5 fantastic fall activities
Now that it's autumn, the days are getting shorter, the air is getting cool and the leaves are turning and falling from the trees. But this is no time to hibernate! Instead, switch to flannel sheets, don a cozy sweater, and pull out your soup and stew recipes. It's time for some, cool, crisp, fall fun with family, friends and neighbors.
Fall foliage tour
This is a moving party -- through the woods or a park, over a mountain or to a stream. Invite a few families on a scenic hike to connect with nature at its most spectacular. Soak up the rich, vibrant colors of the turning leaves: red, yellow, orange -- even purple. Have the kids go on a treasure hunt to see how many different colored ones they can find. Bring a snack for everyone to enjoy at a scenic spot.
Neighborhood pie bake-off
It's high pie season, so bring the whole block together to taste-test autumn-themed pies, those parcels of warm sweetness and savory goodness. Welcome the classic pumpkin and apple varieties but also encourage less traditional pies -- made with pears, quince, squash, sweet potatoes, dates or nuts. Don't forget quiches, galettes, tarts and savory pies too. You'll discover new, delicious recipes while enjoying an old-fashioned community get-together.
Kids crafts party
Gather the art supplies and get ready to use fall's bounty for craft projects. Have kids collect leaves, acorns and small sticks and glue them onto a foam wreath (paint it gold or brown first) for their front door. Top it off with a lux ribbon tied in a bow. Kids can also spread peanut butter or marshmallow fluff onto pinecones and cover them with birdseed to create a bird feeder. They can make their own snack too by decorating leaf-shaped cookies with yellow, red and brown sprinkles -- served with apple cider, of course.
No fall party is complete without pumpkin activities. Kids can pick pumpkins and paint them on their own. With help from you, they can carve jack-o'-lanterns. Just don't forget to roast and salt the seeds when you're done!
Potluck harvest dinner
Gather your close friends and enjoy the abundance of the season. Ask guests to bring appetizers, main dishes, sides and desserts that feature hearty fall flavors and ingredients. There's nothing like a bowl of creamy pumpkin soup or beef-and-veggie stew to warm up a cool fall evening! Go for dishes that use root vegetables (squashes, pumpkins, potatoes, yams, parsnips, carrots, rutabagas, cabbage and more); dried fruits and nuts; and bold autumn spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, cardamom and coffee. Visit the Seasonal Recipes Web site for dozens of harvest meal ideas.
Throw an adults-only autumn cocktail party and take turns playing bartender using the flavors of the season. Try creating a roasted-pear Bellini, a pumpkin-ginger martini, a cranberry margarita or an apple pie punch. Print out your favorite recipes and stock up on the ingredients they call for, including things like apple cider, honey and pomegranate juice. Once you've made a few of the drink recipes, mix and match ingredients to create your own seasonal concoctions. And raise a toast to good friends!
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