The holidays always seem to arrive way too quickly, and usually by the time I even think about decorating with boughs of holly it has turned into ‘oh crap’ I forgot to buy Aunt Mary her annual set of dish towels and then also frantically calling the local bakery for my contribution to the cookie exchange. Ugh!
How about this year all of us overworked, frazzled procrastinators have a fun plan to keep us on track? A Christmas Bucket List filled with fun things to do can be that plan.
Start this holiday bucket list in early December and it will not only keep you on a better schedule for the season, but the activities will also get you in the spirit of Christmas.
1. ✧ Mail a Letter to Santa
Get some fancy paper and sparkly pens to write a letter to Santa. His mailing address is hard to forget: Santa, North Pole. If you actually want a response from Saint Nicholas, here’s some instructions from USPS on how to properly write and receive a letter from Santa.
2. ✦ Attend a Tree Lighting Ceremony
Many cities or landmarks will have a ceremony honoring the lighting of their tree. It’s a night where crowds of people load up on hot cocoa, dress in their warmest attire and gather around the tree waiting for the flip of the switch.
3. ✧ Get Your Picture with Santa
Whether you have a child or are a child at heart (like me!), go to the local mall and get a cute snap of you with good ole Saint Nic. If you don’t want the typical holiday photo, check out these funny ideas: 20 Adults Making Things Weird with Santa.
4. ✧ Go to a Local Christmas Festival
Whether is be a festival of trees, parade of lights or a welcoming of Santa coming to town, attend a local festival in your city. My town has a wonderful silent auction event where local business owners decorate and donate a tree for a good cause. Then the city people can come and drink hot cider while perusing the dozens of trees (and hopefully outbidding each other!).
5. ✦ Make a Homemade Gift
There is always something special about giving and receiving a homemade gift (it’s a fun thing to do in any season!). It could be a glass frame with pressed wild flowers or pretty smelling soap or infused vodka—the possibilities are endless! I’m really loving these flavored salts with these cute glass jars.
Stuck for ideas? Here are dozens of cool DIY things to do for gifts:
6. ✧ Connect With an Out of Town Friend
The holiday season is the perfect time catch up with an old friend that you haven’t connected with in a while.
7. ✦ Make an Ornament
Put your creative activity hat for this Christmas bucket list idea and make your own holiday ornaments for your tree or someone elses. Most craft stores carry clear bulbs (or you can buy them here) that can be filled with an array of festive things or get even more crafty with these 30 DIY Christmas ornaments. If you are not so crafty, StayGlam has got you covered with their easy DIY ornaments.
8. ✦ Sip on Hot Chocolate by the Fire
There’s nothing quite like sipping some hot cocoa while watching a fire blazing. It’s the perfect way to write your Christmas list! You can make yourself a simple Old-Fashioned Hot Chocolate or spruce it up by whipping up a Red Velvet Hot Chocolate. You can keep your cocoa warm all day in Yeti’s insulated mug (they make great gifts too!).
9. ✦ Create Handmade Christmas Cards
With a collection of papers, ribbons, glue and some decorative pieces you can create some pretty festive Christmas cards that will WOW your family and friends. Country Living has some super cute DIY card ideas (the mini wreath cards are my favorite!).
10. ✧ Make a Christmas Tune Playlist
Christmas music has come a long way over the years—it seems like every major artist has a song or album. Use spotify to create your perfect playlist!
Having a hard time thinking of songs? Esquire has made it easy with the 30 Best Christmas Songs of All Time.
11. ✦ Donate a Toy
Christmas is all about giving, and giving a gift to a child in need is one of the most rewarding things to do this holiday—a heartwarming addition to your Christmas bucket list! Each year I typically collect toys at my restaurant to donate to Toys for Tots, but there are many other places in need too. Try your local homeless shelter, children’s hospital or fire department. Plus, many shops and businesses will have Christmas Angel trees, where the ornaments hung are wishes from children in need.
Don’t know what the hot toys are this season? Here’s Amazon’s list of the Top 100 Toys.
