10 fun family activities for a cosy autumn
The nights are drawing in and the temperature is dropping. Here are 10 ideas for cosy, weather-proof family activities to keep your kids happy and snug this half-term…
By Misti Traya
For weeks my daughter has been competing with the squirrels as to who can collect the most conkers. Our living room has become a shrine to the autumnal treasures she has gathered. Each day, whilst walking home from school, she stuffs her pockets full of horse chestnuts, tiny acorns, changing leaves, and roses that still have a scent but are almost off the bloom. She refers to it collectively as squirrel treasure.
Rather than dispose of her fast amassing riches, I try to relegate them to various small containers. I think if I can keep them compartmentalised then I can keep them from taking over the home. My large salad bowl full of conkers says otherwise. Even though it’s tidy it’s still chaos, but also cosy.
Like the squirrels she adores, my daughter is hoarding for the harvest. Actually, I’m doing it too. Last weekend, it was a few dozen Norfolk Royal apples. This weekend, it’s woolly socks. All these things are bits of comfort and crates of deliciousness to keep us snug when the nights draw in and the weather changes.
‘Snuggling season’ activities
I adore autumn because the air is crisp but not so cold you want to cry. In my family, we call it snuggling season because that’s all we want to do. It is a time for hygge, the Danish concept of cosiness and comfort. It is a time for woolly jumpers and taking tea in your pyjamas. It is the start of crackling fires and caramel apple crumbles.
You don’t need the light of the sun when you’ve got your family. Just spend some quality time together. It will warm and illuminate you. Here are some ideas how.
1) Make art
One of my favourite projects this time of year is papier mache masks. They are brilliant for Halloween. Silhouette portraits are also fun. There are also tons of craft kits available online. Even supermarkets sometimes carry them.
2) Enjoy music together
Does your child know how to play an instrument? Yes? Great! Turn it into a duet or sing along. No one in your family plays an instrument? Maybe it’s the perfect time to learn. Don’t fancy that? Just put on your favourite record for a dance party or let it play in the background and let it be the soundtrack to another activity like…
3) Board games!
The options are endless. For the highly competitive and bloodthirsty, play Risk. For the greedy, Monopoly. For the military minded, Stratego. For the logophiles, Scrabble or Boggle. For the mystery fans, Cluedo. For those who enjoy lateral thinking, Qwirkle. And for a bit of whimsy, Pass the Pigs. Most importantly, don’t forget chess. Games can go for days.
Buy one with lots of pieces and work on it bit by bit. I find having an activity you can do on autopilot leads to good conversation.
5) Cook together
The kitchen is innately cosy and children love to help. Try a classic old-school recipe. Or fill your house with the delicious scent of warm scones, cheese biscuits, cakes, or bread. Have fun shaping popcorn balls or making Rice Krispie treats.
Speaking of Rice Krispies… don’t forget the eighth wonder of the world, S’mores! And don’t let the fact that graham crackers aren’t available in the UK put you off. Just substitute digestives. Nothing beats toasted marshmallow and chocolate cookie sandwiches.
6) Indulge in hot drinks
Three bag chamomile with milk and honey before bedtime makes for a proper treat. Fresh mint tea is enjoyable all day long. Mexican hot chocolate is a nice change from the norm.
7) Get creative with nature
Why not make autumn wreaths to decorate your home? Albert Camus said, “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower”. Use them as such. Add miniature gourds or crabapples for a pop of colour and texture. Also, use twigs, laurel, bay leaves, and holly. If you still have lots of leaves, press them in the pages of a large book. Pull them out weeks later and use them to write the names of your guests for table settings.
8) Arrange flowers
The Japanese art of flower-arranging known as ikebana dates back to the 7th century when floral offerings were made for altars. Autumn and winter are all about floral altars. Think of the marigolds that decorate Mexican ofrendas for The Day of the Dead or elaborate cornucopias. Or if you want something simpler, bring some warmth indoors with golden sunflowers or dahlias.
9) Curl up with a good book
Chapter books are great because they can last a season. Read one or two chapters a night. If you have older children, let them read aloud too. Gather on the sofa or in someone’s bed. Make sure everyone is settled and cosy before the story begins. That goes for teddies and toys too.
10) Invigorate your senses with aromatherapy
You don’t need to go out and buy essential oils to do this. Just turn to your garden for scents like lavender, peppermint, and rose. Or go to your grocery store for apples, oranges, lemons, and cloves.
One of those must float your boat – but if not, remember the crucial part isn’t the specific activity, it’s taking the time to enjoy your loved ones’ company. We need that more than ever when the clocks go back…
By Misti Traya – a writer and mother from Kent
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