Updated: Jan 31, 2019
My favorite season is here!!! It seems like each year I start decorating for Fall earlier and earlier and I don't even mind it. The holiday season is my favorite because it is filled with so many traditions and sweet memories. Today I'm sharing a few of my favorite family traditions for Fall. Ones that have always been a part of my life, and new ones that I'm making with our little family and friends.
The past few years we have gone apple picking with a group of friends at a local farm. There is a well known place near us that is big and usually pretty crowded. I did a little internet searching and found a place right next door to the busier orchard called Willowbrook Apple Farm. They are owned by the Swanson family and have a mini horse (as an intense Parks and Rec fan, I was sold at this statement). Each year they do not disappoint. They have the sweetest staff and delicious food. We always end the trip with apples drenched in their caramel sauce, and their homemade meatballs. So so good. My sweet sister-in-law brings her camera along and we get some great family photos to use for Christmas cards. If you decide to visit, go at opening so that you don't get stuck in traffic going up the mountain (plus it hopefully won't be as hot).
Fall Family Craft Day
For starters, I can't say enough amazing things about my extended family. They have kept our family traditions going since before I can even remember, and we just keep adding more fun things. We have always done Christmas crafting, but the past couple years we have added Fall crafting dates to the mix. On my dad's side, I have eight first cousins alone, and between all of us we have 14 kids under the age of 12. It is so fun to see them participate in the things that I most looked forward to growing up. They are all so creative and most of all, not afraid to try new things. I can not recommend making this a part of your family tradition enough. It has impacted me well into adulthood. So if you're new to this, here are some tips on how to put a craft day together. And if you don't have a big extended family, get together your chosen family (your friends) and enjoy it together!
Find some crafts (browse pinterest, hobby lobby, target dollar section) Find a couple doable crafts that you would actually enjoy having in your home.
Split up the supplies. Make a supplies list for the crafts you want to make and split it up between the group.
Plan your crafting fuel (Food). A very important portion to me! Keep the menu simple so that you don't have to spend a lot of time maintaining food while crafting. We usually do a lot of snacks and a big pizza order, or this year chili cheese dogs.
Let the kids be a part of the fun! Kids are crafting machines! I left Fam craft day making 2 things. I think the kids made 50 things. Some of their amazing creations are below!
Tools. For Fall crafting we usually use a lot of reclaimed wood. If you have a craft that involves this, find some people who own and are comfortable around power tools. (This is on my list of things to work on). My husband, Uncle and Dad helped us with a lot of the cutting and drilling while we kept crafting.
Document your creations! Take pictures, and have kids write their name and date on what they make. I love looking back on all of my childhood creations from these days and seeing what year they're from.
Below are just a few of the kid's creations. I love them all! I love that they don't even need direction or a planned craft. All they need are supplies and they come up of things we would have never thought of. I love my little cousin's pumpkin patch! He painted old washers and nuts to look like pumpkins! Brilliant!
Junk Bots! These required some tool know-how but I love how they turned out! They are basically made of old parts and wood. I used thin pliable wire for the faces and welding wire for the robot's face outline. Washers, bolts and nuts were used for details. I think the wrench for the puppy ears are my fave :).
My mom used lots of door handles for hers and just made faces, which came out really cute! You can attach a lot of these things with hot glue, or actually nail/screw them into the wood.
My Auntie made this cute pumpkin guy with knobs for arms.
My sister is a genius and made the Mayor of Halloweentown from Nightmare before Christmas! She saw this top of an oil can can at Treasures N Junk (this place is awesome) and thought it would make a perfect hat. A small piece of tree trunk was used for the face base. This side by side shows the front and back. Too Cute and my nephew loves it!
Use what you have or can find! These items were made from an old drawer and an old chair. You can extend your crafting fun by doing a collection day together. Go thrifting/yard saling/ side of the roading for pieces. My cousin added chalkboard paint to this slim old drawer and chickenwire to the chair. You can find signs like the Harvest one at your local craft store or Target dollar section.
As an adult, I realized that pumpkins from pumpkin patches are ridiculously priced! This year, I'm thinking about going to a local pumpkin patch to enjoy some of the rides, food and photo ops with my husband and toddler. Then I will proceed to grab an awesome inexpensive pumpkin at Trader Joe's! The past few years, I have been painting pumpkins so that they last longer. The older Milo gets, the more I want to give him some of the traditional experiences like carving a pumpkin. I've posted a few links to pumpkin ideas below from simple to ambitious.
Jack Skellington! This looks pretty doable, and I found some downloadable templates here, if you would rather trace it out.
PopSugar has a cute article with some simplistic Harry Potter Pumpkin Stencil Templates!
Disney Treat Inspired Pumpkins- this link has a Mickey ice cream and turkey leg template!
Moana Kakamora Pumpkin- I think that this is just adorable and the pumpkin itself would be so easy! I just can't figure out an easy way to make all of the limbs! Paper mache? If I crack the code to this, I'll let you know.
If you have 500 + hours to make a pumpkin, check out this idea too:
Movie Night In
Plan a movie-night-in with your fam or your closest friends to really feel all of the Fall feels! Use your fireplace or if you have a SoCal Fall, light lots of candles :). Pick a movie to set the cozy tone. The Harry Potter series is a great Fall pick! For dinner, try this simple mini pot pie recipe! It is my go-to in this season, and looks like you spent a lot of time on it :). I sub the homemade crust for store bought, and it's amazing! For dessert, try apples and caramel dip (I try to pair this within the week after apple picking). Also, you can't go wrong with Joanna Gaines' Chocolate Chip Cookies (My husband's fave).
When I'm not in a time crunch, I LOVE baking! Add the pressure of time, and baking can be an unpredictable nightmare. I try not to use untested recipes for holiday events. October can be a great time to test these out, and I don't think your fam and friends will mind the taste testing at all :). If you're thinking about bringing something to Thanksgiving, do a test run this month. I've added some of my favorite baking recipes below that I've tried from Pinterest, cook books or family favorites. Do some hunting to see if your family has any older recipes. These can be the greatest treasures! I'm planning to have some of mine that have my Grandma's handwriting on them made into prints for my kitchen.
Struesel Pumpkin Pie- I have brought this to a few Thanksgiving celebrations. I love traditional pumpkin pie, but if you already have someone bringing a plain one, volunteer this struesel one into the mix. The topping is so yummy!
Joanna Gaines' Chocolate Chip Cookies- I can not stop making these cookies. They usually make an appearance at least once a month right now. One bite of the dough took me right back to baking with my Grandma as a child. They are the closest thing I can remember to hers. I think it's because the recipe calls for only brown sugar. Delish!
Pumpkin Bundts- I think that this is an adorable way to spice up a boxed cake! Pick out a yummy Fall flavored box cake and use a mini-bundt pan. I recently tried one of these pans for the first time and it was so easy! I would follow it up with some easy homemade frosting. My favorite, go-to one is on the back of the powdered sugar bags. Use a pretzel stick for a cute stem.
Chocolate Pudding Cake- A recipe that brings me right back to birthdays growing up. I do NOT like pudding and this cake is still a favorite of mine. It uses a boxed cake and is ridiculously easy! Serve it right away for a warm gooey treat!
Make chocolate cake mix as directed on box
Pour into cake pan (non greased)
Mix together: 3 Tbls. Cocoa and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Sprinkle Mixture evenly over the top of the cake mix
Pour 2 cups boiling water slowly over the top
Bake for 35 minutes at 350 F.
Continue following along on Instagram and Pinterest as I share more favorites and links throughout the season! Do you have a favorite Fall tradition? Are you thinking about starting a new one? I'd love to hear your ideas!