5 Family Traditions to Look Forward to Every Fall

Fall is my family’s favorite time of year. We just seem to have the most fun during this Season. You get to break out the new sweaters and jeans, the trees look beautiful, we spend a lot of time planning and decorating for our spooky Halloween and Day of the Dead celebrations, it’s football season (Iowa Hawkeyes and the Chicago Bears – Rah, Go Team!), and I try to make every pumpkin recipe that I can find. If you have a great pumpkin recipe, please share it!

We have some fun family traditions in the fall that we all look forward to each year. The kids always help me get out the family calendar and mark the dates, so they can start counting down the days until our fun begins. So, if you are thinking “Hey, we want to have fun too” consider one of these activities. Who knows, maybe one of these will become a new tradition for your family.

1. Fall Foliage Drive or Bike Ride – Traditionally we have love to grab the map and drive through our local forest preserves or if we are feeling adventurous we take the drive the Fall Foliage routes in Wisconsin to see the most amazing colors on the trees. If we are lucky, we’ll find an orchard or fruit stand to grab apple pie and other tasty fall treats. Google Fall Foliage Drives and see what comes up for your area. This year we are totally into biking so we’re going to grab our bikes for our drive up to Wisconsin and bike through the forests for a new experience. Read my tips on how to plan a family bike ride.

2. Visit a Pumpkin Farm – Nothing says Fall like a trip to a pumpkin patch. We have some fun local pumpkin farms that have games and a petting zoo for little ones. It’s a great place to take a photo of your kids for the Christmas newsletter! The colors are outstanding. Now that my kids are a little older, we like exploring the corn maze at night by flashlight. Spooky!

3. Baking together in the kitchen – Whether it’s apples, pumpkins, squash, soups, or Halloween treats, we love to spend time together in the kitchen baking and cooking up our favorite dishes or trying something totally new. This year I’m on a quest to find 5 totally awesome soup recipes. Last year we were into Halloween cupcakes and Halloween pancakes. But cooking together allows us to talk and connect over food, which are the warmest memories you can create for your kids or grand kids in my book. Check out my Cooking with the Kids Pinterest Board for some inspiration.

4. Crafting & Decorating for Halloween – We take decorating for Halloween very seriously at our house. We want to have the most festive house on the block. We go crazy decorating both inside and outside the house. I like to spend time with the kids making a new Halloween decoration or treats for their Halloween parties every year. It’s time we get to spend together creating, talking, and connecting. You can see some of our Halloween decorations that I’ve made with the kids.

5. Neighborhood Treat or Treat Procession – Trick or treating is so much more fun in a group. Our neighborhood started a Trick or Treat Procession a few years ago where everyone would meet and walk together. Our procession had wagons full of snacks and hot chocolate, more wagons to pull the young ones who get tired after 3 blocks, dogs on leashes in costumes, and plenty of cameras and video cameras to capture the fun. While trick or treating as a family is fun … why not multiply that by inviting 3 or 4 families? Now, the adults can have a blast walking around too.

What Fall traditions does your family look forward to every year?

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{Family Night Idea} Fall Neighborhood Firepit Gathering

It’s Friday Night, you don’t have any plans, no babysitter, and you’re sick of movie night. You want to do something that is fun for both the parents and the kids. Does that sound about right? Don’t be bored and frustrated with the same old family time activities or lack of social life, fall evening are offer the perfect opportunity to host an impromptu Neighborhood Firepit Party. It’s a simple, fun, and easy way to be sociable and amuse the kids, no matter what age.

Our neighborhood is pretty friendly so if you put a firepit out on the driveway, they will come. Before it gets dark, we put the firepit out, set up some chairs around the fire and that’s all the invitation the neighbors need. They’ll see the intent as they all come home from school and work. If that won’t work in your neighborhood, type up a quick flyer and have the kids hand it out to the neighbors or spread the word as you walk the dog around the block.

Tell everyone to bring their own drinks and bring some munchies to share. If you start planning earlier in the morning or the day before, people might have time to whip up something, otherwise I love seeing what people have in their fridge or pantry to share at a moment’s notice. Run to the corner store and buy supplies for s’mores. Tell the odd numbered houses to bring the appetizers and the even numbered houses to bring dessert. Our “go to” dishes to bring – Guacamole and Chips or Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. We seem to always have the ingredients for these on hand, no matter what time of year.

When you have little kids, these parties are great because everyone will keep an eye on the kids. Or the bigger kids in the neighborhood will take them in hand and run some games. Sweet! You can go inside and put them to bed when needed.

The older kids can run around playing hide ‘n seek, ghost in the graveyard, play flashlight flag football or rake up some leaf piles to make forts or just jump in them. Younger kids can catch soft footballs or drive their little cars up and down the driveways. Set up a tent and let the kids play in the tent. Get out the baggo or bocce ball games. If there is a big sporting event on that evening, bring a radio or TV outside. We’ve got a large telescope so it’s fun to bring that out and let the kids take turns looking at the moon.

