13 Memorable Fall Traditions That Are Cheap or Free

happy big family in the park on a picnic. Dad Mom, children, son

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Pumpkin spice and everything nice, it’s finally the season for crisp weather, oversized sweaters and fun Fall family traditions! The last year has been hard, so it’s more important than ever to make special memories during this holiday season. But with money tighter than ever, we need Fall traditions that we can do for cheap or free and still make it the best season ever!

I don’t know about you, but fall is my favorite season. I love the colorful leaves, the fresh office school supplies and the idea that change is inevitable and a beautiful opportunity for growth and cleansing.

hot chocolate and pumpkins fall traditions pin image

Traditions bring families together — with uninterrupted fun and memorable happiness, providing a comforting touchstone of consistency.

While everyone is clamoring for the perfect ‘gram worthy fall festivities, you can rest assured that you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg to have fun and make memories with your loved ones.

Related reading: 51+ Creative Ways to Save Money This Month

Here are my 13 cheap or free memorable Fall family activities that you can do each year from September through November! Your family will love having these traditions to look forward to and enjoy.

happy big family in the park on a picnic. Dad Mom, children, son


1. Have a Total Fall day

This is where you pack all your fall favorites into one day. Start with a pumpkin spice latte, head out to a pumpkin patch, enjoy a picnic with your family, jump in colorful leaves and have a hearty fall dinner– with pie of course! 

2. Friendsgiving

Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner designated specifically for friends has recently risen in popularity. I love the spirit that Friendsgiving brings to the family that we choose. While you’re enjoying your stuffing, you are teaching your kids that all relationships matter, not just the ones that are tied together by blood or marriage. You can also make this event a potluck The host house provides the turkey and everyone else brings the fixins. Cheap, delicious, and fun to attend!

3. Host a Bonfire Night

I can smell the wood burning and hear the fire crackling as I sit here typing this. Fall bonfires are a wonderful way to sit together as a community and enjoy s’mores. Snuggle up in a blanket and enjoy simple, happy moments together. Ghost stories, family embarrassments and new memories are sure to spark up the brisk night. Bundle up!

 4. Black Pie Day Instead of Black Friday 

Instead of being trampled by crowds on Black Friday after giving thanks the previous 4 hours, try Black Pie Day. If you’re into minimalism and don’t necessarily enjoy hunting the holiday sales, this tradition may be perfect for you.

Spend the day after Thanksgiving trying out holiday recipes: Pies, cookies, popcorn balls, apple cider donuts — whatever you want to whip up in the kitchen.

In my opinion, there’s no better way to kick off the holidays than with a house smelling like apple pie and cinnamon. 

5. Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen on Thanksgiving 

Thanksgiving is a difficult time for the homeless. While the end of November is reserved to reflect on all of the wonderful things in your life, the same cannot be said for those going through difficult times. 

I think this is especially important in 2020, as the world has dealt with the economic fallout due to the pandemic.

Helping others during the holiday season can be a way you pass on altruism to your children and help them develop compassion and charity.

Spend a couple of hours at a local organization that gives back to it’s community on Thanksgiving day!

Not only will you be helping those in your community that need it most, but you’re teaching your children an invaluable life lesson.

Remember: Doing good feels good.

6. Family Pictures 

#frugalhack: Snap some pictures of your family at your local, state, or a national park!

In most cases, local parks and state parks are free. If you live around a national park, check the admission fee before you head out. 

Surrounding yourself with nature and taking advantage of beautiful backdrops will definitely make your Christmas cards stand out. Plus — it’s way less expensive than getting professional photos done.  

7. Fall Picnic

While you’re adventuring around outdoors space, taking pictures, enjoy a festive fall picnic with your family.

Pack something simple to eat, I’m thinking PB and J or deli sandwiches, bring water and a sweet morsel or two. Make sure you also grab a picnic blanket big enough for all of you! 

8. Craft Day For Christmas Gifts

The average family spends around $1,000 on holiday gifts each year. That’s not including parties, festivities, or travel! 

This fall, plan a day where you craft gifts for the special people in your life. There are thousands of home-made gift ideas on Pinterest, and more often than not, your family will appreciate the thoughtfulness behind the craft more than they would enjoy a store-bought present. 

This is a win-win tradition: Making gifts with your family creates memories just as much as giving them does!

9. Halloween Flicks Each Saturday or Sunday in October

Nothing screams Halloween like witches, monsters and of course, Jack Skellington. Pop some popcorn, dim the living room lights, and turn on the spooky flicks! 

Make this a fall tradition by enjoying movies every weekend with family and friends. 

Invite them over for snacks and a seasonal film — Harry Potter, Hocus Pocus, and HalloweenTown are a few family-friendly options. 

When the kiddos head to bed I dare you to watch The Conjuring.

10. Gratitude Jar During November 

One of my favorite fall tradition ideas is to grab a mason jar and label it your family’s Thanksgiving ‘Gratitude Jar’. Each day, your family will write on little slips of paper what they are grateful for, what they enjoyed during that day, or something kind that they did or thought. 

Do this for the entire month of November and then, on December 1st, dump all of the paper out and read through the notes! 

This activity can be done throughout the year, but I believe it has special meaning during the Thanksgiving season!

11. Camp In Your Backyard

Holidays this year may look a wee bit different this year. Have no fear though, you can still have fun right in your own backyard!

Pitch a tent, grab s’more makins’, and light a fire for your fam. Some of kids’ greatest memories come from the most inexpensive activities and this is why I love backyard camping. You can even make it more magical by stringing lights and creating your own fall paradise. 

Hand over the apple cider, please!

12. Sign Up For a Turkey Trot

Do you really want to earn your Thanksgiving feast? Sign up for a family 5k or make your own! Growing up, my family started Thanksgiving morning out with a 5k and it was so refreshing on a brisk November day! You can choose different difficulty levels so that all of your family members have the opportunity to participate. 

I especially love the ones where you dress up as a turkey and the money raised goes to a local food bank. But again, hosting your own is a great idea too.

You’ll work up a sweat, share a fun family memory and help those in need during the holidays! 

Burn calories, not stuffing!

13. Cleanout Costumes and Have a Try On Party!

We’ve all heard of spring cleaning, but what about fall cleaning? Go through all of your closets in your house and make piles of clothes that you want to donate.

But wait… where’s the fun in that? Have your family make costumes or parodies out of the items that you are giving away. I’ve decided to dub this new tradition: ‘Cleanout Costumes.’

Creativity knows no bounds! Please send me DMs of the hilarity that ensues from this new tradition!

Making your very own family traditions is half the fun of having a family of your own. While you can certainly bring over traditions from your own childhood, creating new ones for the next generation is some kind of special. I hope you enjoyed our 13 different Fall ideas! 

Which of these cheap or free Fall traditions are you going to try this year? Let me know in the comments!

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One Response

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About the Author

Welcome! My name is Merilee and I’m the creator of Easy Budget. I started this blog to help other families like mine crush debt, budget, manage money, and meal plan like pros!

Everything you find here will be useful, motivating, and always easy. Need to contact me directly? Reach me here!

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