Fall is by far my favorite season: I prefer cozy knit over cut-off shorts, the excitement of Christmas is still to come, and my birthday falls at the end of September (shout out to my fellow Libras!). I knew that when I moved from Chicago to sunny Los Angeles last year that I’d be making a lot of sacrifices (no longer seeing my family regularly, insufferable FOMO during pre-pandemic office days and team happy hours, and saying goodbye to my beloved Ugg boots). But one of the worst? Missing out on the changing leaves and cooler temps when September rolls around.
Fall might look a little different this year for all of us. Even if you still get the changing leaves and cooler temps (lucky!), you’ll probably give up Halloween parties, first days back to school, football games, and pumpkin patches with your crew. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy all the sugar, pumpkin spice, and everything nice that fall has to offer (sorry, was that cheesy?).
To make the most of my favorite season (and pretend it’s 55 degrees and cloudy if it’s really 85 and sunny), we’ve put together a bucket list to get you in the spirit and make the most of the coziest time of year.
DIY a pumpkin spice latte
We love you Starbucks, but sometimes we just want to enjoy a good old fashioned PSL from the comfort of our own homes (and put that extra $4.25 towards our sweater budgets). It’s easier than you think and will take less time than the drive to the closest Starbucks drive-thru. Simply heat your milk of choice, some pumpkin puree, maple syrup or honey, and vanilla extract over the stove. Pour into a mug with hot coffee or an espresso shot (or two), and voilà! To be #extra, top with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice, or try adding extra ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg for a health boost.
Load up on seasonal produce
One of my favorite parts about autumn is the seasonal produce. There’s so much more to it than pumpkin! Load up on produce like apples, green beans, kale, sweet potatoes, and certain types of pears (Bosc and Comice are in season in fall). Ready for a real challenge? Get creative with beets, chard, figs, and radishes, and pair your autumnal produce with autumnal flavors like cinnamon, sage, and nutmeg (BRB, just drooled a little). Bonus points for shopping at your local Farmer’s Market (don’t forget your mask!), where you’ll find an array of the fruits and veggies that are in season near you.
Decorate your home for the season
Whether it’s a few key cozy accents or themed Halloween decor, update your home for fall like you update your wardrobe. Start small with some chunky knit throws and scented candles, or go all in and check out these 15 essential decor items, fall decor you can score on Amazon, or our favorite items on Etsy to decorate for both fall and Halloween. And if you’d rather decorate your front porch so your neighbors also get a little extra dose of seasonal cheer? You know what to do. Lay out the themed doormat, stock up on pumpkin decor, and get a dried floral wreath in seasonal colors like burnt orange and golden yellow.
Cozy up your wardrobe
One of the best parts of fall is that cozy knits, leggings, and oversized sweaters are not just loungewear; they’re fashion. Put your sundresses and shorts in storage or the back of your closet and make room for more chunky sweaters, flannels, warm scarves, and booties. Check out how we’re wearing fall trends at home (if it doesn’t scream cozy or comfy, we’re not wearing it), or perfect your work-from-home uniform this season (based on your zodiac sign, of course). And if you’re ready for some new knits, stylish jackets, and trendy shoe styles (it is back-to-school shopping season, after all)? Here are 40 seasonal pieces that look expensive, but are super affordable.
This year, election day is November 3 (mark it in your calendar!). If you do nothing else from now until Thanksgiving, make sure to vote. After all, what’s more important than casting a vote and getting a say in who gets to lead our country? Many of us are opting to vote by mail this year, so if that’s the best option for you too, here’s what you need to know about voting by mail based on your state. Already registered to vote or sent in your mail-in ballot? Add some of these ways to help increase voter registration to your bucket list.
Tailgate a football game at home
Nothing screams autumn like watching a game in the crisp outdoors, right? Even though attending a game and tailgating with the other fans isn’t an option this year, make the most of 2020 by tailgating in your own driveway or yard. Make some Bloody Marys, grill some burgers, throw your jersey on over a sweatshirt, and blast the pregame show over the radio (or just a killer playlist–we won’t judge if you’re here for the Bloody Marys). Head inside afterward to watch the game or get a projector to watch the game outdoors. Don’t forget these delicious game-day snacks to prep ahead of time!
Hygge-ify your bedroom
Your bedroom should be relaxing every season, but fall is the perfect time to transform your place of sleep into a cozy sanctuary. After all, you probably won’t want to leave your bed until spring (animals hibernate, so why can’t we?), so you might as well make it as comfortable and welcoming as possible. Channel the Danish concept Hygge with a few key swaps. Start by trading out your summer linens for warmer sheets, cozy throws, and an extra quilt or down comforter. Also, try incorporating more candles (the more, the merrier!), adding cinnamon oil to your essential oil diffuser, updating to a fuzzy area rug, and leaving work outside of the bedroom.
