Christmas Bucket List Ideas
Learn how to make the ultimate 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. We call it the Christmas bucket list!
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Christmas Bucket List: Make a List of Activities
That’s right. Make a list.
Actually, make FIVE lists: 1: Christmas events and activities, 2: Christmas activities at home, 3: Christmas tasks, and 4: 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 not going to eliminate, such as buying gifts or your family Christmas get together. Writing down everything will give you a true idea of everything that the holiday season will entail for you.
Seeing everything you have to do can really put into perspective the busyness of the season.
Read –> How to Keep the Christmas Spirit Alive for Your Older Children
Christmas Bucket List 1: Fun Christmas Activities
There are TONS of fun holiday events centered around Christmas. Write down every single one of them as a possibility for your holiday bucket list. Check Facebook for events, as well as local newspapers and websites.
You’re making a broad list and narrowing it down, so go ahead and add everything you find to start out with!
Here are some examples of what’s on my list:
- Polar Express
- The Nutcracker
- Holiday Pops Concerts
- Visiting Santa
- View a Christmas lights show
- Visit some Christmas Tree Farms to get your own Christmas Tree
- Host or attend an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
- Host or attend a secret Santa party
Christmas Bucket List 2: Christmas Activities at Home
One of our favorite Christmas traditions is to go for a walk on the beach, either on Christmas Eve day, or the day after Christmas. It’s always freezing cold but so beautiful.
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 author and looks gorgeous as well.
- Make gingerbread houses
- Make a Christmas craft or homemade gifts for grandparents
- Write letters to Santa
- Make wreaths
- Christmas themed family game night
- Make Salt Dough ornaments as DIY Christmas gifts for grandparents
We have always had one of these felt Christmas trees when our kiddos were toddlers or preschoolers. It is such a fun way for younger children to feel like they have their own Christmas traditions!
Read –> The Best Christmas Books for Children
Christmas Bucket List 3: Christmas Tasks
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
Christmas Bucket List 4: 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 (and throughout the entire year, honestly, but especially 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 own Christmas lists, go through each list and choose one item to cross off as not a priority.
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.
After you’ve crossed off one item as not a priority, put a star next to one item that is a priority.
Then repeat this process until every item of your bucket list ideas either is crossed off or has a star next to it.
Once you have a pretty good list of what you want to do for fun holiday activities, start penciling them into your calendar. Even the simple things, like make Christmas cookies… put that on 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.
Read –> The Best Christmas Photo Ideas with Baby
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.
If we happen to be out and about and see Santa, sure, we’ll stop and say hi. We have also done breakfasts with Santa and met Santa on the Polar Express… but we don’t wait in line at the. mall to take pictures with Santa.
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 one Christmas when Josie and Margo 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 Family’s Favorite Christmas Bucket List Activities
We always go to the Christmas tree farm the weekended 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 bucket list 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!
Enjoy the wonder of the holiday season and then start the new year with peace and joy!
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