Autumn – if like me you are trying to save a little for Christmas, and have fun, and spend lots of family time making memories, this is the blog list for you!
1. Family time – make a promise jar
Use an old jam jar, or decorative box – anything will do. Write 20 things that you would like to commit to doing together this Autumn. Everyone in your family should be involved in making the suggestions and deciding what the top 20 are.
Then together, write them out on individual pieces of paper – you can decorate them and the jam jar in autumnal colours. Throughout Autumn when you are stuck for ideas, you can go to the jar and pull one out – whatever it says, that is what you must all do!
Here are 20 to get you started:
2. Get out into your local parks
Just because the days are getting shorter and there is a chill in the air, doesn’t mean you can’t get out into your local parks. Manchester has a lot to offer – our favourites are Parr Fold Longford and Heaton
– between them they have cafes and swings, zip-wires and animals, lakes and acres of grass and pathways.
Parklives offer a great selection of activities across a whole host of Manchester parks – accessible for all ages and all completely free!
3. Go on a bike ride
In addition to your local parks, if you can get to the Roe Green Loop Line or further afield – the Liverpool Loop Line), then they are fab places for all ages to cycle and are completely free of traffic.
Alternately Chorlton waterpark, the Transpennine Way, and the Bridgewater Canal offer beautiful scenery for cyclists – check out the tracks in advance for age and ability suitability (Canal paths have no barriers).
For more ideas on cycle routes around Manchester – have a look here.
4. Make a collage picture with nature
So easy to do – wait until leaves are changing colour for the best results.
•Go for a long walk in wellies and collect whatever materials you can – leaves, twigs, conkers, acorns etc
•Take time to design patterns and pictures using the nature you have collected
•Using PVA stick to an A4 sheet of card
•If you have glitter, paint and sparkles to hand, these can be added liberally!
•For older children they can take photos on the walk and then try to recreate one of these as their picture collage
Alternately, make a wax firework picture – you know the one, you must have done it yourself at school.
• Colour stripes of wax crayon across a piece of paper
• Cover the lot with black paint so you can see no other colour
• Use a pencil to scratch through the black and create a beautiful firework scene
5. Toast mashmallows on a BBQ or fire in the garden
If like us, you always have a £2.99 disposable BBQ hanging around, now is the time to make good use of it! Whilst there is still some early evening light, use it to toast some marshmallows! It may be too cold for burgers and hot dogs but I guarantee that a toasted marshmallow squashed between two Jaffa cakes will put a smile on your face 🙂
6. Make toffee apples
Simple to do – we love this recipe from the BBC. Ideal for Halloween and Fireworks night – and worth getting some practise in during September.
7. Tell ghost stories in a den
Know any good ghost stories?
Why not create a den from chairs, pillows, sheets, blankets, turn all of the lights out and tell stories via torch light. If you are really daring you could wrap up warm and do this in the garden, or if like me you like your toes to be cosy, the living room works well too. For some excellent ghost stories for children have a look here but always read through them yourself first!
8. Carve pumpkins
Carving pumpkins is one of the greatest traditions of Halloween in our house. What will it be this year – a monster’s face, a name, a cat. Little hands will need help with this activity – consider allowing them to design the art work and adults do the cutting out.
If you want to go and pick your own pumpkin, we suggest you get in early as farms run out quicker than you might expect! We love Cannon Hall Farm in Barnsley where they have a whole pumpkin festival on.
Closer to home another favourite is Kenyon Hall Farm where you can also carve on site (Warrington) and also our favourite for picking strawberries – Sandhill Farm just off J7 M62.
9. Fly a kite
Let’s go fly a kite! My favourite place to fly a kite growing up was down at Otterspool Prom in Liverpool – it’s still a great place to go with the fab indoor play and outdoor adventure centre which is very reasonably priced.
There are lots of kite festivals around at this time of year – look out for events on Facebook as they are often free, you just need to look up!
10. Jump in leaves
Easy and so much fun! Best done in wellies and usually accompanied with muddy puddles. We love Calderstones Park in Liverpool which also has the beautiful Storybarn and delicious ice-cream parlour – worth a visit whatever the weather.
Jumping in leaves can be in your garden, on your street, in your local park – anywhere.
11. Bake biscuits
Follow this simple recipe and bake some biscuits together. We love baking on Saturday mornings and with biscuits like these you can decorate however you like. Get some biscuit cutters or freestyle your own shapes and characters.
