The month of October would not be complete without the smell of apple cider, hay rides and  pumpkin spice. Bringing these things, as well as many others, into your home can be an easy (and fun) way to get into the fal I craze. Try just a few of these suggestions, or go down the I ist and do all of them with your kiddos. Chances are, you will have just as much fun carving those pumpkins as they will.

1) Grab your kids and head to your local pumpkin patch. Make a point to take a hay ride while you’re there and let your children pick out their own pumpkins from the pumpkin patch. Depending on your child’s age, sometime the driver of the hay ride will let them help with cutting their pumpkin from the patch. This is a great time for a photo!

2) Set up your jack-o-lanterns once they are all done and light them up with battery operated tea lights for a fun and glowing-filled night.

3) Take a couple of spice sticks and toss them in a pot of apple cider. Bring that to a low boil/slow simmer and let the aroma of everything October waft through your ho use. Your kids will love coming in from the outdoors to a warm and inviting home. When you’re ready to drink the cider, take the spice sticks out and pour into special tea cups for your kids to enjoy.

4) Caramel apples aren’t just for the fair anymore. These delicious treats are quite easy to make. Go apple picking and choose which apples you think would be perfect to dip into your homemade caramel sauce, or if you’re short on time, grab a bag of apples from the grocery store and a bag of caramel candies. Heat the candies in a large pot until you can stir with a creamy/syrupy consistency and dunk your apples one at a time using a skewer cut in half and poked into the apple as your handle. Let your kids decorate with whatever candy they would like. A few ideas for toppings would be crushed nuts, coconut flakes, chocolate chips, rainbow or chocolate sprinkles, crushed cookies and M&Ms.

5) The dollar store has some great decorations for next to nothing. What kid doesn’t like to hang fake cobwebs from their doorway? Grab a few pumpkin printed trash bags to hold your leaves, spider webs for the front entryway and paper mice to tape onto your stairwell and you will have the whole neighborhood clan wanting to come and see your house this Halloween night.

6) Pumpkin bread, banana bread, zucchini bread and spice bread are a few of the season’s favorite treats. It seems that everyone has a famous family recipe these days and why not carry on the tradition of making bread for your family like your grandmother used to do? This is a great way to get your kids to eat breakfast in the morning and they’re getting a nice portion of fruit and vegetables in their bread depending on what you make. Let your little ones help you by having them measure out the flour and whisking the eggs. They will feel really good about themselves and, chances are, they will be more likely to help you with future

recipes in the kitchen.

7) A bowl of candy corn, peanuts, M&Ms and popcorn is the perfect Halloween mix for any sweet tooth. If you are prone to putting your hand into the bowl one too many times, put it out of sight where you are less likely to splurge. If you don’t mind the extra helpings, have at it and put that bowl smack dab on the counter.

8) Fall decor has a way of accumulating over the years, as does any seasonal decoration. Take inventory of the items you don’t want, and donate or sell to make room for new, nicer items. Kids love to help with setting up something special in their homes and Halloween is no different. Let them help you get those tubs out from the basement and attic and reminisce over holidays past.

9) Halloween costumes aren’t just for Halloween night. Any parent knows that these pieces of clothing are like gold. Let your kids get out their old costumes and dress up to their hearts’ delight before the big night. Save the actual costume they will be wearing this year for the big night, but let them have fun, explore and use their imaginations from collective pieces in years past.

10) sometimes feel like a thing of the past with all of these infusers that are out now, but they really do give off a warm feeling in the home – not to mention a nice scent. Get your favorite smelling candle and make a special home for it on your counter in the kitchen or on your table. The feeling°’that a candle gives us usually helps with the;task of doing the dishes, folding laundry and any other household chore.

11) A welcome mat can seem like such a simple thing and is often overlooked but it is the first thing your visitors will see upon entering your home . Head to your hardware store or department store and pick up a cute, whimsical doormat. Not only will it look nice to have something new and in season outside your home, but it will give your place an inviting feel for all who show up for trick or treating.

12) Basic cable usually airs something special for Halloween like “It’s the Great Big Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” Make it a special occasion and let your kids stay up late that night to enjoy some of the programs you used to watch when you were a kid.

13) Last but not least, paint that face. Who says face painting is only for carnivals, fairs and festivals? This is the perfect time to whip out your cosmetic skills and draw your little girl a heart or tiara on her plump, soft cheek. It wil I be a fun bonding time as you channel your inner makeup artist and she marvels at the way her mom can do just about anything.

Meagan Ruffing Meagan Ruffing

Meagan Ruffing is a parenting journalist, speaker and author of her debut book, "I See You". She looks forward to hearing wha t her kids want to dress up as this year and letting them eat more candy than they should on Halloween.