When times get tough, people seek more entertainment. We need to get away from the news of dwindling retirement funds and collapsing banks. However, most of us are trying to pinch our pennies these days. Here are 9 frugal fall entertainment options to keep your mind off the troubles without squeezing your wallet.
See a Matinee
Movies are fun, but who wants to pay $12 a ticket? If you don’t have an Entertainment Book that will get you great discounts on movie tickets, hit a matinee. Go right after lunch so you won’t be tempted to buy popcorn. If you must have a snack, sneak in water bottles and toasted nuts.
Go to a U-Pick Farm
Take the whole family to a U-Pick farm for an afternoon of apple picking. When you get home, bake your fruit into pies, cook applesauce, and make apple bread. If you have a cellar, the apples will store for quite a while, so that will save money on groceries, too.
Carve a Pumpkin
Buy pumpkins from the farmer’s market, pumpkin patch, or grocery store. Opt for sugar pumpkins if possible. Carve them the night before Halloween, and bake a pie from those same pumpkins the night after. To avoid eating wax, put a small piece of aluminum foil under the candle, or put it in a clean votive cup.
Have a Movie Marathon
If you have Netflix or Blockbuster, order three related moves and hold a movie marathon day. If you don’t subscribe to a movie service, visit the library to browse their selection of DVDs. Then make popcorn, bust out the big bag of M&Ms, nosh on nachos, or whatever else screams movie mania. It’ll be just like going to the theater, except with more comfortable seats and no need to pay for parking.
Go Leaf-Peeping in the Neighborhood
Usually leaf-peeping requires driving. If you don’t want to use the gas, go leaf-peeping in your neighborhood. Borrow a book about local trees from the library, then set out for a nice walk to admire the local trees and fall leaves.
The whole family should choose one book everyone wants to read, and then spend an hour every night reading it aloud. Most people have probably finished the Harry Potter series, but The Book Thief and Madapple are getting a lot of good press these days. For those of you who don’t have kids, give one of the above a try or delve into a classic you’ve been interested in reading for a long time.
Cook a Group Meal
Not only is this a fun activity, but it’s a good lesson if you have kids. If you don’t have kids, gather your friends for a night of cooking, wine-tasting ($5 bottles), and general merriment. Choose an affordable menu from the grocery sale flyers, and then assign everyone a task or dish to cook in your home.
Not a video game night. A family game night. Play the classics like Monopoly and Pictionary, or try one of the latest games like Cranium. Invite several friends over, then split up into groups. Ask everyone to supply suitable junk food and wine to keep the games going through the evening. If no one has games, then it’s time for Cutthroat Charades. When choosing difficult clues, consider not only the obscurity of the title, but also whether or not it’s easy to act out.
Attend a Museum on Free-Admission Day
Unfortunately, most free museum days are on weekdays, but both Bank of America and Target are sponsoring free weekends at museums around the country. WalletPop has more details on options through the end of the year. You may also find local children’s or science museums that are free every day, all year round. Check your local travel bureau for more information.
If you want more fall entertainment ideas, check out the local free weekly newspaper or calendar section. You should be able to find numerous free activities throughout the fall.