Fall is such a beautiful time of the year. With all that God has created with the changing of seasons and the vivid colors to enjoy it is a shame to not maximize the enjoyment of what God has given us to appreciate. It’s also a great escape from the election news this year. So it’s that time of year to get outside and enjoy fall with friends and family! Here is my top 7 list of some ways to enjoy fall:

1. Visit a Pumpkin Patch

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Pumpkin patches are becoming more and more popular. They are more than just a patch of pumpkins for purchase these days. Now you can find pumpkin patches that are full of fun family activities including corn mazes, bounce houses, lots of photo ops (with antique trucks, huge pumpkin towers, and tractors), face painting, hayrides, and more.

If you live in the area around Southlake, TX there are two great pumpkin patches I can recommend. One is in Grapevine and is located on Hall-Johnson Road. It is the Halls Pumpkin Patch http://www.hallspumpkinfarm.net. I just blogged about our visit to the Halls Pumpkin Patch: http://livingjoydaily.com/2016/10/15/visit-to-the-pumpkin-patch-2016/The other great local pumpkin patch is the Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch http://flowermoundpumpkinpatch.com. Both have free entrance to their venues. The venue in Flower Mound has more free activities at their location. Last year their hayride was free, as were all the bounce houses for the kids! I do like the animal component at Halls and to visit animals and pet them is free too. I personally prefer the atmosphere at Halls better, but both are wonderful venues.

To find a pumpkin patch near you there is a fabulous website you can use. You can search by state and then region within your state: http://pumpkinpatchesandmore.org/index.php

2. Have a Pumpkin Carving Party

If you don’t have the time to go to a Pumpkin Patch or its just not your thing, you can still get a pumpkin at any grocery store, at Walmart, at Costco, etc. You can get friends together and have a carving party with the pumpkins you pick up. Or if you have small kids you can pick up the foam pumpkins at Hobby Lobby or the even the Dollar Tree!  At the Dollar Tree they have foam art to purchase for decorating your pumpkin, with a variety of faces to chose from.

If you are going to carve pumpkins, you can pick up carving kits at Walmart or Hobby Lobby, among other stores that sell them. I don’t want to damage my own knives, so I like buying these sets each year and for just a few dollars I consider them disposable. My kids will not be handling any knives or cutting any pumpkins, but they can help draw the face for cut out and then they can help with cleaning out the pumpkins.

There are some great websites that have carving ideas for your pumpkin party. My favorite is this site: http://www.pumpkinlady.com, which has over 700 free patterns for pumpkin carving! Here is a photo of some of the pumpkin carvings you can make from the website using their free patterns.

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3. Collect Nature to Decorate Inside

A great way to get ideas for natural centerpieces and wreaths is to get on Pintrest. They have great examples and instructions on how to make pinecone wreaths, centerpieces made with leaves, and more. Don’t waste too much time searching for ideas. Spend that time gathering your pinecones and leaves outside and then pick a simple project to complete. Even something as simple as using glass jars to display your collections of nature are great for creating fall atmosphere indoors. The kids love to scavenge for the perfect leaves and pinecones while out on walks too. It is a fabulous family activity, especially when you have young kids.

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4. Go on a Scenic Drive to See the Leaves Changing Colors

If you live in Southern Florida, you may not get to enjoy the changing of colors. However, if you live just about anywhere else you can find leaves changing colors. We have mild winters here in Dallas (in my opinion, since I grew up in Wisconsin), but we still have great color changes that happen here! There is a terrific website that is a state to state guide on fall colors. They also have links to local areas that are best for seeing the fall colors. http://usparks.about.com/od/usstateparks/tp/Fall-Colors-By-State.02.htm

If you live in Texas, then Texas Hill Country is a great place to visit during the fall while the leaves change colors. Including Lost Maples State Park:

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Don’t forgot to bring a camera and take photos. This website has tips on how to take great photos of the fall foliage: http://www.popphoto.com/how-to/2011/10/5-tips-better-fall-foliage-photos

5. Make Costumes

Homemade costumes are the best! You can make memories while making them with friends and family, and then you get to enjoy actually using the costumes. Homemade costumes tend to be more unique and creative than boxed store costumes. Here are a few that are from a very useful website: http://www.coolest-homemade-costumes.com.

6. Host a Fall Party

There is no better way to get in the fall spirit than to host a party that is fall themed! From costume parties to a party where the food is fall themed (think lots of pumpkin flavor so), there are ideas galore! Having a bonfire outside in the fall air is also a wonderful treat for your guests. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to host a fall party, as the great outdoors is the best venue and atmosphere already created by God!

7. Attend a Local Trunk-or-Treat or Fall Festival

Many churches and even schools have fall festivals or truck or treat events. Keep your eyes and ears open for your local events. Most churches gladly welcome the community, as they consider the event part of their outreach to the community and a way to connect with community members. Check out the signage as you drive by your local churches and schools to see which are advertising such public events.