I also love to do these parties after school has been in session for a few weeks. The parents can talk about the kids’ new teachers, how things are going, and any new after school activities that are keeping your family busy. You can also take this time to see if any neighbors are interested in a Halloween Procession where everyone goes out trick or treating together for more fun or if the neighborhood is interested in a Halloween or Pumpkin Carving party. Why not plan a Neighborhood Halloween Decorating contest, too? (Aren’t I full of ways to plan a party? I’ve found that if you don’t plan these things when everyone is together, they never happen. So take advantage and plan some fun!)

A neighborhood firepit party is an easy way to entertain and socialize with the friends, no matter what age your kids are. Read this post for more ideas on fun activities to do this fall with your kids or grand kids.

Do you live in a friendly neighborhood? How do you get-together with your neighbors?

Image credit: noam / 123RF Stock Photo

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Tags: Fall Season Family Fun Activities

15 Fun Ideas to Enjoy the Fall Season with your Family


The Fall Season officially starts this week and I’m ready. I’m completely DONE with the draught and the hot weather this summer had to offer. I want to visit a pumpkin patch, put on a cute sweater, go for a fall foliage bike ride with the kids, and eat apple cider donuts. (Man, I love apple cider donuts!)

Needless to say it’s my family’s favorite time of year but it’s way too short. There’s really only a few weekends before Halloween and the Holiday Season take over. To make sure the family’s busy schedule doesn’t get away from us, we’re sitting down to make a master plan and get our fun activities onto the family calendar. I don’t know about you, but for me, if it’s not on the calendar it won’t happen. What works for our family is to sit down together and list out all of the fun things we want to do for the month or season. Then we grab a calendar and pick some dates. Once we all have it on the calendar, we can generate our list of any “to-dos” to finalize our plans – making reservations, buying tickets, or inviting other people to have fun with us. Now, we’re ready to have fun!

To inspire and help you get your Fall Family Fun list going, I wanted to share some of my family’s favorite activities for Fall. Most of these ideas are inexpensive and get you outside enjoying the crisp Autumn air. Definitely check your local park districts, libraries, YMCAs, and Children’s Museums for family specific fall events coming up in your area.


15 FUN, FALL FAMILY ACTIVITIES

    1. Amass a Leaf Pile – Have the kids help you rake up some colorful leaves and then build some leaf forts and mazes together. Jump in the leaves, play with your dog in the leaves, and definitely take cute photos of the kids surrounded my fall color.


    2. Visit an Apple Orchard - I remember picking apples with my parents when I was a kid. While there doesn’t seem to be as many orchards anymore, it’s still a fun activity to take your kids and pick the apples right from the tree. Once you have a full bushel, you can then have fun as a family in the kitchen making Caramel Apples or this recipe I saw for baked apple cider donuts. (I mentioned that I love these, right?)


    3. Fall Foliage Drive - Here’s a list from USA Today with the Top 10 Fall Foliage Drives in the U.S. Since you are driving, this is a nice multi-generational thing to do. Call Grandma and Grandpa and see if they want to come along.


    Pumpkin Patch

    4. Visit a Pumpkin Patch – Take your camera and get some great photos of your toddlers in the pumpkin patch.


    5. Go to your Alma Mater and catch a football game. Why not plan a trip to see your old college team play football? If you can meet up with family and friends, all the better. We try to catch the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City or when they come to Chicago to play Northwestern or Northern Illinois. The kids LOVE the tailgating.


    6. Family Bike Ride in your local Forest Preserve


    7. Fall Nature Photo Scavenger Hunt – Grab some cameras and head out to your local forest preserve to capture some great photos of nature as it changes for cold weather. Here’s a great list of what to look for on your fall scavenger hunt from GoExploreNature.com.



    8. Creating & Decorating for Halloween – I’ve got so many cool decorating and craft ideas on my Halloween Board on Pinterest. Follow my board and plan a fun afternoon creating some silly spookiness.


    9. Throw a Family Friendly Halloween Party – fun for kids and/or adults


    10. Organize a Neighborhood Trick or Treat Procession – get a few families to trick or treat together for even more fun.


    11. Decorate pumpkins. This seems like an obvious thing to do but this year why not try to decorate or carve your pumpkins a little differently? Paint them. Put a mask on them. Stack them. Light them up with different colors. Make them gross instead of cute. Last year we made a pumpkin vomiting out his guts. It was the hit of the neighborhood. Here’s a great round-up post from the How About Orange Blog with a ton of pumpkin decorating ideas.


