By now our northern sisters are pulling on their sweaters, and cozying up with a mug of something steamy to welcome the cool, crisp season. To say we’re jealous is an understatement.
Down here, even though the calendar says that fall has technically arrived, end-of-summer storms, balmy temps, and still-longish days have us Southern mamas feeling like autumn is still eons away. But who really decides when it’s fall? To me, all of the following must occur in order to mentally turn the page on summer.
1. Bake Some Pumpkin Muffins
The best recipe I’ve found is from Southern Living. These muffins are moist, filling, and not too sweet. My kids prefer them without the dried cranberries or nuts, so I just omit those ingredients. Your whole house will smell like fall (even though you might still have to crank up the AC when you crank up your oven).
2. Get Your Tailgate On
Perhaps you’re a die-hard football fan who goes all-out with ham biscuits and deviled eggs with strategically placed chives on top that mimic the laces of a football and watches every play with bated breath. Or maybe you prefer to watch your football on the couch with a pizza on the way. Or perhaps you don’t care much about the game at all and just prefer socializing with your friends while the kids toss the football during the tailgate or play cornhole. Even if you don’t think Friday night lights will do a thing for you, just listing to the marching band (college, high school … it matters not) is sure to leave you with that fall feeling.
3. Do a Boot Check
Time for boot inventory! Even if it’s too hot to wear them just quite yet, scrolling through Instagram for boot inspiration will give even your feet something to get excited about. Be sure to follow Just the Thing, Scout and Molly, Monkees, and Fabrik to plan your boot reboot.
4. Plan Those Halloween Costumes
If your kids are anything like mine they are strategizing on their costumes the second the pool closes. But please do not “add to cart” or start collecting the pieces for this ensemble just yet. They will change their little minds 14 more times before settling on something. Enjoy the ride, and don’t get your cobwebs in a cluster over it if they start talking about something elaborate or expensive because they will be on to something else tomorrow.
5. Buy Your Tickets to the South Carolina State Fair
The good old-fashioned family fun includes traditional rides, award-winning livestock, and of course, fair food like Elephant Ears (let your skeptical 5-year-old know it’s actually just fried dough with toppings like powdered sugar and fruit!) and new menu items each year. Now that sounds like fall!
6. Stock Up on Candy Corn and Candy Pumpkins
There’s something about these sweet seasonal treats that takes me back to my childhood. Seeing them in the grocery store is like a harbinger of fall. Stash them in mini mason jars to avoid eating them by the handful straight out of the bag, and you may even have a few leftovers for your kids.
7. Prep Your Porch
By now your summertime container plants are probably a little worse for wear. They’ve been neglected while you were on vacation and dried out when your 7-year-old forgot that it was her job to water them. My kids love this little family project every year. Let them yank ‘um up, then head to the garden center together to pick out some fresh fall plants. Mix in traditional mums and marigolds with some purple-leafed heuchera and a bright shot of creeping Jenny to take you through the season. Even if the pumpkin patch hasn’t opened yet, your porch will be ready when it does.
So fake it till you make it, and start prepping for fall today. Before you know it, the leaves will be tumbling and you’ll be ordering that Pumpkin Spice Latte extra hot instead of iced.