As a born and raised New Englander, I’ve gotten a nice slice of culture shock during my first months of living in Texas. Up north, pumpkin spice season is in full swing, the leaves are beginning to change colors, and sweater weather is just around the corner. Though I have never been a cold weather person by any right, I did look forward to the first frost and the emergence of brilliant reds, yellows and oranges in the leaves. But here, in the Lone Star State, you’re never that far from summer.

As a military spouse, trying affordable events as a family can get tough in the fall. Here are five things you and your family can do together to bring the spirit of fall to you.

1. Cook a Fall-themed meal

As an avid dessert baker, I’ve already been trying out fall-themed recipes from apple crisp to hot chocolate cookies. If you want a great bonding experience with your family, cook a harvest meal together. Play around with different recipes and fall ingredients like pumpkin, squash and apples, Plan a full course menu with starters, the main dish and, of course, a dessert. For example, prepare a fall dip from goat cheese, pureed pumpkin, some bacon slices and a drizzle of honey for an appetizer, make pumpkin mac & cheese or a hearty stew for the main course and dip tart Granny Smith apples into melted caramel for a sweet treat. The possibilities are endless.

2. Attend a Trunk or Treat

There are Trunk or Treats happening all across the Fort Hood area, so get the kids decked out in their costumes and be ready to hunt for some candy. Trunk or Treats provide a fun and safe alternative to trick-or-treating door-to-door and is also a great way to meet up with friends and fellow service member. Check with your unit, installation or church to see if there is one planned already or check the Killeen Daily Herald for listings of Trunk or Treats in your area.

3. Visit pumpkin patch

It can’t be fall without pumpkins! Take the whole family to a local pumpkin patch so you can purchase your own and enjoy the fun activities the patch will have to offer. Take a hayride, paint pumpkins and run through the corn maze. Don’t forget to get in a photo op!

For more information on local pumpkin patches, watch for upcoming listings in the Killeen Daily Herald.

4. Host a horror movie marathon

This is always my favorite part when fall rolls around; all the spooky, Halloween-themed movies. Pop some popcorn, mix in some M&M’s and watch your own monster marathon on Netflix or through Redbox. Before bedtime for the kids, start the lineup with Hotel Transylvania or a Nightmare Before Christmas. Once the little ones have gone to bed, amp up the terror with classics like “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “The Shining” or scope out a new flick like “It Follows” and “Oculus.”

5. Make your own leaves

Though fall foliage is only found in select regions of Texas, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the beautiful colors. Get kids involved with this artsy activity. Paint coffee filters with watercolors on a plastic tray so the colors don’t bleed through. Once the filters are dry, cut leaf shapes from the coffee filters and hang them around the house for your own fall flurry.

No matter where you are, fall is a time of change and it is important to keep the family involved and close. Try these events and get in the spirit of fall.

Kayla Bouchard is a Herald correspondent and military spouse. She lives at Fort Hood.

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