Children and Money

10 Fun and Frugal Fall Family Activities

Fun and Frugal Fall Family ActivitiesFall is my favorite time of the year. While we haven’t ushered in the cooler temperatures in Southern California yet (it was 90+ this weekend), there is something about this time of the year that makes it incredibly popular with almost everyone. I decided to change things up a bit today and share fun, low-cost activities you can do with your family to celebrate Fall.

10 Family-Friendly and Affordable Fall Activities

October is often times our last chance to relax before ramping up for the busy holiday season. Take advantage of the lull with these family-friendly activities.

Create Your Halloween Costume

Store-bought costumes have vastly improved since I was a child, but if you have the skill and time, it can be a lot of fun to make your own and coordinate your costumes so you have a family theme. Not all costumes require sewing either, just a little ingenuity. Parenting has some great homemade Halloween costume ideas if you need inspiration.

Watch a Spooky Movie

Have a family movie night and watch your favorite spooky movie. Ideally one that won’t give your kids nightmares! Make it an event by creating a spooky meal with dishes like Halloween Quesadillas or Mummies in a Blanket or enjoy a scary treat, such as Rice Krispie Ghosts, after the movie.

Bake Fall Treats

Invite your kids into the kitchen to bake some of your family’s favorite Fall treats. They will not only learn essential skills, but also have a great time. Sometimes having Lauren and Taylor in the kitchen with me means things get a little messier, but the memories we make together are priceless. So get out your pots and pans and whip up your favorite pumpkin or apple treat together. Tanya from Eat Laugh Purr has a delicious looking apple crisp with salted caramel sauce and apple cider caramels on her blog and Kayla from Shoeaholic No More shared a Paleo friendly Pumpkin Spice Latte on her blog. Now you can enjoy a seasonal favorite year-round with a tasty homemade version.

Bonus Tip: Make extra and share with family, neighbors and friends.

Create a Fall Memory Box

We all move so fast these days that it can be hard to remember all of our special moments. This is one way to capture those moments. Take a current photo of your family (it doesn’t need to be professional but make sure the whole family is in the picture) and have everyone write down a few memories and accomplishments from the past year. Put the picture and memories in an envelope with the year written on it and store in a keepsake box. Repeat this every Fall. This will be something you will treasure for years to come as you look back at the photos and hand-written memories.

Are You Ready for Some Football?

If you’re a family of football fanatics then attend a pro, college or high school game or whatever your budget permits. You can also forgo attending a game live and tailgate in your driveway. Better yet, gather your football buddies and rotate tailgating at each other’s homes. Keep it budget friendly with everyone bringing a snack to share. Dollar stores also have a great selection of solid color plates, napkins, cups and plastic silverware, so you can affordably decorate in your team colors.

Take a Family Hike or Bike Ride

With winter fast approaching, be sure to get outside and enjoy the mild Fall temperatures and colors while you can. Go for a bike ride or a hike and explore local parks and neighborhoods together. Pack a picnic and turn it into a full day.

Host a Pumpkin Carving Party

Carving pumpkins is messy, messy work, but it’s also great fun. Invite friends over to carve and/or decorate pumpkins for the afternoon. Have everyone bring their own pumpkin and knife while you supply some light snacks. Hold a contest to see who has the scariest pumpkin.

Make Fall Decorations Together

Kids often enjoy working on craft projects together. I’ve assembled a couple easy and fun options. Where Your Treasure Is shares how to make DIY Cinnamon Pinecones. Super easy and I bet they smell heavenly. Spark and Chemistry walks us through how to make Autumn Mason Jar Candle Holders. These look gorgeous. Both of these would also make great gifts too, maybe as a party favor for guests at your Thanksgiving feast.

Create a Thanksgiving Gratitude Tree

When you on your hike or bike ride with your children, collect small, broken branches for your gratitude tree. Place a few branch (stripped of leaves) in a vase or jar (use decorative or real rocks to hold the branches in place) and have everyone write what they a grateful for this Fall on colorful paper cut into the shape of leaves. Punch a hole in each gratitude note and use string or yarn to tie it to a branch. This makes a great Thanksgiving centerpiece too. You can invite your guest to add their own gratitude leaf to the tree too.

