Long before it was trendy and cool, I have been a lover of all things fall.  I’m a California girl so it’s not even like I get to experience a true fall but even a California fall is better than any other season anywhere else in my mind.  Call me basic but I look forward to the sweaters, cooler weather, and pumpkin everything this time of year.  And since I became a mom almost 8 years ago, I wanted to instill my love of fall in my kids and create memories with them during my favorite time of year.

But lets be real, memories can cost money.  So sometimes you have to get creative if you don’t want to break the bank.  If your kids are anything like my kids, it’s all in how you sell it to them.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but you do have to be enthusiastic and excited about what you’re doing if you want them to be.

So with that in mind I compiled a list of my top 10 budget friendly activities you can do with your kids this October:

1. Visit a local pumpkin patch.

For us this is a tradition and the kids look forward to it every year.  Sure it can be a little more expensive then running to the grocery store to grab a pumpkin, but if you make a day out of it with the whole family it can be well worth the extra few bucks. Our local pumpkin patch is $10 for kids and $12 for adults.  The price includes all the activities and you get to pick a pumpkin to take home.  If you’re a fellow SF Bay Area resident, this is a great resource for some fun local pumpkin patches to check out this year.

2. Visit San Diego

We’ve been wanting to take the kids to San Diego for a while now but assumed all travel needed to be put on hold as we’re working towards some of our financial goals but my husband did some research and found out that kids get into tons of attractions for FREE in the month of October in San Diego!  Sea World, Legoland, The San Diego Zoo, all free for kids with the purchase of an adult ticket! There are also a ton of restaurants, museums and tours where kids are free as well.  You can find a full list at www.sandiego.org

3. “Boo” your neighbors.  This tradition started a few years ago when we moved into our house.  My daughter is already asking me who we’re going to boo this year.  Such a small gesture but it makes for great memories for your kids.  Basically you leave a small gift on someone’s porch along with a cute sign that explains they’ve been booed and now it’s their turn to boo someone.  The kids love scanning the dollar section at Target for a few things they want to put in a basket to leave on an unsuspecting neighbor’s porch.  You can find some adorable printables for this on Pinterest.  Here’s a cute one.

4. Watch a Halloween Movie

Confession time.  When I was a kid I was obsessed with Mary Kate and Ashley movies.  One of my all time favorites was “Double, Double, Toil and Trouble” circa 1993.  I probably watched it 47 times that year.  There’s just something about Halloween movies that get you in the spirit.  FreeForm has 13 Nights of Halloween movies starting on October 19th.  You can find a full schedule of Halloween movie goodness here.  I’m sure we’ll be watching several of these this year.  Can you really watch Hocus Pocus too many times?  I don’t think so.

5. Decorate for fall

It may have been September and 100+ degrees here in Northern California but that didn’t stop us from decorating for fall! We cranked up the AC and with my pumpkin spice latte in hand we decorated.  I took the kids to the Dollar Tree, which is a great place to get Halloween decorations at a great price! I gave the kids $5 each and told them they could pick whatever they wanted to decorate their rooms.  That’s how I get out of letting them put random junk around the house claiming they’re decorating for Halloween.  They can do whatever they want in their rooms.  The living room… my domain.  Don’t judge me but I am that mom that waits until her kids are asleep and then fixes everything they decorated.  So this just saves us all the headache and they love to decorate their rooms.

6. Go for a Nature Walk/Hike

The weather where we are is perfect for being outside in October.  My son is in his happy place when he can be outside exploring so we often go for bug walks around our neighborhood, ooohing and ahhhing over every ant, rollie pollie and pincher bug we see. Get outside while you still can, especially those of you that live where it snows.  Grab a light weight basket and let the kids collect some of their favorite fall leaves on the ground.  Those may come in handy for a fall craft.  Talk about what you see.  Especially for the little ones it can be a great learning opportunity for them to experience seasons changing.

7. Do a fall craft

Sometimes I get the itch to do some crafts.  It usually plays out way better in my head then in reality so I’ve learned to scale it back and keep it simple.  One of the easiest things you can do is leaf art.  Use the leafs you collected during your nature walk to create something.  They can simply glue their leaves to a piece of paper, or you can have them do a leaf rubbing like this one.  Farrah made some kind of leaf painting several years ago (don’t ask me how she made it because I don’t remember) and we still put it up every year as part of our fall decorations.

8. Carve pumpkins

I still remember sitting on the linoleum kitchen floor of my childhood home scooping out the gross insides of pumpkins each year.  Now that I’m a parent I dread the mess it’s going to make and the fact that I’m probably going to have to do most of the work myself but I’m reminded of my happy, messy memories from my childhood so I suck it up and carve the pumpkins.  But if you absolutely can’t hang with the idea of carving pumpkins or your kids are too little to carve, there are lots of alternatives.  You could have them paint the pumpkins or decorate them with stickers.  If you’re carving I usually wait until a few days before Halloween so it’s not all moldy by the time Halloween rolls around.

9. Toast Pumpkin seeds

Now that you’ve carved your pumpkins, why not use the seeds?  That way you’re creating more memories for your kids and it doesn’t cost you any extra.  Plus you get a pretty tasty snack out it!  There are tons of recipes on pinterest but here’s some great flavor options

10. Visit a fall carnival

One of the things I love most about this time of year is how many community events you can find that are free or very low cost.  My daughter’s school district does a fall carnival every year.  It gives the kids a chance to wear their costumes more than just one night and for less than $10 they can participate in some carnival games.  You can also look up your area to see if any local schools or churches are doing a Trunk or Treat which is where people volunteer to decorate the trunks of their cars and line them up in the parking lot of their school or church and hand out candy to the kids.  The year we did this with our church also happened to be the year my daughter boycotted her costume and insisted she would only wear her Dora the Explorer bikini and dress up high heels.  It’s funny now.  Then, I wanted to pull my hair out.

So there you have it!  10 things you can do with your family this October without breaking the bank!  What are some other things you like to do with your family?  Leave a comment so we can all get some more ideas.  And if you do one of these with your family let me know how it went!

<3 Krista

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