By Jennifer Halter
Fall is here! It’s a time of year that touches all the senses — the smells, the colors and the cooler weather. Whether you choose to spend your time indoors or outdoors, here’s a bucket list of ideas for family fun this month.
Pumpkin Decorating Party
This month is all about pumpkin everything, and decorating pumpkins is always a family favorite! You
can carve a masterpiece or keep your pumpkin intact and simply decorate the outside. For carving, there
are so many great kits that you can pick up from the store that include all of the tools you need. Some even
include stencils with different designs and characters. As a reminder, be sure to monitor your children if they are doing the carving as these tools, even marked as “kid-safe,” can still be sharp.
Not brave enough to carve or want to avoid the mess? You can paint your pumpkins, instead. For the best
results, use an acrylic sealer on your pumpkin before and after you paint. This will help the paint go on
smoother and will help keep it from flaking or chipping off. Use a sponge brush to apply a coat of acrylic sealer to your clean pumpkin. Allow to dry completely before using acrylic paints of your choice to decorate. Once dry, apply a final coat of acrylic sealer and let it dry completely before handling your pumpkin.
If you have little ones who like to up their decorating game, you could also add things like feathers, pom
poms, sequins and jewels for extra flair.
Break out the cozy sweaters and boots, and head outdoors for the perfect family fall photoshoot! You can
hire a local photographer, ask a friend or take your own (camera tripods are amazing tools!). Create your own “set” using fall décor such as pumpkins, hay bales and cornstalks. Or, head to a local park and use the trees and all of the beautiful, colorful leaves as your props. Even though we still have a few months to go, think about using these photos as part of your holiday cards.
You’re never too old to play dress up, so plan a costume dinner at home with your family! You can choose a
theme, such as “Monster Bash” or “Princesses and Superheroes,” or have each family member dress up
as their favorite character, animal, object, etc. Create a menu based on your theme, or keep it simple and have a takeout night. Make the night complete with a post-dinner dance party or game night.
Early Morning Walk/Hike
One of the first signs of fall is the arrival of cool, crisp mornings. Plan an early morning walk around your
neighborhood or a hike at a local park. During your walk, talk about the sounds and smells you may observe and what you see, such as animals and different colors of leaves. You can even pack a picnic breakfast to make it a full morning of outdoor exploration. Pack some cocoa or warm apple cider for a fun treat.
Roast Pumpkin Seeds
If you carve pumpkins, don’t throw out the seeds. You can roast them for a great fall snack that everyone will love! Try this recipe to roast seeds:
1. Remove the seeds from the pumpkin and separate from the pulp (aka guts).
2. Put the seeds in a strainer and rinse until clean.
3. Boil the seeds in a pot of water with about 1 teaspoon of sea salt. The amount of water you use will depend on the number of seeds you have. You just want the seeds to have enough water to create a
rolling boil for approximately 10 minutes.
4. After the boil, drain the water off of the seeds and spread them out on a layer of paper towels to dry.
They do not have to be completely dried before moving onto the next step but should not be dripping with water.
5. Place your seeds in a large mixing bowl. Add spices and flavors of your choice at this time. You can
keep it simple and just add salt or add different ingredients. Try cinnamon and sugar, dry ranch
dressing mix, black pepper, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, taco seasoning or dill.
6. Lightly coat your seasoned seeds with olive oil. You won’t want them to be dripping with oil, but the
amount will be dependent on the number of seeds you have.
7. Spread the seeds out onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Make sure they are in a single
8. Roast seeds in the oven at 325 degrees for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
9. Store roasted seeds in an airtight container.
No matter how you choose to fill your bucket list this month, be sure to include lots of fun, laughter and love!
Jennifer Halter is publisher of Macaroni Kid Woodbridge and Macaroni Kid Gainesville/Manassas.