Organize a Holiday Food Drive

With the holidays fast approaching, many food banks are in need of food and cash donations. Organize a food drive at your Church or place of worship, your school or just among your neighbors and friends. Have your kids help make and hang signs or go door-to-door to collect food donations. Remind them how blessed you are to have plenty of food and that not every family is fortunate. This is an easy way for us to give thanks and help others.

What activities are you looking forward to doing this Fall?


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October 6, 2014  •  39 Comments  •  Children and Money

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  1. Monday, October 6th, 2014
    These are all great ideas Shannon! We love Fall as well, but not quite ready for the below freezing temps we've had already. The kids really love helping out with things, especially in regards to decorating and carving pumpkins. That said, I've never heard of a Gratitude Tree, sounds like a great idea! :)
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      Freezing temps already? Brrrrr…. I wouldn't be ready for those either. Kids really love decorating and carving pumpkins. It can be messy but fun!
  2. Monday, October 6th, 2014
    I love the idea of the Thanksgiving gratitude tree! And now is a perfect time for us to start working on it because our trees are turning. We try to spend as much time outdoors in the fall because we know that we will be holed up in the winter. We have started going to Friday night football games at the high school where my hubby teaches. It's fun because they are free and we all enjoy football.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      High school football games are so much fun! And a great Friday night tradition too. :) This is the perfect time of the year to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible, especially since you have to deal with the snow and cold. I love gratitude trees because it's a great Fall decoration and a chance to focus on gratitude.
  3. Monday, October 6th, 2014
    I like the idea of a gratitude tree! Seems like a wonderful way to incorporate thankfulness into daily life. Thanks for sharing.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      They are great, Mrs Frugalwoods and I am a huge proponent of making gratitude a part of our daily lives.
  4. Monday, October 6th, 2014
    We love making our own costumes for Halloween. They are so much more personal that way and it allows you to be endlessly creative. Also love baking and fall hiking!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      It is a lot of fun and you can really involve the kids too. Fall is such a great time to go hiking, beautiful views and cooler temps. :) Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Robin. I appreciate it!
  5. Monday, October 6th, 2014
    Fall is my favorite time of year. Part of the reason being all of the fun activities that are part of the season. Personally, my favorite is having warm drinks, like coffee and cider, and carving pumpkins.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      The seasonal Fall drinks are so good. It seems unfair we seem to only enjoy them in the Fall, but then again, it definitely gives us something to looking forward to every year too.
  6. Monday, October 6th, 2014
    I love all of these ideas! I'm looking forward to going to the pumpkin patch. I haven't been to one since I was a kid!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      Pumpkin patches are so much fun. Lots to do and eat! :)
  7. Monday, October 6th, 2014
    I'm with you on the Holiday Food Drive as that is something I would participate in when I lived in Montreal. I'll need to find a local food bank close to home and see if I can round up some of the neighbors in my building to contribute as well.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      Love it, Kassandra! We are so blessed and it's a small way we can give thanks and help those in need. I'm sure your local food bank would appreciate the support as the need is always extra high at the holidays.
  8. Monday, October 6th, 2014
    Great ideas! I love fall even though we don't get much of one around these parts. But hey we got some nice fog last night! :) I have had pumpkin carving parties and I love gathering some close friends and having a potluck. I love passing out candy too to the neighborhood kids, but unless I can find some really cheap candy I won't be this year. I love how are neighborhood looks at Halloween.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      No, we definitely don't get the Eastern Fall, but we definitely do get fog! Which is perfect to create a spooky atmosphere. :) The girls love trick or treating, of course, and in our neck of the woods, it feels so quaint and small town.
  9. Monday, October 6th, 2014
    Thanks a ton for sharing a link to my recipe! It's a really tasty (and healthy) treat. :) I LOVE fall!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      You're welcome, Kayla! It looks delicious and pumpkin dreams are definitely all the range right now. And you know me, I love that it's a healthy and delicious drink.
  10. Monday, October 6th, 2014
    Yes our weather needs to keep up with it. I cant wait until it gets chilly out here in California. I just love your tips! Don't have a family right now, but these can be also be great and frugal ways to spend time with friends. I am sure they would love to also save money now that the holidays are quickly approaching
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      Hopefully it will start to cool down a bit. I like warm temps, but not super hot! These are definitely activities you can do with your friend too and very affordably too, which is especially nice before the holidays. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Ciel. I appreciate it!
  11. Monday, October 6th, 2014
    October might be my favorite month as long as we don't get early snow. We've been getting in our end of the year hikes and it's beautiful. Luckily, there are also lots of free kid activities in our town that we'll take advantage of. It seems like Halloween is a month long event anymore.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      I bet October is beautiful in Colorado, Kim, and a great time to enjoy some long hikes. A great point - many communities offer free or very low-cost family activities too (and you don't have to plan them, which is a bonus!).
  12. Monday, October 6th, 2014
    Fall is my favorite season! We have already been to the pumpkin patch :) I love the idea of making fall decorations together. That would be a great project for a 4 year old!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      I saw that on your blog, Mackenzie! It sounds like you had a blast, even if you got lost in the corn maze. :) Your daughter would love making some crafts and it's a great way to occupy them.
  13. Monday, October 6th, 2014
    I botched my pumpkin carving last year so I'm buying a backup this year ;) We actually are planning on having a small get-together to carve pumpkins. It's a relatively frugal thing to do and everyone typically enjoys it and feels like they celebrated "the season."

