Autumn in Phoenix: tips for creating a festive fall

Abbey Alexander, Writer

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Tori Tanigawa ’17

Sweating with a pumpkin spice latte in hand: A Phoenix girl’s memoir.

We all know the harsh truth of expectations versus reality. But few things are harsher than fall in Phoenix.

I’ve lived here my whole life, so that means this is my 15th time spending yet another autumn season roasting away. I try not to be too negative about our lack of seasons, but sometimes it gets difficult.

While the rest of the country is cozying up, wearing sweaters and jeans to their football games and planning a warm halloween costume, we’re justifying wearing boots while it’s 95 degrees out by saying the weatherman reported, “a bit of cloud coverage.”

I find myself looking forward to autumn all year. The food, the decorations, the holidays, the weather; it’s all very exciting. Yet, every year fall seems to fly by, and before I know it I look back and realize I never really got to enjoy my favorite season.

Maybe it’s because I’m the kind of person to start playing Christmas music in August, or maybe it’s because by the time we get “real fall weather,” it’s halfway through November and everyone is moving on to the holiday season. Whatever the reason may be, I’m making sure it doesn’t happen to me again. Which is why I’m here, to tell you how I plan on getting in the autumn spirit while it’s still 90 degrees outside.

Step #1: Get In the Mood

Find something that instantly puts you in an autumnal zone. For me, every year I re-watch my favorite show, Gilmore Girls, starting on October 1st. Why does this put me in the fall mood? Not really sure, but it never fails. So whether it’s a TV show, songs that you only listen to in the fall, your favorite Halloween movie or a good book to cozy up with; do whatever it takes. As long as it makes you want to enjoy the season without wanting to jump forward to Christmas, it’ll work.

Step #2: Revamp your environment

As high schoolers, we spend a lot of time in our rooms. Doing homework, relaxing, hanging out with friends, etc; it’s all spent in this little corner of our homes that is entirely ours. So it’s important to make it a cozy, safe haven at all times of the year, but especially in the autumn months. I’m not saying you need to entirely redesign your room every season, but it’s not too difficult to change little things. I suggest heading to the closest Bath and Body Works to pick up a couple of fall-scented candles at one of their 2 for $22 sales. This will instantly add an element of comfort and warmth to your space. Another option is switching out the pictures you may have hanging on your wall or perched on your desk. Instead of a cute photo of all of you and your friends on the beach from this summer, try something a bit more seasonal. Grab a group of friends, your phone and pick up some pumpkins or fake leaves from the grocery store to have a mini-fall photo shoot. Not only will this create great pieces to hang up on your wall, but you may even start a new fall tradition for you and friends. Lastly, pick up an orange blanket from Target to throw over your bed. It’ll keep you comfy during those late night study sessions and add a pop of color to your room. Even when it’s still warm out, don’t be afraid to blast your fan on high and throw on a sweatshirt to get in the fall state of mind.

Step #3: Find Your Favorite Fall Drink

I feel like this one goes without saying. These days, fall is ALL about the perfect drink to cozy up with. We all know and love the famous PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) from Starbucks, but it doesn’t even have to be as festive as that. It can be as simple as switching to an iced vanilla latte to a hot one, or adding a pump of pumpkin syrup in your caramel macchiato (try it, it’s actually really good).

Coffee not your thing? No worries, you don’t need a drink to get you in the spirit. Try picking up (or making your own) pumpkin bread, roasted pumpkin seeds, or any other pumpkin-flavored delicacy. Trader Joe’s features a variety of festive fall flavored food. Recently, the Xpress staff tried out pumpkin spice Hershey’s Kisses, as well as candy corn M&M’s. Let’s just say there were some mixed opinions.

Step #4: Explore Northern Arizona

So often we forget that we have the whole rest of our state to explore. Phoenix may be roasting until late October, but up North in Flagstaff, Sedona, Prescott, etc, the temperatures are quickly dropping. And even better, these places have plenty of fun fall activities. There are tons of hiking trails with beautiful autumnal views, camping sites to enjoy a bonfire and more. In Flagstaff, there’s a Pumpkin Walk, where you can enjoy hayrides, hot cider, apple bobbing and more. You can learn more about this festive event at

You can either go with your family or make it a day trip with some friends to enjoy true fall fun just a couple hours away.

Our days of sweating the fall season away are over, folks. This autumn, we’ll all be taking advantage of all the fun the season has to offer, even if we have to battle the weather.

Happy fall!

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