A Bucket List for Fall

Activities that will add spice to the season.

When the leaves turn colors and the air is crisp, Caitlin Upton gathers her family and pulls out a whiteboard and a marker. She’s careful to jot down all of the ideas, shouted in rapid-fire fashion, from her three children.

“We always create a fall bucket list of things that we want to do as a family,” said Upton, who is a mother of three children ranging in age from two to seven. “This year, the kids want to go on a hayride and pick pumpkins. It’s not too original, but they love it and get really excited about it. It gives us something to look forward to during the week when we’re so busy.”

Creating a fall bucket list — a compilation of experiences or achievements that one wants to accomplish — is an important way to create lasting family traditions and memories, while enjoying all that the season has to offer. From hayrides to pumpkin-carving, fall ushers in enough family-friendly activities to create an overflowing list of activities that make the most of the season’s bounty.

“The start of a new season is a perfect time to create bucket list, and during fall there are so many fun things to do,” said Upton, a marriage and family therapist in Burke. “So often, people have ideas of things that they want to do either with their kids, their friends or just personal things, but never get around to them. It’s important to write them down and commit to doing them. I write our list on a white board in our kitchen, but I keep it short and attainable so we don’t get overwhelmed. Carving out quality time to spend with family is important,”

Foraging for vibrantly color fallen leaves in shades of orange and yellow is at the top of Bella Middleton’s bucket list. Middleton, who is an art instructor in Bethesda, gathers her two preschool-age children and collects leaves with the goal of turning nature into art. “Sometimes we do something as simple as taking branches with leaves that have turned orange and put them in vases that we display around the house. I mix pumpkins with leaves to create a centerpiece for the dining room table.

Making wreaths and collages is another project that Middleton does with her family. “This is really one of the most inexpensive and fun projects that you can do,” she said. “My kids and I go to a park and gather fallen leaves. Then I get some construction paper and glue sticks or spray mount and let my kids attached the leaves to the paper in any way they want, then I display their works of art around the house. It’s a great way to welcome the season.”

Turning leaves into candle holders is another project that Middleton and her family enjoy. “You take leaves and glue them to the inside of mason jars and let them dry. You can attach the leaves with a craft glue called Modge Podge, which dries clear. Tie a pretty ribbon around the mouth of the jar and you have a beautiful decorative piece for fall.”

Spending a day enjoying a scenic drive to Shenandoah, passing through the so-called Apple Trail, is must-do task for Arlington mother Camilla Kendrick and her family.

“It’s a beautiful drive down. We stop and pick apples and then we come home and make apple doughnuts,” said Kendrick, who works as a private chef. “They’re messy, so the kids think they’re fun to make. I also make apple cider doughnuts for some of my clients.”

Taking a local fall foliage drive with her four children is something that Lauren Bickle puts on her bucket list each fall. “It’s certainly not as breathtaking as the foliage in some place like New England, but this area has a lot to offer,” she said. “There’s Great Falls of course, and then Mount Vernon and Arlington National Cemetery have some great colors. If you’re up for a longer drive, Harper’s Ferry in Maryland is fantastic for a fall day trip.”

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