November may be just past prime apple- and pumpkin-picking time, but there are still plenty of fun fall activities to do during the final month of autumn. And since it gets dark much earlier in November, there's even more reason to squeeze in a fall activity or two before winter arrives and the holiday rush makes you too busy to do anything else. Note that this year, for everyone's health and safety, it's wisest to follow CDC guidelines and stick to outdoor, socially distant, small-group activities as often as possible. With that in mind, here's how to spend your free time with family and friends in November.
Things to Do at Home in November
1. Clean Out Your Closet
If your wardrobe is bursting with old, clunky coats and sweaters that take up way too much room, it's time to set aside the pieces you no longer wear and donate them to someone who'll give them a second life (here's how to do that). While organizations appreciate clothing donations year-round, there's never more of a need for warm layers (and socks!) than at the end of fall/start of winter.
2. Pickle Some Veggies (or Can Some Fruit)
Fall is the time to pickle vegetables that won't last through the winter. And since November 14 is officially National Pickle Day, there's no better time to try canning or pickling your favorite produce at home. First time canning? Here's everything you need to know about preserving and canning food.
3. Make Mulled Wine
Your favorite bottle of wine just got a cold-weather makeover thanks to this irresistible mulled wine recipe. It's begging to be sipped on once there's a nip in the air—maybe around an outdoor fire pit or heater with friends (six feet apart, of course!). Need inspo? Here's how Ina Garten has been making the most of her space for safe, al fresco gatherings this fall.
4. Start a Journal
Cooped up inside on a rainy November day? Spend 10 or 15 minutes writing down your thoughts, feelings, observations, or goals. Journaling is one of those rare activities that's both productive and relaxing; it's a great way to practice some mindful self-reflection on a chilly day.
Things to Do for the Holidays in November
5. Decorate for Thanksgiving
However you're celebrating Thanksgiving this year, it's important to keep traditions—like decking out your home with gourds and foliage—alive! Spruce up your home for Thanksgiving with festive, autumnal finds. Look for turkey-themed accents, plentiful cornucopias, dried floral garlands, and colorful fall wreaths.
6. Join a Turkey Trot
Is there a Thanksgiving race near you? To keep the tradition going amid the pandemic, many local trot events have gone virtual—letting participants upload their times, photos, and more to a website or app. Band together with your friends or household to join in on this favorite, seasonal run. Some trots are more casual (think: one mile you can definitely walk), but some are closer to half-marathons for more serious runners.
7. Stream the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Whether or not you're in New York City on Thanksgiving, it's always a blast—if not a family tradition—to watch this iconic annual parade featuring fantastic floats, entertainment, and more. And here's the best news ever: The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is not canceled due to the pandemic, and will be viewable virtually. Here's everything you need to know about this year's festivities.
8. Start Holiday Gift Shopping
We know it's early, but November is a great time to start working your way through that hefty holiday gift list. You probably need something special for everyone, from immediate family members to friends and coworkers. The sooner you start, the smoother December will be. Find picks for everyone right here.
9. Make New Year's Eve Plans
If you're planning to go away—or even just make a reservation at a popular spot—over New Year's, start (at least) brainstorming where to go and what to do. Research and advanced planning are particularly important to ensure safe travel and an equally safe stay. Get on the ball and make a few reservations before things get booked and flight and hotel fares rise.
RELATED: 7 Smart Tips for Ringing in the New Year Safely
10. Binge-Watch Thanksgiving-Themed Episodes
Nothing will get you more psyched for November's big holiday than re-watching the best Thanksgiving episodes from your favorite TV shows. A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving, anyone?
11. Watch Holiday Movies
It's never too early to start watching your favorite Christmas and holiday movies. Stream them with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more, or catch whatever's on live TV. Invite over a few friends, make hot chocolate or fall cocktails, and spend a cozy night in with classic, seasonal flicks.
12. Take a Cold-Weather Walk or Hike
Bundle up and enjoy a scenic hike on a local trail. Breathe in the crisp, fall-almost-winter air and enjoy any last remnants of the changing leaves.
What to Do With Friends in November
13. Host a Pie Swap
"It's November" is basically the same thing as saying "it's time for pie" (or is that just us?). Whether you're trying to use up all those apples you picked last month, perfect a particular pie recipe before the holidays, or simply looking for an excuse to eat something sweet with friends, a pie swap is a perfect November get together. To avoid too much mingling indoors, make it a virtual baking event or deliver your pastries to people's doors.
14. Plan a 'Friendsgiving'
Not everyone can make it home for Thanksgiving—or even if they can—gather your closet pals together or a pre-Thanksgiving feast with all the fixings. Ask everyone to make or bring their favorite Thanksgiving dish. By the way, your annual Friendsgiving is totally doable this November (and probably even more necessary than ever). Read up on how to host the most festive, digital holiday dinner party.
15. Have a Cozy Wine and Cheese Night
If the promise of red wine and baked brie doesn't entice you, we don't know what to tell you. Instead of braving the cold, stay in to eat, drink, and hang out to your heart's content.
Why not spend a November weekend day volunteering at (or at least donate non-perishables to) a shelter, pantry, or soup kitchen. You can always help out solo, but it's a great thing to do as a group, as long as all who join are healthy and symptom-free—the more, the merrier.
17. Attend a Beer, Wine, or Cider Festival
Summer sipping isn't the only type of sipping. Do some research online to find a nearby festival showcasing craft brews, wine, or locally made cider. Head to the website of the festival you're interested in to see if they're offering virtual events or following new safety precautions. If the latter, it may effect capacity and limit reservations—good to know going in.
Kid-Friendly Things to Do in November
18. Write Down What You're Thankful For
Together as a family, write down a list of things you're thankful for. Not only will this get you and your kids in the mood Thanksgiving, it'll be a sweet reminder to practice gratitude.
19. Roast Marshmallows
Whether you're warm and toasty by the fireplace inside or bundled up near a firepit in the backyard, your kids will love roasting their own marshmallows and making s'mores as a special November treat.
20. Play a Game of Touch Football
Take advantage of the weather before it really gets too cold to play outside with a game of touch football with your household or friend/family pod. Head to a local park or pick up a game in someone's backyard for the afternoon, then head inside afterward for hot chocolate (and hot toddies for the grownups).
21. DIY Thanksgiving Decor
If the little ones want to lend a hand with fall decor (and you want to save some money on holiday accents), here are a few fun DIY mason jar crafts perfect to do with kids.
22. Go for a Bike Ride
Get out and enjoy the fresh air with your kids before the true chill of winter. Take a ride
23. Bake Cookies
Need we say more? Baking cookies is never a bad idea, especially with the holidays right around the corner. Hone your Christmas cookie game by testing out new recipes, cookie decorating with the kids, or just baking for the fun of it.
24. Find Creative Ways to Thank Frontline Workers
The colder temps and earlier sunset make the end of fall tough on everyone, but no one deserves a pick-me-up more than our healthcare and frontline workers. You and your kids can make signs, write thank-you notes or sweet messages, bake treats, or put together small care packages to lift their spirits and show your appreciation for all they've done and continue to do—even over the holidays.