School bells are ringing, the air is still muggy from summer, and everyone is trying to figure out this new routine. Why this is a surprise every year? We may never know.

Between the time the first school bell rings and the time sleigh bells are ringing, it is so important to make time to spend together as a family…but coming up with things to do? That can be a doozie! That’s why I created this fabulous list!

Getting out of the house activities

Go to a Corn Maze or Hayride

Almost all city councils crave a fun seasonal festival to bring the town together.  Look on your city’s website for upcoming events.  If your city is unable to host something like this, chances are one close to you is.

Look up “hayride near (your zip code)” and all kinds of options will pop up for you to look into.  A lot of them also have petting zoos, mazes, crafts, and more!  You can make a whole day of it one weekend with your family!

Apple picking at a local orchard

“An apple orchard?  We don’t usually see those off the freeway.  There’s no way we have one near us!”  I dare you to look it up!  Most states have websites dedicated to “pick your own” farms and orchards divided up by county.  You’ll be surprised how close a local PYO is to you!

Go to a Pumpkin Patch

They’re everywhere in October!  You can always go to the parking lot of the local store, but it’s much more fun to go to a local farm or pop-up “farm” and get some great pictures of your kids, and fun family photos and make an event of it!

Check out your city’s calendar of events for a fall festival

Your city should have a website with a link to upcoming events put on by the city.  If your city isn’t on the brink of technology, check the paper!

This is a great way to plan a fun play date or start an annual family tradition!  Some day, your kids can tell your grand kids about how they always went to the Fall Festival in their hometown and can take them someday!

Pick out Halloween Candy to hand out

Instead of going to the grocery store yourself and looking at a mountain of options, get your family involved.  I know, it sounds crazy, but let your kids be in charge of picking out candy.  I’ll go bankrupt!  Their teeth will rot!

Simply give each family member a budget or a one-bag rule.  Get your kids excited about going to the store and getting groceries!  Errands don’t have to be a chore!

My favorite part of Halloween as a kid wasn’t trick or treating.  Sure, I’d go out for 30 minutes just to do it, but I’d rush home to see all of the fun costumes come to my door and hand out candy.

Go out for seasonal donuts

Everyone makes them.  Krispy Kream, Dunkin Donuts, and all the mom-and-pop shops around.  Take the kiddos out one morning to a local shop and enjoy breakfast together.

You can bring donuts home any old time, but going out to a shop where they’re forced to talk to each other and try something unique makes for a great time.

Go for a sunset walk

It’s been a long day at school and work, the kids have done their after-school activities, homework is done.. before dinner, and electronics and a bedtime routine, get outside.  Take your kids out in the fresh air and have them look up.  Enjoy a sunset as a family.

Go on a nature walk

You can go out to enjoy the outdoors or you can send your kids out on a serious hunt.  Make them a list of things to look for or make a list of things to collect along your walk.

Play nature bingo or I Spy.  Try to get away from walking around your neighborhood.  Go to a big park in the city or a local campground.  Get them out in the leaves and dirt!

Collect pine cones

Along your nature walk, collect pine cones or other natural materials.  Not only is it fun watching your kids hunt and compare, but you can also bake them and make a Fall centerpiece or a Winter wreath.

To bake: preheat your oven to 250, line a baking sheet with tin foil, place cones and cinnamon sticks on a baking sheet (I like to sprinkle a little ground cinnamon and nutmeg on top too!), bake for one hour, check occasionally to avoid burning.

Baking your cones dries out all the moisture and makes sure there are no miniature critters hiding in there!

Flashlight Tag in the park

Do you know all of those flashlights around your house that never get used?  Now’s your chance to find them, check the batteries, have a good time, and make sure everyone knows where their dedicated flashlight is in case of an emergency.

Get your little ones bundled up in dark colors.  Head out to a local park after the sun sets and it gets dark.  Be sure to establish boundaries so they can all be found again easily and have fun!

Grab seasonal drinks at a local coffee shop

I’d love to challenge you to find someplace other than Starbucks.  Avoid the girls in their leggings and Ugg boots waiting in line for their Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

Get on Yelp or ask around for a fun local place and go out for a fancy family date.  Finding a coffee shop that has fun hot chocolates and teas, serves drinks in actual mugs, and has a little ambiance makes for a great trip!

Take some fall family photos

It doesn’t have to be fancy.  Not everyone has the money to hire a busy and expensive professional, coordinate schedules, and get all children dressed and happy at the same time.  It’s nearly impossible.

Take a fancy camera with you to a pumpkin patch or coffee shop or your backyard and get some realistic and fun photos.  Kids don’t remember the fancy photo shoots when they look back at family albums, they remember the memories you make.  Capture those!

Trick or Treat

Teach your kids the fundamentals of the classic activity.  Make sure they use their manners and their courage.  Get them some exercise before they chow down!

If they get tired, bored, cold, scared, etc. head back home.  Let them exchange the candy they got from trick or treating that they don’t like with the good stuff in your bowl that they helped pick out.  Turn on a fun movie (ABC Family and tons of other channels have family-friendly Halloween movies running constantly) and have fun handing out candy.

