My Annual Leaf Party: Celebrating the joys of Autumn and the turning of the leaves
Traditions keep us grounded, and focused on what is most important and essential as Life rushes by. I was inspired to start this cheerful tradition with my grandchildren about 15 years ago and have managed to keep it going year after year… It’s very simple, cheap and easy to pull together and I’m sure I love it more than the children do.
Autumn is such an exciting time, as the trees start to display their vibrant gifts of harvest. To me, every leaf is a tiny work of art, a masterpiece to be celebrated, and no one can appreciate that more than children (and their grandmothers)! So ever since my first grandkids were old enough to run around the park, I have been hosting an annual “Leaf Party” to celebrate the turning of the leaves… and OH! the fun we’ve had!
Leaf Party basics:
Who? Any kids or kids-at-heart you can find!
What? Field trip to a local park and back home for crafts and baking.
At the park: We go to a nearby park and collect bags and bags full of glorious autumn leaves, so we can play with them and be inspired by their amazing colors and varieties.
We rake the leaves into huge, crispy, colorful piles to jump in and toss into the air, over and over again:
We take cardboard along to make “sleds” on which to swoop down leaf-covered hillsides, screaming with delight:
Back home: After all that exhilaration, we walk (or skip ;)) back home to continue more leaf-inspired activities.
Cookie-decorating: I make or buy a big batch of sugar cookie dough for our first leaf-art project. It’s chilling in the fridge till we’re ready to roll it out and cut it into leaf shapes (and a few turkeys, too.) Best part is that even the youngest child can have a turn rolling out the dough.
We’ve tried different methods of replicating the colors of autumn in our cookies, and the favorites are: 1) mixing food color into sections of the dough and piecing together blobs of it before we roll it out (just like Pla-Doh!).
2) Another favorite is to make “paint” by mixing different colors of egg yolks with food coloring, which the young bakers then use to color their cookies before baking. When cooked, because of the egg yolk “paint,” these cookies come out with a pretty, shiny gloss.
Dinner-time: Next, it’s time for my little guests to make dinner! For years, I’ve had them make “pigs-in-blankets” with split hot dogs stuffed with grated cheese and wrapped in packaged crescent rolls. Last year we tried mini chicken pies from a recipe on Pinterest. The most important thing is to keep it EASY so everyone can gets their hands on the project ~ and then have the reward of eating what they’ve made.
At last, this wonderful celebration ends as we read a few favorite books, the same ones year after year, till the pages are worn and curled.
I have simplified over the years and we don’t do every single activity every time ~ but the tradition remains, something we all look forward to (I most of all!) and I hope that these happy memories will remain with these precious people for the rest of their lives.