Cheap and Easy Ways to Celebrate Autumn With Kids!
I have a confession: My name is Charlotte and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE AUTUMN!
From wrapping up warm to colourful crunchy leaves, darker nights, pumpkin spice, muddy puddles and even the wind and rain, it’s gorgeously atmospheric and probably my favourite time of year.
Add in Halloween and Bonfire Night and it’s so much fun I can barely stand it.
We spent six years in Canada where they go big on fall and really embrace the colours, cosiness and flavours. We’ve tried to continue that while living in Calderdale and our kids are big autumn fans now too.
So to spread as much autumnal love as possible, here is a list of my favourite things to do with kids in Halifax and Calderdale.
Jump in some leaves!
Pull on your wellies, make a big pile of colourful leaves then jump in and enjoy the satisfying crunch! Kids love throwing them up in the air and watching them fall back down. Manor Heath and Shibden are two of our favourites, and we love Judy Woods too.
Go apple picking
Pick a bag of apples (or buy one from the shops!!!) and turn them into pies, crumbles, sponge cakes, apple chips, apple butter, sauce for pork…. They taste delicious and make your house smell lovely. Last week we sauteed thinly sliced apples with garlic and honey, stuffed them into chicken breasts, and a baked a caramel apple pie, delicious!
Decorate the house
We picked up some decorative pumpkins, hedgehogs and branches in Lidl a few years ago and use them to decorate the shelves and mantlepiece. I love the gorgeous autumnal wreaths and flowers you can find in florists too, and we have a bunch of lillies and ornamental cabbages on our kitchen table.
Make toffee apples
Actually I recommend chocolate apples instead after I nearly broke teeth on our homemade efforts last year! Simply melt down some chocolate, insert a lolly stick into the apples, dip them into the chocolate then dip again into the topping of your choice (sprinkles, rice crispies, popping candy, crushed nuts, coconut, etc). If you prefer toffee, there is a recipe here.
Go on an Autumn Scavenger Hunt!
It can be as simple as giving the kids a paper bag each to hold the autumn treasures that they find, or print out a proper scavenger trail. You could even make your own! Some of our favourite things to find are pine cones, the smell of a bonfire and a smoking chimney. The kids love filling their bags too. Clipboards are great for making sure paper doesn’t fly away, and crayons work best in damp weather. Make sure everyone has their own, unless incessant fighting is also on your list!
If you are going just before it gets dark, hi-vis vests for the kids and a torch each ensures everyone is visible in poor light.
Cook on a campfire
Hot dogs, chilli and baked potatoes taste even nicer cooked over a campfire, followed by an ooey gooey s’more! If you have the space in your garden, have an autumnal tea out there or hook up with friends and share it between you.
Go pumpkin picking
Choosing and pulling your own pumpkin is a treat in itself, but pumpkin farms often add additional activities such as wagon rides, fancy dress, face painting and much more. You can find a list of PYO pumpkin and carving events in Halifax and Calderdale here.
Make Pumpkin Pie
A huge slice of chilled pumpkin pie is one of my absolute favourite foods ever! When my kids know I’ve made one they want it for breakfast and I even make them for friends now, with no one believing how much they enjoy them.
ALWAYS use either canned pureed pumpkin or a small culinary pumpkin from the supermarket (also called sugar or pie pumpkins). Never use the big, carving-type pumpkins, they are too stringy to yield good, smooth results.
My favourite recipe is this one from Smitten Kitchen, but I cheat and buy ready prepared sweet pastry and don’t bother with the sauce. It’s bursting with autumnal flavours and absolutely delicious, I swear!
Make Pumpkin Soup
Again, only use the small culinary pumpkins, not leftovers from one you carved. I halve the pumpkin, scoop the seeds out (to roast later) and put both halves on a baking tray with a couple of roughly chopped sweet potatoes, an onion, a few whole cloves of garlic and some carrots. Drizzle olive oil over and roast for about 40 minutes, checking to make sure they are soft enough and not burned. Scoop out the soft pumpkin flesh and add to a saucepan with the rest of the veggies and squeeze the garlic out of its skin. Add enough water to cover, a chicken stock pot, salt, pepper, some chilli powder and cumin. Heat then blend. Delicious !
Have fun with conkers
All that scavenger hunting could leave you with a pretty big yield of conkers. There are tons of ideas here to help you put them to good use, from making conker caterpillars, paintings and incorporating them into maths.
Embrace the heige and gather your cosiest blankets and cushions then let the kids make a den to snuggle in. String up fairy lights and stick battery-operated candles in lanterns. Best enjoyed with howling winds and rain outside. Snuggle inside and watch a movie, or enjoy a picnic tea!
I say glamping because it’s the easiest way of ensuring the kids are warm (although not always a cheap option), but if you are seasoned campers you could go in a tent instead and really enjoy the beauty of autumn. We’re so excited about two nights in a heated wigwam at Humble Bee Farm at the weekend – we’ll let you know how we get on!