball season is just about ready to tip-off. If you have an NBA team in your area, pre-season is a great time to take the whole family to a game. Tickets are available in abundance at rock-bottom prices. Don't just watch sports together though — get out and play with your kids. Flag football is fun for kids of all ages (and moms and dads too) to play in the fall months before it gets too cold.
October is a fun month to pick a day to unplug. Kids today are tied to so many electronic devices — and using their noggins and playing outside can fall by the wayside. Fall has so many special sights and smells. Your family can take a day trip for a hike or just walk out the front door and go for a nature walk. Encourage your kids to look at the ground, seeing how many treasures they can find. It's a time of year when it's not difficult to find fallen (and abandoned) bee hives, bird feathers, poop (kids love that!), leaves — things that speak to your child's sense of wonder and adventure. You can follow up your outdoor activity by raking the leaves and letting the kids hide in them.
Halloween has become such a fun time of year for kids of all ages. To gear up for this fun event, start the night before. Gather age-appropriate ghost stories and have your family huddle up on the couch. Turn off the lights and light a few candles or curl up around a fireplace if you have one. If you have a good storyteller in your family, they can tell a ghost story or make one up. If you have a large family, each person can take a couple of minutes to contribute to the ghost story, and then let the next person take over until the story becomes a group effort.
October is a great month — filled with harvests and fun holidays — to build traditions. Keep the ones the kids love, and tweak or get rid of the ones they don't.
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