If your neighborhood isn’t known for it’s Trick or Treating crowd, or Halloween falls on a weeknight, a lot of cities will have Trick or Treat events where the kids can safely get candy without scary decor or crossing streets at night.

At-Home Activities

Play football in the yard

You don’t have to be an NFL pro.  Split up into teams while dinner is cooking and have fun challenging each other back and forth across the yard.

If you don’t have a big yard, head to a park, invite family friends with you and have a picnic and a scrimmage.

Bob for apples

Take the apples you picked at a local orchard or some from the supermarket, fill a big basin with water and tell your kids to go for it.

Most times, they’ll think it’s easy then struggle and giggle with each other as those mini mouths try to capture those giant granny smiths. Get pictures!

Start a fire & make S’mores

Make your first fire of the season and have the kiddos make some fun snacks for themselves.

If you don’t have a fireplace, head to the beach or a campground and nab a bonfire pit, or make them over a grill or stove.

Carve Jack-O-Lanterns

Get ready to get messy and carve the pumpkins you picked at the patch.

My favorite stay-clean trick is to cover whatever surface they will be working on in a few of the dollar store plastic tablecloths that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.  Once you’re done, you can pull the corners in and put the entire thing in the trash.  No soggy newspapers or sticky magazine pages!

If you don’t have an artsy eye, you can always grab some Halloween cookie cutters and hammer them into your pumpkin or trace them so you don’t end up with a blob that’s supposed to be a cat or a bat.

Watch Hocus Pocus

A classic Halloween film that is rated PG.  Enjoy some autumnal treats and watch this as a family.

Decorate your home

There is no need to spend a fortune to make your house look like a haunted house or like a Martha Stewart magazine cover.  Grab some stuff at the supermarket, dollar store, or party supply store.

Have your kids cover the plants out front with spider webs, make a leafy centerpiece you can keep on the table until Thanksgiving, put candles and plastic spiders in jars, place their pumpkins out front, hang bats from a tree, put spooky signs on their bedroom doors, hang fun hand towels in the bathroom and kitchen, put a fun wreath on the door, etc.

Watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

This 1966 classic isn’t even rated.  It’s great for all ages and it’s only 25 minutes long!

Rake & jump in a pile of leaves

If you don’t have a big tree that graces you with mounds of leaves, chances are someone in your family or neighborhood does.  Get your kids into the giving spirit and go rake up some leaves for someone (with their permission).

Great pictures can be taken when kids are thrilled to be throwing colorful, crunchy leaves up in the air.  It burns up energy and gets them grungy for a nice hot bath!

Light some fall candles or simmer a seasonal brew

Nothing makes you warm and cozy like walking into a warm home and having it smell like the season ought to.

Toss some apple slices, vanilla extract, cinnamon sticks, and some ground nutmeg into a pot of water on the stove.  Try orange peels, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves.

Don’t want to waste produce?  Have some essential oils around?  Toss 2 tablespoons of coconut oil into a wax warmer and drip some cypress, sandalwood, and white fir to make your home smell like a forest.

Don’t have the oils?  Get the coconut oil, some pumpkin pie spice, and ground nutmeg on the warmer!

Play board games

You know there are a ton of them in that one closet.  Get them out!  Have a family rivalry, make them use their heads, talk to each other, and strategize.

Bonus!  You can see what games are missing too many pieces to salvage and can get rid of some stuff!

Make a fall wreath

Use the pine cones and leaves from your family nature walk, some fabric from your scrap pile, or take a venture to Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, or JoAnn and let your kids pick out elements for your front door decor.

Make Cinnamon PlayDoh

No cook recipe!

Mix 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 2 Tablespoons of Cream of Tartar, 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil, a few shakes of cinnamon. Add about  1 and a half cups of freshly boiled water (now is the time to add in food coloring if you’d like it to be bright).  Let it cool and play!

You can also replace the cinnamon with ground cloves, ground nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice or anything else you can think of!  Experiment!  This is not a costly craft!

DIY your Halloween Costumes

I know what you’re thinking, I don’t sew!  I don’t have the skills!  Worry not, you’re not making a Project Runway gown. It’s great to see what your kids come up with and most times, it saves you money!  Halloween stores and websites overcharge for a highly duplicated costume that tons of kids will be wearing.  I know I saw a sea of Harley Quinn twins last Halloween and eons of Elsa’s a few years ago.

Get their creative juices flowing and they’ll end up with a one-of-a-kind costume!

Leaf rubbing with crayons

Take some of the leaves from your nature walk and place them under a sheet of paper, take the wrappers off of your autumn-colored crayons and let the kids go to town creating simple art for you.  No coloring within the lines is required.

Seasonal Food and Drinks to Make

Apple cider

Dive into Pinterest and look for a fun crock pot Apple Cider recipe.  Great for a family gathering or a fun evening of board games or movies or baking fun seasonal treats.