    I'm huge on football so I definitely enjoy that. I don't typically attend games (so expensive) but I watch at home. It saves some money and I get my fix. Oh, we did have a football party last Thursday for the Vikings-Packers game. That was ugly.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      Been there, done that too when carving pumpkins. It's fun, but it's not extremely forgiving. You're smart to buy a back-up! :) Carving parties are inexpensive. It's just nice to get together with friends and do something low-key. I know you're a big football fan and it can definitely get expensive to attend professional games. Oh yeah, I heard your Vikings didn't do so good. Sorry. :(
  14. Monday, October 6th, 2014
    Fall is absolutely my favorite time of year. The weather here in AZ is perfect for morning runs and long walks at dusk. Can't be beat. No significant plans this year, just want to enjoy the year as it closes out. Looking forward to Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving and on into Christmas.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      The weather is really perfect and ideal to get outdoors and be active. Looks like you have a busy Fall planned. Both my girls celebrate their birthdays before year-end, so we are definitely gearing up for their parties too. :)
  15. Monday, October 6th, 2014
    My daughter's favorite thing to do in the fall is a "leaf war." She and her friends rake up big pile of leaves, and then basically throw them at each other, and jump around in the piles. Free and FUN! Sometimes us larger and older kids join in too. :)
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      I love it! We have leaves but not the volume you do in Minnesota. I can see why some of the older kids (cough, cough) might join in the fun too!
  16. Monday, October 6th, 2014
    I love hiking and bike riding! Such adventure for the Fall Season. Indeed, best things in life are free! I also love making fall decorations together with family and friends!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      Me too, Jesselle. So many fun things to do in the Fall and they don't need to be expensive or cost anything to be fun and memorable. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it!
  17. Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
    Once a month, my family hikes and camps. As a teacher, I kinda feel the responsibility to teach kids something that can give them an edge. So, I bring them to hiking and camping sites. By the way, fall is really a great season. More importantly, what is greater is when seeing my kids taking more responsibilities and knowing a lot than what I expect is really priceless!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      I love that you take your family camping monthly. I bet it's something they look forward to every month and will treasure the memories you make forever. And yes, there is nothing better than watching your kids grow up and succeed.
  18. Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
    Great tips here, Shannon, and we do many of these!! Due to budget umm, restrictions, :-) we have been having the kids make their own costumes out of stuff at home and they always come up with some awesome stuff. And we love the holiday baking stuff - it's always so fun!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      Your kids may have needed to create homemade costumes because you were tightening your budget, but I bet they also love doing it now. I am always impressed by the creativity of kids and some of the costumes they can put together far exceed store bought ones. Holiday baking is something I always look forward to as well. :)
  19. Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
    I love this season. We don't have kids yet, but We still like to make our own costumes and carve some pumpkins. We're going to keep this tradition coming with our kids as well.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
      I love this season too. We love dressing up with the girls too and your future kids will love having Mom and Dad dress up with them too. :)
  20. Thursday, October 9th, 2014
    Hi Shannon!

    I love these ideas. This is my favorite time of the year too although it still feels like summer here in Houston. :).

    My grandson is getting older now so we can do more activities like this. He's still too young for scary movies but then he does like the show Walking Dead.

    I'm looking forward to dressing him up this year too. And my 6 month old grandson is a little chunky thing so we're thinking Batman and Robin :).

    Thanks again for sharing these ideas with us! Hope you're having a great week so far hun. :)

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    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan