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Fall into Fun!

With Thanksgiving and Halloween coming up, everybody has a lot on their plate. Keep it all in check by making the most out of it, having fun, and staying on budget. Here are 9 budget-friendly family fun tips to help you get started!

At-home preserving party. Savor the season’s fresh fruits and vegetables by having a preserving party with your family! Believe it or not, much of the best produce is abundant (and inexpensive) right now, so it is the perfect time to stock up and save for the upcoming winter months. Purchase half a dozen or so of jars and some fruits and vegetables for canning. The more selection of fruits and veggies you buy, the larger variety of ingredients that can be preserved. Check out bernardin.ca for a guide to home canning, as well as a great assortment of recipes, like wine lavender jelly!

Grab your kids and head to a pumpkin patch. What’s Halloween without those bright orange globes of autumn spirit? Set a date for that trip to the pumpkin patch where family members can each select a choice carving pumpkin. Then set aside a few hours one week before Halloween for jack-o’-lantern carving. Grab the kids and head to one of these patches located in or around Calgary - Butterfield Acres; Calgary Farmyard; Kayben Farms (in Okotoks); and Cobb's Adventure Park.

Thankful tablecloth. Looking for a unique way for your kids to express their thanks this year?  Gussie up the kids’ table during your family’s Thanksgiving meal with a paper tablecloth (butcher paper, available at Office Depot, or banner paper, available at Staples, works perfectly) and a basket in the centre of the table full of crayons or felt tip markers. Have each child draw or write what they are thankful for (along with their name). After dinner, cut out each child’s portion and put it on the wall, in a picture frame, or even on the fridge - having it displayed will be a constant reminder of what they’re thankful for this year.

Seasonal centrepiece. Get your kids involved in decorating for Thanksgiving dinner by creating a beautiful centrepiece inspired by nature. First, grab a basket and head to the park. Have the whole family collect an assortment of leaves, pine cones, and twigs. Afterward, at home, lay out a big sheet of paper or a garbage bag and place a layer of wax paper over top. Dip the goodies half-way in gold craft paint and lay them on the wax paper to dry. Lastly, display the finished items around the table (on napkins, plates, etc.), or place them in a decorative bowl or basket on the centre of the table.

Cineplex Family Favorites. Every Saturday morning, watch a family favorite film for only $2.99! For a list of participating theatres and movie titles, visit cineplex.com/Events/FamilyFavourites.

DIY Halloween party. Check at home to see if you have any leftover craft supplies from last year or purchase some Halloween costume supplies (fabric, glue, a sewing machine, glitter, feathers, etc.). Print out some costume ideas (check out Michaels website or the Martha Stewart annual Halloween magazine for inspiration) and work together to create some cool, inexpensive outfits for
your children.

Host a ‘most ghoulish’ front yard contest! Invite your neighborhood to join in a decorating contest. You could have a few categories, like the scariest, cutest, silliest, and best overall. Set a decorating deadline for October 21. Provide delivery instructions on the flier so every house in the neighborhood can vote for the addresses they like best. Also, mention on the flier that neighbors should view all of the houses after October 21 and place their votes in a box by your front door by a specified date. You and the kids can make up fun ‘Scariest House’ and other signs for the categories, and then post them in the yards of the winning homes.

End-of-season picnic. Fall often boasts some of the most beautiful weather; the crisp, cool air, warm sunshine, and incredible autumn scent just can’t be missed. Pack a picnic, bring some sweaters and a cozy blanket, and head to your favorite park for an impromptu al fresco meal. If you want to make a fun afternoon or evening out of it, bring along some marshmallows and hot dogs and curl up next to a campfire with the whole family.

Stephanie is a freelance writer specializing in travel and food writing. 

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