31 Frugal Ways to Celebrate Fall

Photo: Kam Abbott

It is fall at last, my favorite season! The leaves are changing colors, the air is getting brisk and cool, and the smell of pumpkin pie is in the air. For those who aren’t enthusiastic about the thought of cooler weather, let us persuade you that fall is just as fun as summer. Embrace the season with these 31 frugal ways to celebrate fall! (See also: 7 Ways to Get the Best Fall and Holiday Travel Deals)

1. Jump in the leaves.

Jumping into a freshly raked pile of leaves is one of the finest pleasures of autumn. Having a playful fight with your loved ones while tossing piles of leaves at each other comes in a close second.

2. Go apple picking.

Apple season continues through October. Picking a bushel or two is a great outing for the family, and think of the wealth of apple pies, cakes, and tarts that awaits you!

3. Celebrate Oktoberfest.

Find a local Oktoberfest celebration and join the merriment at this German festival. Beer, sausages, and pretzels are pretty much guaranteed.

4. Admire the fall colors.

A yearly tradition in my family is to drive out to the countryside admiring the vibrant colors of fall — vivid scarlets and crimsons, fiery oranges and yellows proclaim the best of the season. Save a few of the best fallen leaves to decorate your house for fall.

5. Make a pie.

Get a head start on fall cooking by making the first apple and pumpkin pies of the season.

6. Have a barbecue.

Take advantage of the remaining beautiful weather to grill dinner outside and enjoy it on the patio before November’s cold rains spoil the fun.

7. Decorate the house.

Bring the outdoors inside by decorating your house with vibrant fall wreaths, pine cones, and seasonal colors. If you can’t beat cooler weather, you might as well join in!

8. Dig out the sweaters.

Put away all that breezy summer clothing, and break out the knits! Air out or clean your cozy sweaters in preparation for sweater season.

9. Go to a fall festival.

Check out local fall festivals and enjoy hay rides, pick-your-own pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and plenty of good food (apple cider, anyone?).

10. Indulge yourself.

Bikini season is over, so don’t feel too guilty about that pumpkin spice latte or extra pecan tart. Of course, everything in moderation…

11. Go for a bike ride.

Enjoy the brisk air and cooler weather by getting outside for a refreshing bike ride in the neighborhood.

12. Go to the farmers market.

In some areas, farmers markets close down for winter; in others, they continue right through to spring. Either way, autumn is a great time to check out the seasonal produce and perhaps try cooking something new and unfamiliar.

13. Pickle and preserve.

Use up those green tomatoes left on the vine, the plums on the tree, and the hundreds of zucchini and cucumbers in the garden by pickling and preserving them.

14. Have a bonfire.

It’s just cool enough that a wood-burning fire feels good in the evening. Roast sweet potatoes slowly in the coals, and have fun toasting marshmallows.

15. Attend a tailgate party.

Go to a local football game and gorge yourself on hot dogs and hamburgers at a fall tailgate party.

16. Go camping.

It’s your last chance to take the tent out before it gets too cold to camp comfortably!

17. Go to the drive-in theater.

The cool, but not cold, weather is perfect for cuddling under a blanket at the local drive-in theater. Bring a thermos of hot chocolate and snacks!

18. Take a class.

With the hectic back-to-school season behind you, now is the perfect time to join a yoga class, take cooking lessons, or learn a new language.

19. Plant spring bulbs.

October is the time to plant bulbs that will reward your foresight with beautiful blooms in early spring. Daffodils, ranunculus, tulips, and irises should all be planted in the fall before the first frost.

20. Visit a winery.

October is a great time to visit wineries, as this month is the season for harvesting the ripe grapes. Go for an inexpensive tasting and participate in some of the special harvest events.

21. Make soup.

Celebrate all that fall bounty by making a warming pot of soup (try butternut squash soup, fall vegetable soup, or a yummy corn chowder).

22. Carve a pumpkin.

There’s nothing like a few scary jack-‘o’-lanterns sitting on the front porch declaring that Halloween is on its way.

23. Watch the World Series.

Root for your favorite team and relish the rivalry with your closest friends as you watch this October’s World Series.

24. Stock the root cellar.

Urban root cellars have returned as a major autumn trend. Squashes, apples, cabbages, potatoes, and other vegetables keep well in a cool dark place for several months. Try saving your own garden produce this year.

25. Have a game night.

Make a big pot of chili to ward off the chill and invite some friends over for board games at your house, a great activity as the nights fall earlier.

26. Use a hot-water bottle.

Fill up a hot water bottle and bring it to bed with you to warm your feet. There’s nothing cozier!

27. Knit a scarf.

If you’ve always wanted to learn to knit or crochet, fall is the perfect season to start. Your new scarf will be useful for cooler weather or can be given as a unique Christmas gift.

28. Go on a trip.

Off-peak prices make fall a great season to travel to popular locations such as Cancun, Southeast Asia, and more.

29. Take a family picture.

Capture a family portrait, perfect for Christmas and New Year cards, by posing your family among the gorgeous fall colors and snapping a photograph.

30. Host a costume party.

Have some frugal fun by hosting a fall potluck. Have everyone dress in a costume and bring some creepy themed food.

31. Go trick-or-treating with the kids.

Or have fun handing out treats to the neighborhood kids on Halloween night.

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Meg Favreau's picture

I'm heading back to New Hampshire from California for a wedding later this week, and I'm really looking forward to doing a lot of these activities -- especially apple picking and pie baking!

Camilla Cheung's picture

I live in Southern California, and although we don't have as many beautiful fall colors, there are definitely places to go apple picking even here! But yes, I do miss fall in Toronto (where I'm originally from)...there's nothing like autumn in the East!

Guest's picture
Elyse Stein Zois

In the fall I look for warmer clothing in bright colors. Why are winter clothes always so drab? When it's snowing and 10 degrees out you need cheerful looking clothing not brown, black and gray.

Guest's picture

11. Go for a bike ride. My favorite pastime for 3 seasons but love the cooler weather of fall and the colors along the trails.

Guest's picture

Oooh, Pumpkin Pie! Can't wait!!

Maria xx

Guest's picture

Love it! I love the beginning of every season, but fall is by far the best.
I celebrate fall by decorating and crafting with my family (#7). Of course there's always pumpkin spice latte's and warm sweaters too.

Guest's picture

I remember going to a farm as a kid and picking a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch and then having some fresh apple cider!