12. ✦ Chop Down Your Own Christmas Tree
13. ✦ Watch a Holiday Movie Favorite
Slip into your comfiest pjs (you know, that fuzzy onesie with the feet), make some popcorn and watch a holiday movie that will get you into the spirit. You can even go one step further and make it a movie marathon. Some of my favorites are:
- It’s a Wonderful Life
- A Christmas Story
- Miracle on 34th Street
14. ✦ Make a Wreath for Your Front Door
15. ✧ Hide or Find the Elf on a Shelf
At the beginning of the holiday season, this cute elf is placed all around the home acting as Santa’s eyes and ears, making sure all the children are behaving. Each night after the children have gone to bed he goes back to the North Pole to report to Santa. He returns to the home in the morning, but always to a different location. If you have children (or even want to play along with your housemate), it’s fun to hide and find him. It’s one of those activities for all ages!
Make sure to get yours well in advance! You can order Elf on a Shelf here.
16. ✦ See the Nutcracker Ballet
Whether it’s just on a small local stage or a big city production, a quintessential thing to do during the holidays is to escape into a dreamland with the exquisite ballet performance of the Nutcracker. This classic Christmas story is centered around a young girl’s Christmas Eve celebration and is a must thing to do at least once in your lifetime!
17. ✧ Read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
It’s the classic poem that should have a place in every Christmas lovers home. You can get your own copy here.
18. ✦ Build a Snowman or Make a Snowman Angel
Escape to a winter wonderland to make a snow angel or build a good old fashioned Frosty. Have fun plopping yourself right into the snow, waving your arms and legs to create the perfect angel or stacking big balls on top of each other for a jolly snowman (don’t forget the carrot nose, hat and stick arms!). Bucket list bonus if you do both!
For help read The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Snowman and just for fun here’s 31 Epic Snowman Designs. For a super easy option just buy a kit.
19. ✧ Make a Popcorn Garland for the Tree
20. ✧ Roast Chestnuts on an Open Fire
One of my favorite things to do while in Zurich in the winter was hitting up the roasted chestnut stands scattered along the streets. It made me want to start the tradition of making them at home for the holidays. So why not buy yourself a chestnut roaster and follow this How To Roast Chestnuts on an Open Fire article.
21. ✦ Spend an Evening Wrapping Presents
Wrapping presents is one of my favorite holiday activities! I save all the gifts until just a few days before Xmas then spend the night listening to holiday music and covering them all in pretty paper. Here are 39 Gift Wrapping Ideas to get your creative juices flowing—my favorite is the Reindeer Thumbprint Paper!
22. ✧ Build a Gingerbread House
There nothing that says Christmas quite like the house filled with the smell of gingerbread and a table ready for home construction. Try this recipe or for something way easier, just buy a gingerbread house kit.
Read more: 60 or the Best Gingerbread House Ideas
23. ✦ Hang Stockings
24. ✧ Volunteer
During the holiday season there are always people in need of some extra Christmas cheer. Spread some joy by helping in some way. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen or bring joy to a children’s hospital. Pick a cause close to your heart and spend the day giving. Find opportunities near you on the United Way or Volunteer Match website.
25. ✦ Make Paper Snowflakes
Making paper snowflakes is one of those activities for the whole family. You can make some to hang on the tree, decorate presents with others and even stick a few on the windows of your home for the neighbors to see. If you’ve never made one before, here’s an easy Snowflake How-to.
26. ✦ Go Ice Skating
During the Christmas season, outdoor ice skating rinks start popping up—even in places that have no snow! Put on a pair of blades and glide around the rink. Follow it up with a cup of hot cocoa.
27. ✦ Attend Midnight Christmas Eve Service at Church
28. ✧ Go Christmas Caroling
Get a group of friends together, practice some Christmas carols (Rudolph the red now reindeer is one of my favorites!) and then walk around the neighborhood spreading the spirit through song.
Don’t know what to sing? Here at some top Christmas carols with the lyrics.