If you are feeling brave and fancy a challenge, watch Bake Off and then try one of their fabulous recipes out!
12. Clear out for charity
In the run up to Christmas we try and have a clear out of toys, books, clothes, even bits of furniture that we aren’t making use of. We take them to our local charity shop. This is a great activity for adults and children alike – and there are plenty of places to pass on your pre-loved goods to: charity shops, schools, youth centres, homeless charities – the list is endless. Look for something local that you would like to support and take your donation, no matter how small.
13. Halloween arts and crafts
Halloween offers a whole host of spooky arts and crafts. We love this website with great ideas for home creation that are simple to make and won’t cost a lot. Decorate your home – or allocate a room to each member of the family to decorate and see who does the best job!
14. Make a photo album of the summer
Rather than having 6000 photos on your phone, choose the best bits from your summer and print them off – doing this with the kids and allowing them to choose is a great activity in itself. Apps like FreePrints allow up to 45 prints every month just for the cost of postage.
Yes, you have to buy the book to put them in, but this can be a cheap A4 exercise book which you then decorate the front of.
You then get to spend time together creating the album, choosing the pics for each page, writing captions and memories to accompany them.
15. Read a new book
Go to your local library and join up – spend some time there together looking through the shelves and seeing which books appeal to you. Our local library is a nice bike ride away so we get to combine the two activities in one trip. Everyone in the family should take out a book (or three) and commit to reading them over the following weeks. You can talk about the books at dinner time, just don’t forget to return them on time!
16. Make soup
Soup is so easy to make – it is a great way to involved children in cooking. It is cheap, wholesome and very difficult to get wrong – and I say this as someone who has been known to be pretty useless in the kitchen. If you want to take it one step further and you have the space for a vegetable patch in your garden, you can grow your own veg for your soup – a great way for children to get involved in understanding their food and they will be guaranteed to enjoy it even more. Our favourite recipe for butternut squash soup is here.
17. Go birdwatching
Pennington Flash has some lovely bird hides around the water where you can take children for free to watch the wildlife. Pennington Flash has lovely walks and bikes rides as well as a play area – and all for the price of parking the car. We love coming here throughout the seasons and would recommend it to all families. The RSPB has great resources and activities for families to complete in their own homes and gardens – well worth a look and a great way to spend the afternoon.
Families can exercise together – even when the weather is cold and miserable! Parkruns are friendly weekend 5km runs across the country some of which allow running buggies too. In addition to this there are now Junior Parkruns at several sites across the UK.
Parklives family activities take place across Manchester (and other cities) in major parks – they are totally free to join in with although some require advanced online booking. Cycling and running, kicking a ball around in a park – they all count.
This Girl Can often has initiatives and activities aimed at women and girls – again totally free. You will now be able to find family yoga classes in most areas and what about an early morning, family friendly rave – like this one at The Wonder Inn. Rita and I will deffo be checking this out!
19. Have a Strictly sleepover
Although there may not be much sleeping that goes on at a sleepover, it is a great opportunity for hot chocolate, pop –corn….. and Strictly! Who doesn’t love a bit of Strictly on a Saturday night? Invite a few of the kids’ friends round, make some score cards, brush up on your cha-cha-cha and keep dancing!
20. Have a hot chocolate
And if you don’t fancy a hot chocolate, what about a freakshake milkshake?
You know the ones – they look like they are appalling for your health but hugely delicious. Here are some suggestions as to where to go in Manchester to get the best ones. A little further afield in Liverpool is Barley and Beans – worth the drive.
Last but by no means least – volunteer. There will be lots of opportunities in your local area for volunteering which are appropriate for families and children. From local allotments and parks to farms and nursing homes, homeless shelters to food banks, you will be surrounded by ways in which you can help out in your local community. It could be as simple as visiting an elderly neighbour and taking some of the lovely biscuits you made for them to eat.
Volunteering is a great thing for adults and children alike to take part in, giving something back to those who live locally to you. Always find out about the activities in advance and check their age appropriateness.
22. An extra one for luck! Book your family tickets to Our Kids Spooktacular Social – the best family Halloween party around! Vinyl DJ, silent disco, groovy baby, make do and mess, cakes and the bar, family fancy dress up – and more besides!
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