    12. Neighborhood Flag Football Party – play some flag or touch football outside then come inside for some great eats!


    13. Flashlight Corn Maze Adventures – Now that my kids are a little older (tweens!) we love corn mazes. Especially at night. With flashlights. It’s spooky!


    14. Give back as a family. Fall is a great time to think of others in need. As a family, volunteer at a local food pantry, run your own neighborhood food drive before Thanksgiving, start collecting and donating toys for kids in need, rake the leaves out of an elderly neighbor’s yard, or organize a Halloween costume parade at a local nursing home. They love to see the kids dressed up.


    Camping in the backyard

    15. Camp in the Backyard. Cool nights. No bugs. Campfires and s’mores. Sounds like fun, right? And, you can use your own bathroom.



What do you look forward to most in the Fall? What is your family’s favorite Fall activity?

For more fall family fun ideas, check out my Fall Family Fun Board on Pinterest.

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Tags: Fall Season Family Fun Activities

Creative Football Party Decoration and Food Ideas

The college and NFL football seasons have kicked off, fall weather is in the air, and it’s the perfect time to throw a family-friendly Football Themed Party. We had family in town last weekend to see the Iowa Hawkeyes play at Soldier Field in Chicago. It was a blast! But afterwards, I realized that I should have made some football themed cupcakes or decorated the house for our football weekend. So, to inspire myself for a future football party, I found some super creative ideas online. Whether you’re throwing a party for family and friends to watch that special game or you have a child who’s dying for a football themed birthday party, you’ll score big with these party ideas. Psst! I have a lot more Football Party ideas on my Sports Themed Party Board on Pinterest. Check those out, too.

DECORATIONS

    These free football party printables from the Hostess with the Mostess blog are awesome. She has some good looking snack recipes on the site as well so check those out.

    These aren’t free but I love the retro design to these Football Party Printables from LilSugar.com.


    How cute are these football juice box covers! Kate at the AndEverythingSweet blog tells you how to make them.

    Football party table decorations

    Jackie Fo shows how to grab some Astroturf flooring from your local Home Repair and Hardware Store to make a cool looking tabletop on her blog. She has some really cool decorating ideas so check out her site.

    You’ll find some great kid-friendly decoration ideas here, as well.

FOOD

Which idea would you make at your next football themed party? What are your ideas for hosting a football themed party?

I’ll share ideas for games and activities for your football party in my next post, so check back. Or, I have a lot more football and sports themed party ideas on my Sports Party Pinterest Board. Come follow me and get pinspired!

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Tags: Fall Season Family Fun Activities · Family Celebrations · Family Party Ideas

Top 10 Fall Family Fun Activities

fall leaves

Yeah, today is the first official day of Autumn! Unfortunately we don’t have any leaves to jump into yet to celebrate but this is my family’s favorite time of year. The weather is cooler, the trees look beautiful as they say goodbye for the year, we break out the spooky Halloween and Day of the Dead decorations, it’s Hawkeye football season, and we go gaga for Apple Cider Donuts. (Man, I love a good donut.)

To make sure we don’t miss out on a minute of favorite seasonal fun activities, we create a Fall Family Fun Plan or a bucket list of activities we want to do this Fall. We pick a night and at dinner everyone throws out ideas of what they want to do and we then schedule our activities on the calendar. We now know if we need to buy tickets to anything, get invitations out, or have the house clean by a certain date. (Oh yes, our social calendar dictates when the house gets cleaned.) Once our activities are written in stone (OK, just in the planner – but in PEN!) we have some fun times to look forward to.

Below you’ll see a list of my family’s favorite activities to have fun in the Fall. Most of these ideas are inexpensive and get you outside enjoying the crisp Autumn air. For more inspiration as you create your Family Fun Plan, check your local park districts, libraries, YMCAs, and Children’s Museums for family specific fall events coming up in your area.

pumpkin farm

Top 10 Ideas for Fall Family Fun

    1. Apple Orchard/ Making Caramel Apples
    2. Fall Foliage Drive
    3. Visit a Pumpkin Farm
    4. Leaf Pile Forts, Mazes & Piles
    5. Bike Ride/ Photo Scavenger Hunt in your local Forest Preserve
    6. Creating & Decorating for Halloween
    7. Throw a Halloween Party – for kids and/or adults
    8. Organize a Neighborhood Trick or Treat Procession
    9. Neighborhood Flag Football Party
    10. Flashlight Corn Maze Adventures

gourds

I’ll be writing more this Fall on how to have the most fun doing any one of these fun activities so check back often.

We found this article at the DomesticCents.com blog on Frugal Fall Family Fun Ideas that we wanted to share. I love their photos and Scarecrow idea.

I hope this list has inspired you to get out your calendar and start some planning. Check back for more ideas and tips on how to have more family fun this fall season. I’d love to hear what you love to do with your family, so leave me a comment.

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