29. ✦ Get Dressed Up and Attend a Holiday Party
30. ✧ Donate Your Unused Mittens and Jackets
Baby it’s cold outside! And there are some unfortunate people who need a warm jacket or a pair of cozy gloves to get them through the frigid winter season. Take up a collection from friends, family and neighbors and then bring them to the local homeless shelter.
31. ✦ Do a Random Act of Kindness
Random acts of kindness are some of the most fulfilling and most humane and human things you could ever do. Especially when it is done for a complete stranger.
- Donate some food
- Pay the bridge toll for the person behind you
- Go to an animal orphanage and help out for the day
- Feed someone’s parking meter.
The possibilities are endless. The best way to approach this is to look at your local community and see what it is they need the most. Or check out my post for ideas: 75 Random Acts of Kindness Ideas: Examples of Kind Things to Do.
32. ✦ Spend the Day Baking Christmas Cookies
Who doesn’t like a home filled with the smells of fresh-baked cookies? It doesn’t matter whether it’s snickerdoodles, crinkles or simple sugar cookies, spend an entire day just baking. Afterwards, you can even organize a cookie exchange with friends and family.
For some delicious cookie ideas see the 36 of the Best Christmas Cookie Recipes. Don’t forget the cookie sheets! The Rachael Ray Yum-o! Nonstick Pans are amazing, or at least get yourself some silicone baking mats that make the process so much easier!
33. ✧ Organize a Secret Santa Gift Exchange
Looking for an easy and fun way to exchange gifts with family, friends and coworkers? The a Secret Santa Gift Exchange is the answer. One of my favorite secret Santa gifts are these “If you can read this, bring me some wine” socks (they also have ones for chocolate and coffee!). You can you can buy them here.
34. ✧ Make an Advent Calendar
An advent calendar is used to count the days until Christmas. The typical ones are filled with chocolate and hanging out at the grocery store checkout line (like this one). But, with a little creativity you can create your own using matchboxes, clothespins or just about anything else you can possibly think of!
Need Ideas? See Buzzfeed’s 33 Clever And Adorable DIY Advent Calendars and Apartment Therapy’s 35 DIY Advent Calendars to Make Now So You’re Ready for December
35. ✦ Drink Eggnog
Drinking eggnog is quite a tradition during the holiday season, so why not partake for your Christmas bucket list? Typically the drink is made with sugar, milk, cream, whipped eggs, spices and a touch of alcohol (though the ones you buy at the grocery store might be sans the liquor—insert sad face).
36. ✧ Make and Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater
You may not be considered a diehard Xmas fan until you have sported an ugly Christmas sweater! There are plenty of places online to buy one, but it’d be so much more fun to make your own personalized sweater. Need help? These 51 Ugly Sweater Ideas will definitely be inspiration.
37. ✦ Have a Snowball Fight
With so much fresh snow outside can you restrict yourself to the indoors. Get outside for a good old fashioned snowball fight! Invite some friends, make teams and let’s see who wins the war of snow.
Don’t get out there unarmed, learn How to Make the Perfect Snowball first!
38. ✦ Make Your Christmas List
39. ✦ Start a New Tradition
With so much joy, Christmas is the perfect time to start a new tradition that will live on in years to come. It can be anything from a special dish you cook every holiday season to volunteering at the local shelter to Christmas caroling. Anything goes! Every year I decorate and donate a tiny tree—it immediately gets me in the holiday spirit.
40. ✦ Eat a Candy Cane
41. ✦ Kiss Someone Under the Mistletoe
42. ✦ Take a Family Christmas Photo
43. ✦ Look at the Holiday Lights in your Neighborhood
Fill your thermos with hot chocolate, load up the car with your family and give your eyes a special holiday treat by driving through the neighborhoods in search of the best light display. Check with your city, many of them make holiday light maps for you to follow.
44. ✦ Wear a Santa Hat in Public
45. ✦ Leave Cookies for Santa Claus
Last, but not least for your Christmas bucket list, on December 24th leave cookies for Santa Claus…even if you don’t believe in him anymore. You can eat them in the morning!
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