19 Cozy Things To Do As The Weather Cools Down (That Won’t Cost More Than A Cup Of Hot Cider)

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Although I’m excited for all of the activities that come along with cold-weather season, the old activities have gotten kind of tired. I’m from Connecticut, so the thought of going to another apple orchard kind of makes me cringe. Furthermore, I don’t feel like I have the spare cash to spend on $6 pumpkin-flavored baked goods. For this reason, as I am insanely sensitive to even the slightest chill in the air, I’ve spent the past few weeks in the early stages of my October-through-March hibernation. I’ve re-watched nearly six seasons of Grey’s Anatomy (because I truly hate myself, apparently), and eaten a lot of snacks that are starting to make me feel like a carb-filled balloon animal.

I get emotional when the weather dips below 75 degrees, but I do need to remind myself that the crunchy-leaf-covered ground isn’t an excuse to loaf around like a useless sloth on the couch until spring shows itself.

I needed to find some ambition, lest I let the beautiful season slip by without even stepping outside to sniff the crisp autumn air. I decided to create a list to stick to my bulletin board to motivate me to ~have fun~ and ~do stuff~ instead of letting myself slip deep into the 5 p.m. darkness. Here are my 19 cheap, easy, and festive-as-heck activity ideas for anyone, like me, who needs a little fall-fun motivation.

1. Make hot cider.

Because I mentioned it in the title, so I should mention it here. It is cheap, delicious, and essential.

2. Better yet — make hot chaider.

Holy shit, I can’t believe something so amazing exists. Chai tea + cider = home.

3. Go for a chilly-day hike.

Because bundled up brisk morning hikes are fun, and romantic if you go with your S.O., and a good way to get exercise and do an activity in exchange for no money. Bonus fun points if you bring your hot chaider with you.

4. Have a coffee shop day.

I’ve always been under the impression that a coffee shop is only good for grabbing a cup v quickly, having a sweet small-talk date with an old pal, or spending a couple quick hours alone writing. But my boy has recently taught me how nice it is to make Starbucks my home for an entire day. I wear my comfiest clothes, bring just enough cash for a few cups of tea or coffee, and get work done/study/eventually end up reading a fashion magazine all day long. It is relaxing, it is productive, and it hardly costs a thing.

5. Cook an aggressively delicious meal.

Make the crock pot your bitch. That’s what fall is all about. Bonus points if it is meat-and-potato-y.

6. Find a friend with a hot tub. Use it.

I am the friend with the hot tub, if you need to use me for it. (Note: this is expensive for the friend with the hot tub, but free for you. Unless you bring a bottle of wine — which you probably should.)

7. Put cinnamon in everything.

October is the perfect time to put a cinnamon shaker next to your salt and pepper, because it is now required in everything. Coffee and tea especially.

8. Fake-plan a warm-weather vacation.

I don’t have any statistics here, but one of my professors told me recently that she’s read studies about how planning vacations is supposedly more relaxing than actually going on them. Get all of the stress-relieving benefits without spending a dime, and plan the warm-weather vacation of your dreams (while you silently resist the impending coldness).

9. Bring your blankets outside.

I complain a lot about cold weather, mostly because my favorite thing is being outside, and it is much more difficult to spend time outside when it is freezing. My autumn solution to this problem is to treat the patio like a cozy couch –- bring out tons of blankets to burrito yourself in, and bring books, magazines, your laptop, and your pals outside with you. Bonus points if you bring out booze — you should definitely bring out some hot booze. (#8 on Holly’s Master List of fun fall activities gives some good ideas for that!)

10. Plan your outfits.

Which I suppose is only fun if you love clothes like me, but I get insane pleasure at the beginning of cold season out of writing a list of all my coziest fall clothing items that I’ll get to break out, and planning how I’ll reinvent them this year.

11. Get good at making soup.

The reasons why soup is so important this time of year are threefold: 1) it is cold and flu season, and you must take care of your bod, 2) cold weather is cold, but soup is hot, and 3) soup recipes are almost always for pretty big batches, so you can make one single pot and have it last you a week. That’s a full friggin’ week of hot, dreamy food-water, for the price of one home-cooked meal.

12. Start a new television show.

Because we all need more distractions from our actual life obligations. But this time of year, it gets dark early, and coming home from work at pitch-dark 5pm is depressing as hell. However, the dark-at-five-depression is easier to deal with if you have a good Netflix show and a cozy blanket waiting for you at home.

13. Take a hiatus from ~da club~.

Or like, whatever super-fun, summer-as-heck, margaritas-on-the-patio activities you adopted in May when the weather got warm. You had your outdoor brunches and hot summer nights at the bar. Now it is time for couch-dwelling and baked-good-making, which incidentally costs a lot less money than ~da club~.

14. Go all out with a stay-cation.

People plan lots of rustic getaways this time of year, and while I’d love to wine and dine baby boy at a cabin in Vermont, I know I can’t afford the transportation to another state or the lodging easily. The truly blessed thing about having a little at-home-vacay is that you can allow yourself two days to go hard on your favorite takeout and treats, and ignore all of your responsibilities guilt-free, because you’re on a “vacation” that costs a heck of a lot less than a True Vacation would.

15. Paint your nails an excitingly seasonal color.

Because nothing says “fall” quite like burgundy nails, and this can all happen for the price of the cheapest bottle of nail polish at Target. (These ones are under $3!)

16. Get into some DIY projects.

Specifically, ones that can be done with shit you already have lying around. Bonus points if they can be done with shit you have lying around that is cluttering up your life and not getting any use. I’m working on a few different ones right now. Currently, I’m chipping old wax out of my old, hoarded candles to make them into these festive decorative jars.

17. Embrace bonfire season.

Fire is warm — take advantage of that. You won’t have to wear 13 layers of wool if you’re huddled around a fire pit. It might even feel a little bit like summer again!

18. Host a board game night.

Full-grown adults + children’s board games + pumpkin beer = the perfect fall Friday night. You’re welcome. (Note: the inspiration for this came from a particularly intense game of Life I played with the 11-year-old I nanny last week. Board-Game-Life is entirely more fun than real life sometimes.)

19. Start an organizational project.

Clean your closet. Or your bathroom! Or your basement. Or anywhere else that you’ve neglected to clean for the past few months because it has been too beautiful outside to justify staying inside and cleaning.

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at mary@thefinancialdiet.com!

Image via Unsplash

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