Newsflash! Despite my tales of scrounging the company fridge for leftover Choibanis and harnessing my inner Henry David Thoreau on the regular, I don’t actually give a shit about being frugal. So long as you’re saving what you need for retirement and you’re 100% prepared for the next economic downturn, do what makes ya happy (while being kind to Earth)! It’s just that for 99% of us, working towards savings goals requires conscientious saving and spending. That’s why we talk about it. But the reality is, pinching pennies kinda sucks. It can feel frustrating and limiting. So a more interesting question becomes How do we avoid letting frugality feeling like austerity?
I’m aware that I risk sounding like a cheesy asshole when I say this, but I love fall because I love seeing people stop and soak up the world around them. If we acknowledge and actively appreciate the small joys of life, perhaps we’ll need to spend less to fill the space created by boredom or lethargy or sadness or whatever. Because that’s easier said than done, let’s keep encouraging one another. Annnnd sooo without further ado, here are my sixteen favorite ways to enjoy fall for free! (And please share yours in the comments below!)
1. Halloween and autumn-themed SNL skits
Last year I kicked off my fun, free holiday ideas list with SNL skits, so for fall, I’ll do the same.
“Whiskers R We Thanksgiving Catacopia”: Because these two women are gifts to the world, no matter the season.
“Drunk Uncle on Halloween”: “So I’m not a jack of all lanterns, okay?”
“A Girl’s Halloween”: For the social commentary.
“Lawrence Welk and the Dawn of Autumn”: For the perfectly-executed crow kick.
“David S. Pumpkins”: I really, really don’t want to like this one but admit that a hearty laugh escaped me.
“Cut for Time: Thanksgiving Foods”: I should keep a bowl of peas on my nightstand.
Which ones am I forgetting? Post in the comments below, and I’ll add ’em to the list!
2. Lenny Kravitz’s scarf
It’s been exactly five years (but who’s counting?) since Lenny Kravitz stepped out in full fall bloom. Every year I love looking at this picture more—this is one fall tradition that I’m hoping to grow old with.
3. Leaf peepin’
Easy one! Aside from candy corn, which is easily the best part of fall—and I’ll fight whomever to the death on this!!—green leaves morphing into reds and yellows against an early autumn blue sky is god damn divine. Trees already have magical healing powers, and then we get autumn.
Leaves also make a delightful crunch when you step on them. In terms of satisfaction, it ranks right above bubble wrap and right below popping a righteous zit. When you get the urge to spend money on shit you don’t need this season, go out and crunch some leaves!
4. Crashing tailgates
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOOTTBBALLLLL?! There’s hardly a set-up on earth as custom-fitted to the proclivities of the Dumpster Dog as a tailgate. A bunch of gluttonous drunk people who want to share their Costco seven-layer dips and four-foot beer bongs? Yes, please!
5. Re-envisioning NFL teams with British mascots
Speaking of football season, few things in this world bring me the same level of happiness as this person that turned all of the NFL logos and mascots into their old-timey British equivalents. Each year, I dust the ol’ interwebs off this bit o’ genius and have myself a chuckle.
A few favorites:
The Detroit Lions reimagined British:
The San Francisco 49ers:
I’m am now a Buffalo Bills fan for this reason alone:
6. Being a Basic Bitch
If the premise of basic bitch-dom is getting joy out of simple, seasonal things, then count me in! I may occasionally make fun, but I whole-heartedly believe that if floofy scarves, being cozy in front of a fire, and a simple coffee drink makes you happy, you’re doing something right.
7. “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers”
I know they’re not free, but I enjoy warty and misshapen gourds wherever they are, whether or not they’re mine. And they’re everywhere. Not sold? Please read “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers.” It’s a classic tale of mutant veggies that I someday hope to read my children.
8. Scaring strangers and loved ones
Being strange gets a big pass around autumn. Use/abuse this privilege wisely.
9. Enjoy everyone else’s obsession with Halloween
If you’re on a budget and don’t wanna spend a bunch of moola on Halloween decorations this year, NOT TO FEAR! We live in America. “The bigger the better” applies to more than just portion sizes and truck tires. Find a neighbor who decks out their house in King Kong-sized inflatable spiders, fake graveyards, and of course, a realistic human corpse roasting on a spit over an open flame.
