My family had an amazing, very full day at the pumpkin patch yesterday. We have a beautiful pumpkin patch here in Nebraska called Vala’s Pumpkin Patch. It was started by the Vala family, and after 25 years they have grown to employ over 500! They now have parents who came as kids bringing their own kids, and it has become a yearly tradition for many families, including ours! We have been going every year now for at least 8 years, I have picture of my 10 year old climbing over a pile of pumpkins with her diaper hanging out her pants when she was barely able to walk. Every year it gets better, because they add new attractions. We just love going!
This year, we were not sure if we should still go because we are in the middle of a “no spend challenge” (which I really AM going to blog about one of these days!) We decided family traditions are important, and our girls had already been talking about going this year, so after a little research and thinking, we came up with a plan we both felt good about, that would enable us to go at a price we were comfortable with. These are ways to make it more affordable:
-Go on days that have discounts. We went on a Wednesday. At Vala’s, if you go on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, the admission price is $9.00 instead of the usual $12.00. (saved $15.00 for a family of 5)
-Skip the attractions that cost extra. For about $5.00/person, you can ride a train at Vala’s. We decided not to ride it this year, which was not a big deal because there were so many other fun, free things to do. There is also a “Mining for Gems” area which my girls love, but you have to purchase a bag of stones to mine. They were about the same price as the train ride, we skipped that, too. (saved about $25.00 on the train, and about $15.00 on the mining)
-Bring a back pack filled with hearty snacks and candy. This was a huge money saver. There are so many great smelling and great looking foods at a pumpkin patch. Kettle Corn, Funnel Cakes, Roasted Corn and Turkey Legs, Caramel Apples… just to name a few! By making sure our tummys were full with our own snacks, we were able to walk past the snack areas keeping our wallet tucked safely away in the backpack. We snacked on granola bars, apples, chips, and candy. We had fun biting into our Twix candy bar, then quickly biting into an apple to make our own version of a Chocolate Caramel Apple! (you must try this, so good!) The kids did not feel deprived at all, and they loved all the little treats in our backpack. (I’m sure this saved us at least $20.00, if not more)
-Pack a lunch. Every year, as part of our tradition, we “kidnap” our kids from school to take them to the pumpkin patch. (yes, we let them skip school for a day of fun) This year, we did not want to be rushed and wanted to get home at a decent time, so we decided to leave earlier than usual. Our surprise went like this: we all got ready for school and I packed their lunches just like they were going to school. We piled in the car (including Dad b/c for some reason his jeep would not start and he needed a ride to work. Yes, we lied.) with backpacks on and lunch boxes in hand, and a bunch stuff we needed that I snuck to the trunk. We drove a couple blocks to the school and instead of stopping we drove right past the school. My oldest, who is all about getting to school on time and who tends to be a bit dramatic, did not disappoint with her drama in reacting to us driving past the school. “DAD! “We are going to be late!” “DAD!” When I saw her tearing up, I decided it was time to tell them that it was ok to be late because we were GOING TO THE PUMPKIN PATCH!! I love seeing a kids tears turn to laughter so suddenly. Surprises are so fun! Ok, back to the lunches. They ate their packed lunches in the car (a bit early, we had a couple stops before arriving at the pumpkin patch) and we didn’t have to worry about another meal until dinner time. (Saved at least $25.00-$30.00 by not eating at the patch, or about $15.00 by not stopping to get fast food)
-Water bottles!!! This is a must. Drinks add up so fast and with all the walking we did the girls got so thirsty! (not sure how much this would save, but even if we all bought 1 drink @$2.00 each that would be $10.00)
-Dinner. I have admit this is the area we decided to splurge a bit. There are a few ways we could have cut costs here. Usually, we would not purchase kids meals (and would not have if we still had chips left in the backpack) because my girls usually prefer water even if they have the option of soda, and we often share a large french fry or chips as a family because we just don’t need our own bag of fries, we end up wasting them. We were all very hungry by dinner time, (that corn maze burned a lot of calories and we were ready to EAT,!) so we splurged and bought them each a kids meal. Todd got a Chili Dog, and I got a meal and shared my side and drink with him.
(We spent about $30.00, it could have been about $20.00 if we had skipped the full kids meals and my chips and drink)
-No pumpkin, or maybe just one instead of 5! Just because you are at a pumpkin patch does not mean you have to load your car full of pumpkins, or even purchase one. I did look longingly at a beautiful white, perfectly shaped pumpkin among all the orange ones, but tore my eyes away and looked at my beautiful kids instead:) We are blessed to have a grandma who has a super fun tradition picking pumpkins with the girls, then they decoupage them! The pumpkins sit on my front steps looking pretty, and the night before halloween, we carve them. So, as you can see, I have no need to buy any more! (This saved anywhere from $5-$15.00.)
-Just Say No. You are the parent, so say no and mean no. When you get a whine, use it as an opportunity to teach thankfulness. My youngest learned a big lesson in thankfulness sitting on a bench in timeout while her sisters got to walk through the haunted graveyard without her! Boy, was she MAD but she learned an important lesson, and after sitting long enough she was able to get herself under control and enjoy the rest of the day.
It was a very full day. 7 fun-filled hours at the pumpkin patch! (I had a friend ask me on facebook how is it possible to spend 7 hours at a pumpkin patch, I’ll share my response below:))
We left with full hearts, full tummies and camera full of captured, precious memories.
***Status on Facebook “Amy spent 7 HOURS at the pumpkin patch. I’M BEAT!”
Friend Katie’s Comment “Holy cow, how is that possible?” 🙂 (I love the holy cow part)
My Comment Back to Katie *note, I don’t edit my facebook comments so ignore all the typos!
“Well, Katie, first take 3 girls who have to use the restroom every hour and who refuse to go in porta potties and will only go all the way across the patch to get to the real pottys, then get lost in the huge cornfield maze for awhile, then go on the jumpy things 5 times, bury each other in corn kernels for at least 45 minutes, make 1 girl who is being ungrateful sit with you on bench for 15 minutes to teach her to be grateful, stop to tie jackets around the waste every time the sun peaks out from behind a cloud(at least 23 times) watch pig races and pumpkins shooting out cannon type things, walk through 2 haunted houses, a haunted graveyard, storybook land, and mum maze. Feed goats and stare at drooling camel. Play glow golf. Stop to eat snacks, lunch and dinner. Stop to tie shoes about 50 times(note that will not include the times they take them off to go on the bouncy things), walk all the way back to nice pottys to fill up water bottles at the drinking fountains about 4 times, stop to take pictures to capture all the craziness, roast marshmallows and make smores, and on and on and on…:) Maybe this should be a blog post about the ups and downs of yearly family traditions. hmmm..