How to celebrate fall festivities during a pandemic

Photo courtesy of Timothy Eberly, Unsplash

Fall has made its presence known with cooler weather, hints of color in the leaves and stores putting out Christmas merchandise. Well, perhaps we have a little time before Christmas, but fall is certainly a fleeting season and must be cherished before it departs. The COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably made life more difficult to enjoy, but there are still ways to feel some autumn cheer remnant of more normal years.

Fall is best known for its food. Whether you prefer to bake or to buy, pumpkin, apple and cinnamon flavored treats are seasonal staples. On a dreary day, adding a pinch of nutmeg or cardamom to your favorite hot chocolate mix is a surprisingly simple way to spice up your routine.

If you prefer coffee, you are in luck: this year, Starbucks made its famous Pumpkin Spice Latte available on Aug. 25, the earliest release day yet. Campus residents should be sure to flock to Dunkin Donuts and try their pumpkin-flavored swirl that can be added to most of their drinks.

Want to emanate fall vibes everywhere you go without having to carry a Pumpkin Spice Latte? Try wearing this year’s fall fashion trends. Blazers have continued to sweep the scene as a must-have that can be dressed up or down, and new cropped varieties mean looking professional and trendy even on the warmest day of the season. Of course, sweaters and boots will always be integral parts of autumn fashion. If you overheat easily but still want your outfit to embody the season, try clothes in marigold and rust; "Cosmopolitan" has declared them the "it-shades" of late 2020.

Fall, like all parts of life, is defined more by what you do than what you eat or wear. The pandemic has caused most festivals to be cancelled for safety reasons, but there are plenty of low risk activities available. Many pumpkin patches will open with updated protocol to help with social distancing. Secor Farms in Mahwah will keep its patch open to the public from Sept. 14 to Oct. 31. It also will have plenty of scenic decorations available so visitors can snap the perfect festive photos. 

If you wish to avoid any kind of crowd or cost, try taking a hike to enjoy this season’s scenery. Ramapo Reservation is home to many trails and outlooks that offer gorgeous views of the warm shades gradually coloring the mountains. If these sights inspire you, get creative. Tell your friends to gather their art supplies and meet outside for a socially distant painting session. Put on an episode of "The Joy of Painting" for some guidance, or find inspiration in what you can see. At the end, you can exchange your creations and will be left with a piece that both lights up your bedroom and reminds you of a nice memory each time you look at it.

Fall is a time of change, a time of reflection and a time of finding beauty in the world around us. In the age of COVID-19, I think we all need those things. The pandemic has added certain complications, but with a few safety precautions and a little creativity anyone can enjoy the season with the people they care about. Food, fashion and festivities are definitive components of human existence, and not even a pandemic can destroy them.