10. Learn about / celebrate Dia de Los Muertos
I love Dia de Los Muertos even more than I love Halloween, and that’s saying a lot. Because it is assumed that the dead would be offended by mourning and sadness (damn right), Mexicans do a colorful multi-day celebration to remember passed loved ones. This includes parades, an “ofrenda” (altar) decked out with marigolds, photographs, “calaveras” (decorative skulls) and “calacas” (skeletons) dressed in their finest celebratory threads, and parties complete with the favorite food and drink of the deceased. It’s the artistry of the holiday, the tradition of honoring loved ones, and the acceptance and celebration of the circle of life that enamors me.
Find a celebration in your area! If you’re in Portland, the both the Portland Mercado and Cargo (usually) have beautiful parties. If you’re not able to make it to a party, get to Cargo before to enjoy their decor! Their altars are masterpieces, completely free for all to enjoy.
11. Dogs in costumes
I expect that you’ll need no convincing on this one. I did the right thing and made us a compilation:
12. Fall hikes
While I adore the radiator breath against the cool air, the electric green mosses and autumnal color scheme, it’s understanding that this is probably your last dry hike before the Portland rain sets in for eight months that makes a fall hike extra sweet.
13. Running amok in costume stores
You don’t have to buy to try! I could spend all day in my alternate dream reality.
14. Witchy woo woo everything
A girl never forgets the first time she’s accused of practicing witchcraft. For me, it was sophomore year in High School. Maybe I’ll write about it one day, but for now, I’ll summarize: School administrators confronted my parents. (And FYI, I wasn’t.) As I’ve grown into an adult woman, my love for all things witchy woo woo has grown. Of course it has! Historically, women who are accused of witchcraft are the ones that make men feel threatened or are unconventional in appearance or behavior. Those women are my women.
Watch a movie or read a story to honor an old witch. Hocus Pocus, The Craft, and The Witches of Eastwick are a few faves.
15. Crafting, bitches!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This includes, but is not limited to, DIY costumes. I truly love any excuse to craft and don’t care who knows it. For my free crafting fun this year, I’m drying and stringing marigolds from my mom’s garden. (See #10, Dia de Los Muertos.)
16. Laughing/SMH at the sexy costume industry
It’s SEXY [FILL IN THE BLANK] season, y’all!! Sexy hamburger, sexy carrot, sexy fidget spinner—there’s really no limit to the sheer number of inanimate objects that the sexy costume industry will turn into an excuse to show off some tiddies and leg in the cold of near-winter.
Now, I want to be careful here: I’m a big advocate of women wearing whatever the hell they want, but I can’t help but laugh at the randomness of these commercially produced get-ups. And sometimes, the expectation of being a woman is just too much for me:
*CLEARLY I am aware that not all doctors are white men and not all nurses are women but, surprise!!! The sexy costume industry is NOT where to go if you are yearning for thoughtful gender representation.
OH, YOU THOUGHT I WAS KIDDING ABOUT THE SEXY FIDGET SPINNER COSTUME?
Big missed opportunity to put a fidget spinner above the crotch, in prime flicking territory.
SEXY AL GORE: Nothing says “I’m against global warming in theory but not in practice” quite like this new, pre-packaged reduce, reuse, recycle costume.
SEXY NATIVE AMERICAN: No. No. No. No.
SEXY OSCAR THE GROUCH: Perhaps this only upsets me because I’m an old woman stuck in her ways and find the original so damn beautiful. I’ll learn to change.
SEXY FORTUNE COOKIE: The cultural appropriation here is not forgivable, but I just hope she gives viable investing tips and tangible ways to support other women as her fortunes.
SEXY VLADIMIR PUTIN: Okay, this is brilliant. Who did this?
SEXY WHO THE HELL KNOWS: Okay, but really, what is this? The bears on her boobs are wearing bunny costumes. Huh?? Send help.
SEXY GENIE: Because, men.
Okay, enough. I’ve rubbed the proverbial “one” out. Time to go to bed.
Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite FREE way to enjoy the fall season? I’d truly love to hear about it! Share in the comments below!