Free & Fabulous Fall Family Fun

We last assembled a list of “Free Fall Family Fun” in September of 2019. Then, the economy was thriving, unemployment was record-low, and kids were in school across the country. Little did we know how much more important cost-free entertainment would become just twelve months later. Today, as disposable income is fleeting and family time is more abundant than ever, we think it’s an ideal time to return to our list and add some new entries.

Zoom Blast from the Past

There aren’t many things that are easier to do in the age of quarantine. Travel is all but impossible, socializing is taboo, and seemingly everything requires a webcam. But one thing is easier to do that ever before (and likely ever again): scheduling time with people you love. No longer can we say “if only we can find a time to get together.” Chances are, you’re available to (virtually) hang out with people you’ve lost touch with. And chances are, they are too. So how can you use this rare opportunity for connection? Consider using it to introduce your kids to people they’ve long heard of but never met. A “blast from the past” if you will. Perhaps it’s the college roommate who went on to build an interesting company, or the distant relative who gave you some great advice before moving overseas. We could all use a bit more connection these days. Reach out. Chances are, they’ll be thrilled you did.

Tourists for a Day

No matter where you live, out-of-town visitors often bring out the same revelation: “Well, we never actually go there, but it’s totally awesome. You should check it out while you’re here!” It’s easy to take our hometowns for granted. To forgo the impressive parks, historical landmarks, and iconic buildings and opt to lounge on the couch instead. This fall, take a Saturday to play “tourists for a day.” Check a few travel books out from the library, and dig through them on weeknights leading up to the free staycation. Give each family member a different colored sticky note to mark points of interest. Compare notes over dinner, and make a plan. You’ll make connections in the planning, memories on the weekend, and might even discover new favorite hangouts for years to come.

Family Invention Challenge

If you missed last summer’s Family Invention Challenge, we strongly recommend you take a look at it today. A kid-friendly spin on Shark Tank, the challenge turns problems and headaches into solutions (and even potential spending money.) It doesn’t have to cost a dime, but it could make you a few. Plus, it’s a great way to transform the bad habit of complaining into a good one: problem solving. 

Neighborhood Leaf Bonanza

Kids and adults have different perspectives on lots of things. One of them most glaring: leaves. To adults, their presence is a chore. To kids, the more the better. Want to give your kids the leaf pile of their dreams? Team up with your neighbors to rake all of their leaves on a designated day, then collect the crunching wonders in massive pile on a tarp. Let the kids jump and play to their hearts’ content, then fill your yard waste bags together as a neighborhood.

Fort Night

No, we’re not talking about a game, here. We’re talking about the old school, blankets everywhere, flightlight-in-hand, books open, phones off, cozy paradise that is fort building. But this fall, don’t just toss a pile to the kids and do the dishes. Join in on the fun with clamps and height your kids can’t access to create a maze of forts for the whole family to enjoy. When your cotton metropolis has been set up, turn on a family movie for a blockbuster screening under the blankets. 

Rube Goldberg Machine

When the season’s first rainy day arrives, use the weather as an excuse to get creative indoors. Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist famous for making sketches of complicated machines tasked with simple assignments like wiping a man’s face with a napkin using a series of gears, gizmos, and gadgets. Today, a YouTuber by the name of Joseph’s Machines has brought the cartoons to life with real contraptions guaranteed to amaze. Get some inspiration from Joseph, then engineer a Rube Goldberg machine with your kids.