Autumn may be the most beloved season. The crisp, golden-hued days make it a beautiful time of year for outdoor activities, and there are countless fall traditions to enjoy, from apple picking and corn mazes to haunted houses and Oktoberfest celebrations. The only thing not to love is how quickly these activities can add up in cost — especially when you’re footing the bill for a whole family.
If you’re trying to be more frugal this fall, here are some fun ways to celebrate the season without spending a cent:
1. Go leaf peeping (and collecting).
Whether by car or on foot, take an afternoon to admire the multi-colored foliage. If you’re walking, enjoy the crunch of the fallen leaves and pick up the most eye-catching ones you come across. You (or your little ones) can later use them to make pretty craft projects, such as leaf crowns and decoupage pumpkins.
2. Create your own fall photoshoot.
The changing trees set the perfect backdrop for pictures of family and friends. Put on your best sweaters and boots, bring a camera (or your phone) and head outside for a daytime session while the lighting is just right. Leaf piles bring out the smiles in kids and adults alike!
3. Find a local festival.
The food will cost you money, but enjoying the fun atmosphere is free. Get together with a friend and go to one of the many art fests that take place in the fall — as you peruse the handmade work, you can always take cards from favorite artists to purchase items at a later date.
4. Hike or ride your bike.
Before the weather turns cold, get active in the autumn sunshine. Head to a favorite wooded trail or bike path, and pack a picnic lunch to eat while you rest and enjoy the scenery. You can also check out local nature centers for free programming, such as guided bird walks.
5. Make from-the-pantry chili.
Staying inside? Look through your canned goods for the makings of this hearty fall favorite. Chances are you have most of the ingredients (beans, corn, tomato sauce) right at home.
6. Have a Halloween movie marathon.
Whether you want to watch kid-friendly classics like Hocus Pocus and Casper or grown-up frights like Scream and The Shining, many fall classics can be found on Netflix and other video streaming services. All you have to do is make popcorn and hit play!
7. Bake a fall treat.
You may need to buy a few items from the store, but baking is an inexpensive way to embrace the seasonal produce and flavors. Fill an apple with pecans, brown sugar, butter and more sweet stuffings, then pop it into the oven for a no-fuss dessert; or use pumpkin to make your own pie or bread.
8. Cozy up with a book.
This is the perfect time to tackle your reading list, especially when it’s rainy outside. Take advantage of your library card, and mix your own pumpkin spice latte at home to avoid overspending at Starbucks.
9. Have a backyard bonfire.
S’mores season isn’t over yet! Call your neighbors over for a final outdoor gathering before winter arrives, and make sure to heat up plenty of apple cider.
10. Carve pumpkins.
Fall isn’t complete without decorating your own spooky (or not-so-spooky) pumpkin. Use some of the money you’ve saved while enjoying free fall activities to visit a local farm and pick out gourds for the whole family.