I look forward to Fall all year. The cooler weather, cozy sweatshirts, college football and pumpkin spice everything… Fall is my favorite time of year! My girls and I can’t wait to go to our local garden store and pick out pumpkins. Some for carving, some for decoration. Pumpkins are to Fall what cupid is to Valentine’s Day.
We love hosting pumpkin-themed playdates for each Fall, something we’ve done since the girls were little. From pumpkin crafts and stories to pumpkin treats and beyond- read on for tips to hosting the Perfect Pumpkin Playdate!
What to read during your pumpkin playdate
We love so many children’s books about pumpkins. From spooky to silly and informative to imaginative, children’s books about pumpkins entertain all ages and lend to some great conversations about this time of year.
For the youngest readers, Five Little Pumpkins is a fun, rhyming picture book about a few pumpkins who can’t be spooked! Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden is also wonderful for the younger reader. Rhyming text teaches young minds about the cycle of a pumpkin patch, from seed to jack-o-lantern and back again. The Legend of Spookley, The Square Pumpkin has a great lesson for kids about how it is okay to be different. Although he may not be round like most pumpkins, Spookley is a hero and his odd shape makes him so!
Pippa, The Pumpkin Fairy tells a wonderful rhyming tale for little dreamers, complete with beautiful, whimsical pictures. This story, too, has a great moral. It emphasizes the importance of always telling the truth. For older kids beginning to read independently, Flat Stanley and the Missing Pumpkins is an enjoyable read and mini-mystery for young minds!
What to serve during your pumpkin playdate
Pumpkin-themed treats are fun to create and eat! From healthy to chocolaty, pumpkin treats are fun for littles
For a healthy treat, buy a bag of clementines and draw jack-o-lantern faces on them in permanent marker. You could also do the same with individually packaged cups of Mandarin oranges or other orange fruits. For the younger kids, pre-peeled clementines may be easier to serve. No problem! Just take a piece of celery and stick it in the center of the peeled clementine- and voila!- you have a healthy pumpkin treat. Another easy treat for the littlest ones is to cut a slice of cheddar cheese into the shape of a pumpkin. Serve one to each child and challenge him to create his own jack-o-lantern face in the slice before eating it.
For a sweeter treat, make Rice Krispie treats and add orange food coloring to the mix. Form the treats into balls instead of squares and use a tootsie roll as the stem. Instant kid-pleaser! Kids also love getting messy in the kitchen. My girls loved creating “mini Spookleys” using square pretzels and orange candy melts. Just melt the candy melts according to the directions on the package. Then let the kids swirl the pretzels around in the candy melts until they are completely covered, and let them cool on wax or parchment paper. You can use green frosting for stems or let the kids use white or black frosting to give the pretzels a face!
Another way to get kids involved in the kitchen is to let them make pumpkin-shaped Jello Jigglers. Pre-make orange Jello in a shallow pan before guests arrive and set out pumpkin (or other Fall-shaped) cookie cutters. After story time, let kiddos make fun shapes in the Jello before they eat! What kid doesn’t love playing with her food? You could also make a yummy orange pudding that is easy to transform into a pumpkin to present to guests. Simply make vanilla pudding according to directions and dye it orange with a bit of food coloring, and then cut out jack-o-lantern eyes and a nose from black construction paper. Lay those on top to present the treat (but be sure to remove before serving!)
Don’t forget the mamas! Set out a carafe of coffee and creamers in a variety of flavors… And don’t forget the pumpkin spice!
What to make
For the tiniest guests, who may not actually be able to participate themselves, finger (or toe!) print crafts created by mom make great keepsakes! Try creating “pumpkins on a vine” using 10 little fingerprints. Create orange fingerprints on a white or off white background in no particular pattern. Then use green marker to connect them all and add leaves as you wish. Add your child’s name and date and you can treasure these pumpkins for years!
Another great toddler craft is apple pumpkin stamps. Cut apples in half and let toddlers dip the apples in orange paint. Let them stamp the apples on paper and draw faces on the “pumpkins” once the apples dry! Another easy, fun craft for this age group is pumpkin bracelets. Let kiddos string orange beads on orange pipe cleaners. When they’ve finish, twist ends together and then put one green bead on each end to create a stem. Let kids trade with one another or make a few extra for friends!
Toddlers can enjoy recreating the Five Little Pumpkins they read about earlier. Ask guests to bring old cardboard egg cartons. Turn them upside down and trim the cartons until only five egg holders remain. Turn upside down and let toddlers cover them in orange paint. Once the paint is dry, let them make faces on the pumpkins with paint or stickers.
Older kids can enjoy writing their own pumpkin mystery with pumpkin books available at the dollar spot at Target! For $3, you can pick up 6 blank pumpkin books. Challenge kiddos, after they read about Flat Stanley, to write their own pumpkin whodunit!
What to take
It’s always fun to send kiddos home with a small treat of some kind. For this play date, a small pumpkin is perfect! Pick one for each child up at your local garden store. They are perfect on their own- or you can send them home with a small cellophane baggie stuffed with decorating essentials! Think stickers, googly eyes and ribbon. Anything a child can use to turn her pumpkin into her own personal masterpiece!
Happy Fall, y’all! Do you host seasonal playdates?
Stephanie Jarrett contributed this post as a guest writer. Stephanie is a Midwesterner and total girl mom. Although she now lives in Arlington, TX, Stephanie will always call the Midwest home and is a proud Missouri Tiger. She enjoys reading, running and red wine. When she’s not chasing three little blondes all over DFW, you will find her working from her home office listening to country music.