Bonus! It makes your house smell incredible!

Extra Bonus:  You can make some spiked cider or hot toddies for Mom and Dad!

Baked pumpkin seeds

Grab a few hand fulls of pumpkin seeds during the carving madness and throw it into a colander in the sink and run some water to rinse and separate the seeds.

Preheat the oven to 400.  Throw a cup of seeds in a pan with 3-4 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of salt.  Simmer for 10 minutes, drain, spread out on the greased sheet, and sprinkle with some melted butter and salt and pepper or cinnamon and sugar.

Bake anywhere between 5 to 25 minutes depending on how large the seeds are and how many you have.  Keep an eye and as soon as they start to turn brown, pull them out and enjoy!

Pumpkin chili

There are tons of great recipes out there.  This is a great treat for those seeking a delicious fall recipe that isn’t chock full of sugar.

Pumpkin pancakes or Pumpkin cinnamon rolls

What better way to wake your kids up on the weekend than with something delicious wafting through the air and tickling their noses?

Pumpkin bread

Every time you’ve ever tried to make bread at home, has it come out burnt or dry or goopy?  If you’re one to leave it to the pros, every bakery will have seasonal goodies saving you time and heartache.

If you’re a baker at heart, Pinterest is crawling with recipes for regular pumpkin bread, pumpkin chocolate chip bread, and pumpkin cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread… my mouth is watering just listing them.

Candied apples

I have terrible teeth and the thought of these makes me want to cringe. Trying to eat these delicious treats growing up was no pleasure and all pain.  Until recently when some genius decided the show the world that you can slice the apples before dipping or coating them and make them easy to eat!

Most grocery stores have candied apple kits near the apples in the produce section… just look down!  If you’re hardcore and wouldn’t DARE use a KIT, grab a bag of Kraft Caramel Bits, melt and dip or drizzle your slices.  You can add melted chocolate, nuts, broken-up Halloween candy, or whatever you please!

Pro Tip:  If you have little ones or want a pretty easy party snack, grab your melon baller at the back of your kitchen drawer and make little apple balls, throw a toothpick in them, dip them, and voila!  Mini candied apples!

Cookies with fall-shaped cookie cutters

Look in the baking section for them to put out the cookie cutters for the season!  Leaves, pumpkins, witches, cats, ghosts, spiders, etc.

If you don’t want to dish out the change for new, seasonal-specific cookie cutters, see what you already have in the pantry.  You can turn a Santa silhouette or tulip upside down and decorate it as a ghost.  Turn a gingerbread man into a mummy or skeleton or a witch.  You can just make plain circles or squares and give your kids a blank canvas for their imaginations to run wild!

This is a great activity for people who want to throw everything pumpkin-spiced in the trash!  You can make cookies in your favorite flavor and have a blast cutting them out and decorating with the kids.

Rice Krispy Treats

You can make these all year round and the recipe is on every box of cereal!  But how is this a fall activity?  You can make them into fun shapes and decorate them with fun-colored melting chocolate!

These are great for parties!  You can make them bite-sized or huge.  Keep them plain or make them into a fun shape and douse them in melted chocolate and sprinkle them with crumbled candy for an impressive treat!

Pumpkin pie

It’s a classic and you may as well get some practice in before you have to bring it over to mom’s house for Thanksgiving.  People are usually making this once a year and it’s disappointing if it doesn’t turn out right.

If you want to be fancy, you can grab an extra pumpkin at the patch and make pumpkin puree from scratch for pie, bread, etc.   If you want to be that fancy… you go, Glen Coco!

Bonus:  Get your can of pumpkin pie mix before the Thanksgiving rush!

Apple pie

My mouth is watering just thinking about it!  Kids love getting their hands dirty in the kitchen… so let them!

Put the kids to work peeling the apples, you chop them, let them find and measure the other ingredients and mix the sugars and apples by hand, you put it in the oven while they put the ingredients back where they belong and start on dishes!

If you’re not a crust person, like me, go for an easy apple crisp.  Place the apple filling directly into a greased glass 9×9 and throw the buttery, sugary crisp on top!  Easy peasy!

Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

A delightful treat you can keep in the cookie jar the whole season!
Want to be lazy?… Yes, please!

1 15-ounce can of cooked Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie mix), 1 box of Betty Crocker Spice Cake, and a bag of chocolate chips (Ghirardelli are always the best!).  Preheat the oven to 350, spoon out the combination on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.

BAM!  Cookies in about 15 minutes and not a single measuring cup or spoon was used!!

So there you have it! 38 fun family activities for this season! If you’re going to be a Pinterest-Perfect Mom and accomplish every single one of these, I give you serious props! I’m going to try… but doubt that a 9-month-old, full-time work schedule and unplanned sickness will allow it to happen! I’ll be sure to come back and update this post with pictures as we get things checked off the list!

If you’d like to accomplish a couple of these, I have them written down and planned out for you on our printable calendar so you don’t have to remember! No need to argue about what to do this weekend! It’s already on the calendar!