make a Christmas bucket list with Christmas activities for the whole family
The Holiday Season can be a time of great joy but it can also be a time of great stress. There’s so much to do and it’s easy to get caught up in everything only to realize right before Christmas that you haven’t enjoyed the Christmas season at all. I absolutely refuse to let that happen to me. Theo is almost 5 and Josie and Margo are almost 3. How many more years do we have of them truly believing in the magic of the season?
You guys. It goes by way too fast. After losing my father this year, I am now convinced more than ever that my family needs to prioritize the things that will bring us true joy. If this was my last Christmas with my children, what would I really want the season to entail, and how can we all do that?
Do matching Christmas pajamas really matter? And do sending Christmas cards bring us more joy or stress? Does visiting Santa really make the magic of Christmas happen?
The answer is… it depends on your family. Don’t just go through the motions and do the things you’re supposed to do. It can really just be too much. We can’t do everything and different families have different limits, in terms of time, the mental load of planning everything, and also financially. Here is how we figure out what activities are important to us and what we ditch.
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Make a List of Christmas Activities
That’s right. Make a list. Actually, make four lists: Christmas events and activities, Christmas activities at home, Christmas tasks, and ways to give back during the Christmas season. Write down every family Christmas activity you can possibly think of. You’re going to make a list and then prioritize that list and do the most important things FIRST. Then, if there’s time, get to the rest.
Note: Even write down activities that you’re probably not going to eliminate, such as buying gifts or your family Christmas get together. Seeing everything you have to do can really put into perspective the busyness of the season.
Christmas Events and Activities
There are TONS of events centered around Christmas. Write down every single one of them. Check Facebook for events, as well as local newspapers and websites.
- Polar Express
- The Nutcracker
- Holiday Pops Concerts
- Visiting Santa
- View a Christmas lights show
Christmas Activities at Home
This list could be endless. Here is what’s on my list:
- Decorate cookies
- Drink Hot Chocolate and watch Christmas movies
- Decorate the Christmas Tree
- Light advent candles or get an advent calendar
- Read an advent book <– we have this one and it is absolutely beautiful, but our kids aren’t quite old enough for it yet. This book is by the same auther and looks gorgeous as well.
- Make gingerbread houses
- Make a Christmas craft or homemade gifts for grandparents
- Write letters to Santa
- Make wreaths
These are things that aren’t exactly fun activities, but tasks or errands.
- Purchase matching Christmas Pajamas for children or the entire family
- Plan family Christmas photos and outfits
- Plan and purchase any outfits needed for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day
- Send out Christmas cards
- Plan and purchase Christmas gifts
- Plan any Christmas menus or dishes you need to prepare
- Wrap Christmas gifts
Giving Back at Christmas
We try to have at least one thing off of this list each year. With young children, it’s difficult to do much in ways of giving back other than purchasing gifts for those in need. As our children become older, it is important to us that we do many things to give back at Christmas. It doesn’t seem right that we choose almost everything from the above categories, and hardly anything to give back. Here are some ideas.
- Bake cookies for neighbors
- Sing Christmas Carols at a nursing home or hospital
- Operation Christmas Child boxes
- Participate in a food or toy drive
- Volunteer at a local food pantry or homeless shelter
- Make Christmas cards to send to deployed soldiers (<– this looks like a great resource)
Tips to Create Your Christmas Bucket List
After you’ve made your lists, go through each list and get rid of one thing and choose one as a must do. Obviously, there are some things that are obligations that you can’t get rid of. However, don’t be afraid to ditch something that doesn’t bring value to your life.
Once you have a pretty good list of what you want to do, start penciling them into your calendar. You’ll realize that it fills up pretty fast. We save weekends for the bigger things and do most of the at home things on weeknights. We try to do 1-2 at home activities per week. If you have older children and are out and about doing things, a good idea is to reserve one night a week as your family Christmas activity night.
Christmas Activities Our Family Skips
I want to leave you with some encouragement that we skip things that many families would consider non-negotiable.
For example? My children have never been to visit Santa. Not that there’s anything wrong with visiting Santa at all, but it’s just never made my list of something that brings enough value or joy to our lives during the Christmas season.
I also have skipped sending out Christmas cards many years, and there’s a big chance I will skip it this year. I only get this one year when my girls are two and Theo is four. I’d rather cuddle with them and watch a Christmas movie than send out Christmas cards. That is why it’s so important to do a bucket list to figure out what is most important to YOU and YOUR family.
Our Favorite Family Things to do at Christmas
We always go to the Christmas tree farm the weekend after Thanksgiving. We actually didn’t get a tree last year because all of the good ones were gone even though we went the day after Thanksgiving! We ended up with an artificial tree which isn’t my preference, but I figure we can keep using it until our kids are a bit older and we aren’t in such a chaotic season of life. We still plan to go to the tree farm every year even if we don’t get a tree!
We then decorate the tree, and I give the kids their matching Christmas pajamas so they can wear them during the entire season of Advent. We also unpack our Christmas books if they are still packed away and then we read a different Christmas book every night in front of the Christmas tree.
We also love looking at Christmas lights and go to a local light show. This is the first year that we’re going to the Polar Express and I cannot wait. It’s ridiculously expensive, BUT I know that in 10 years when we look back, we will all remember going much more than we remember what toys the children received as gifts.
If you have any favorite winter or Christmas activities for families that I haven’t mentioned, leave them in the comments so I can update this post and our own bucket list!
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