Update your skincare routine for colder weather
Just like faux tans, extra SPF, and hair removal might be additions to your skincare routine come summer, cold weather requires skincare adjustments too. Avoid dry, scaly skin, dull complexion, and chapped lips when the temperatures start to drop with a few key swaps. Try adding in a heavier moisturizer or overnight mask, replacing powder makeup with cream versions, and having an on-the-go mist, balm, or oil ready for emergencies (like when you find an extremely noticeable dry patch on your cheek right before a Zoom date).
Clean out your closet to donate cold weather items
Screw spring cleaning! Fall cleaning is not only important for your own sanity and organization (Marie Kondo would be so proud), but dropping temperatures serve as a reminder to donate blankets, coats, scarves, gloves, and hats to those in need. This year, there are even more people in need and even more reasons to donate. If you don’t have any pieces to get rid of, purchase new items, or get your quarantine crew together to do your own mini coat drive. Check out organizations like One Warm Coat, Operation Warm, or a local organization in your city, and look up requirements for keeping donations as safe as possible during the pandemic.
Host a bonfire
Another Friday night where you’re not sure what to do? Not anymore. Grab your loved ones and a few cozy blankets for an autumnal bonfire from the comfort of your home. Try a stylish DIY fire pit in your yard or head to a nearby beach/park to use a public pit. Turn the bonfires you used to love as a kid into a grown-up’s dream with “gourmet s’mores,” AKA pairings like blackberries with white chocolate, or your favorite Halloween candy bar and marshmallow fluff. Don’t forget to prepare a batch of your favorite autumn-inspired drink (Hot Toddies anyone?).
Find your favorite fall candle (and stock up!)
There’s something about a pumpkin spice candle that hits different; a fall candle transforms any space or movie marathon into an oasis. If you can’t get enough of pumpkin spice, you go girl. However, lots of other scents are meant for cool evenings spent curled up on the couch too. Try a variety of candles with notes like fig, vanilla, woodsy tones, leather, or sandalwood. My favorite fall scent is this Cashmere Vanilla candle from Joe + Monroe. It’s how I envision the feeling of being wrapped in the coziest blanket would smell (is that weird, or do you get me?). No matter your scent preferences, find the fall candle that you like best, and then stock up, because you’re going to want to light it every day.
Try out a new fall recipe
Maybe you’ve perfected a chili recipe, or your pumpkin bread is infamous around town (or maybe you’re like me and have never even attempted to cook chili or anything with pumpkin in your life). No matter what your specialty is (or is not), use the flavors of the season to cook something you’ve never tried before. For some inspo, check out these recipes if you’re craving comfort foods (aren’t we all?), or these recipes if you’re more of a baker and that sweet tooth is demanding pies, breads, and donuts. When in doubt, grab a can of pumpkin puree and try one of these mouth-watering recipes.
Take a scenic drive
Because sometimes the simplest activities can be the best, don’t let the season pass without appreciating the bright reds, yellows, and oranges of the season. Grab your car keys and a PSL, crank up your favorite fall playlist, and find a scenic route or drive around your town to marvel at the changing leaves. Also, take more walks or go on more bike rides to enjoy the views while it’s not too cold yet.
Host your own cider tasting
So you can’t pack into your favorite brewery for a tasting like falls in the past? Grab your roommate, significant other, or your entire stay-at-home squad, and DIY a cider or beer tasting at home with the best flavors of the season. Get a few different pumpkin ales and hard ciders at the grocery store (bonus points for sampling from local brands!), and set them up to taste and rank your favorite. Who knows–you might even find a new seasonal drink to replace your favorite glass of wine until winter. PS don’t forget the cheese plate (they’re not just for wine tastings!) and include more autumnal add-ons like mustards, smoked meats, apples, candied pecans, etc.
Rock a seasonal nail color
While summer was all about the neon shades, electric pinks, and pretty purples, this season is full of browns, greens, and grays. If you want a color that screams fall, go for a classic amber or burgundy shade, and if you’re ready to rock one of the trendy it-colors of the season, try out a military green or a metallic silver. No matter what color you choose, it will look chic AF in your mug selfie.
Have a scary movie marathon
It’s spooky season, ladies! Get in the spirit by playing your favorite scary movies back-to-back (yes, Hocus Pocus counts). Don’t forget to grab a bowl of popcorn (would it be genius or extra to sprinkle with pumpkin spice seasoning?) and light your favorite fall candle (as long as it’s not the black flame candle. I still have nightmares about the Sanderson sisters). If you’re like me and scary movies are more torture than fun, watch some of our favorite non-scary fall movies like When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, Dead Poet’s Society, or Halloweentown. PS, if you don’t want to stare at a screen any longer than your daily Zoom meetings require, curl up with a cup of tea and start one of the most anticipated books to read this fall instead.