Fun Fall Festivities

owlI have always loved summertime, but my husband makes a great argument for fall being the best season of the year. With football games, tailgates, cooler weather, and holidays, it’s hard to deny he has a strong case for the awesomeness of fall. But the planner in me has come up with a few ways to make fall even more awesome (if that’s possible).

With some simple planning ahead of time, you can shake up some everyday fall gatherings. Not only will the event go more smoothly, but you might also start a new tradition. Below are some tips for fun fall festivities.

Kid-Friendly Tailgating: Before my son was born, my husband and I held season tickets to the Alabama home games and often enjoyed tailgating before going into the stadium. But hanging out on the quad can seem a lot harder with kids.

A friend of mine has figured out ways to entertain the kids while enjoying the cookout with adults. It’s important to make sure there are plenty of kid-friendly foods like hotdogs and juice boxes in addition to your usual ribs and tea. If space allows, you can set up a small bounce house or some outdoor kid games. If you’re the type who sets up TVs on the quad, include an extra screen to play cartoons or kid movies. Pack ‘n Plays are also great for a comfortable naptime.

Costumes for Charity: I love an excuse to get friends together and wear silly costumes, but my husband hates dressing up in character. This year I hope to throw a “costume optional” Halloween party to make us both happy. However, there is one twist. Anyone who does not come in costume must pay $5 at the door to enter. Whatever money is raised will go to the charity of my choice.

Schools, organizations and other fundraisers could easily utilize this idea on a larger scale. Of course, those in costume can donate as well. Chances are when the cause is advertised beforehand, many people will likely give more than the minimum donation required.

Trick-or-Treating Alternative: While trick-or-treating and fall festivals are a natural part of Halloween for kids, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for something new. Instead of (or in addition to) running door to door for candy, consider setting up a mini carnival in the back yard for small kids.

Set up simple games like pick-up ducks and ring toss, complete with candy or other small prizes. Most kids get just as excited about stickers and tiny trinkets as they do candy. Best of all, parents will be even more trilled to not have to monitor the amount of candy eaten at a time.

• Planned Potluck: With the holidays approaching and weather growing cooler, comfort foods are a big staple of any fall gathering. Sometimes though you can get in a rut of just grilling out or having a random potluck meal. Themed dinner parties are a fun way to try something a little different.

Plan a dinner with all soups, all casseroles, all family recipes, or even a brunch menu. Encourage everyone to bring copies of their recipes to share with others. Let the host supply paper ware and drinks, while one or two people bring a surprise dessert to go with the theme.

Whatever you plan to do this fall, make sure to savor this wonderful season that is meshed between the stresses of summer busyness and the craziness of the Christmas season.

*This article was originally written for Kids Life Magazine of Tuscaloosa.

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