The Ultimate Holiday Season Bucket List

It’s December, meaning most of our calendars are filled with holiday themed activities. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but also the busiest. We hope everyone prioritizes fun this holiday season. We created a holiday season bucket list to help you plan your time and engage in all the activities that make December so much fun. Excuse us, we’re ready to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie.

1. Watch Holiday Movies

Holiday themed movies are the best. There are so many to choose from and they really help us embrace the season. From classics to modern romances, there’s something for everyone. There are also always new movies every year. Plan to snuggle up under a cozy blanket and watch your favorite movies with friends and family. Be on the lookout for our holiday movie and TV show special guide coming soon.

2. Go Ice Skating

There’s no better way to start off the holiday season then to go ice skating. If you live in a chillier climate like us, find an outdoor rink. Our favorite rink is right next to a Christmas tree and the rink is decorated with lights. It’s beautiful at night and very lively. If you live in a warmer climate, try to find an indoor rink to bring on the winter cheer.

3. Visit a Light Show

Light shows are a perfect way to bring on all the holiday excitement. From drive through experiences, to walk through ones, there is something for everyone. As for us, we like to attend both. We’re lucky that our area has so many options to visit light shows. Not only are they beautiful, they make for a perfect date night with someone special. Every year we’re amazed by the bright displays.

4. Bake Treats

Christmas cookies anyone? Christmas cookies make our house smell amazing this time of year. But cookies aren’t the only option–we also enjoy bouche de noel and biscotti. Whatever you love to eat, make it homemade. It always tastes better in our opinion.

5. Volunteer or Donate

This season is also about giving back to your community. Set aside time to volunteer or plan to donate goods. This year we plan on going through our closets to donate to clothing drives. But it’s also important to give to local food pantries and toy drives. If you have the time, look up local organizations that could use your help. Volunteer for your favorite cause and help put a smile on someone’s face.

6. Pick Out a Christmas Tree

We spent time this weekend finding the perfect tree. We love trees that almost hit the ceiling and have full branches to make room for our many ornaments. Bundling up on a chilly night to get the right tree never fails to bring a smile to our faces. Then placing in the living room and seeing how it makes the space look so much better.

7. Do Your Holiday Shopping

We’re making a list, checking it twice. Seriously, make a list. It can be hard to keep track of everything and everyone. Luckily, we’ve done a lot of our holiday shopping so far this year. The reason is we stayed focused and found great sales. We try to focus on getting friends and family members gifts that they really want or need. Remember, nobody wants extra junk around the house. Be mindful, think it through or gift an experience.

8. Read a Seasonal Book

If you’re big readers like we are, then you’re going to start Christmas romances. One book on our TBR is The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox, which released in 2021. Reading holiday-themed content while warm and cozy makes us very happy. Especially when we read next to the Christmas tree, with the lights reflecting off the ceiling and walls.

9. Find the Best Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate comes in many flavors and styles. Find cafes around your area and commit to finding the best cup. One of our favorites was a salted caramel hot chocolate covered in whipped cream.

10. Drive Around to Look at Lights

You don’t have to go to a formal light show to enjoy lights. Look up the best neighborhoods in your area to start this free family-friendly Christmas activity. We have a few go-to places, where most of the houses go all out for the season.

11. Explore a Christmas Market

While the United States doesn’t have the amazing Christmas Markets like Europe, they’re still a few good ones locally. One day we hope to go to Strasbourg, France, which looks incredible. This year we’re staying closer to home to do some local shopping. But we’re still excited to explore the booths and warm up with hot chocolate.

12. Attend a Christmas Tree Lighting

Most cities and towns have at least one tree lighting a year. Get ready for some holiday magic when you see a big tree light up the space. We attended one recently and got to see a beautiful tree covered with multi-colored lights.

13. Write a Letter to Santa

Who says only children can write letters to Santa? We love going to Macy’s and writing a letter in the store. Macy’s has a giant red mailbox with a believe-o-meter. The more people who write letters, the higher the believe-o-meter gets!

14. Spend Quality Time with Friends and Family

Being with loved ones is the center of the holiday season. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do together, find something to make everyone happy. Memories are even more important than gifts.

15. Write Your New Year’s Resolutions

When writing your resolutions, make them realistic. Instead of listing a bunch of tasks that you’ll ignore by February, stick to a few things you really want to accomplish. And mix up the categories. Put a few fun items on the list, like traveling or experiencing something new. Then also add some resolutions to better yourself/enrich your life. Learn a new skill, adopt a new behavior and set a goal.

16. Have a Present Wrapping Party

Wrapapalooza is the day we wrap most of our gifts for people. We all get together, watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Charlie Brown and try to hide the gifts from each other. The room is covered with wrapping paper, bows, tags and ribbon. It’s basically like Santa’s workshop moved to our home. Wrapping presents with others brings all the holiday cheer. And it looks so pretty when it’s finished.

17. See a Play or a Ballet

A great family activity is seeing a show together. We’ve seen the Nutcracker advertised, as well as a live version of Charlie Brown. Both are great options. Other ideas include whatever is playing at your local playhouse. Supporting small businesses while having an enjoyable night.

18. Buy Holiday Clothing

It’s the time for sweaters, coats, scarves, gloves and sparkly everything. Make sure to stock up on winter essentials and outfits for the holiday season. If you want to keep it sustainable, check out some local thrift store.

19. Build a Snowman

Do you want to build a snowman? We do! When it snows, enjoy the day and play in it with friends and family. Build the ultimate snowman, like Lorelai and Rory did in Gilmore Girls.

20. Host Secret Santa or White Elephant 

For large groups, it can be hard to buy a gift for everyone. Turn it into an event by participating in secret Santa or white elephant. Everyone only has to purchase one gift and the host/hostess can set a spending limit.

21. Decorate a Gingerbread House

Or if you’re savvy enough, bake the gingerbread house pieces too. While we do love to bake, we haven’t attempted this yet. We do buy a gingerbread house every year and have a blast decorating and then eating it. This year’s one is from Godiva!

22. Make Your Home Festive

Last week we posted Decorating Your Home for the Holidays! Check out our advice for decorating indoors and outdoors. We love to make our home feel cozy and special this time of year.

21. Eat Latkes and Sufganiyot During Hanukkah 

We’re celebrating Hanukkah as well. One of the best traditions is when we go to a friend’s house to enjoy latke night. Out friend’s family makes the best latkes and it something we look forward to every year. Usually, they also make sufganiyot, which is a type of donut.

22. Light the Menorah 

During the eight nights of Hanukkah, lighting the candles of the menorah is an important tradition. This is something we also get to experience with our friends, who share the story of Hanukkah before lightening the candles.

23. Attend a Holiday Carnival 

Our favorite carnival runs from November to the new year. It has a Ferris Wheel, games, rides and a bonfire. We can spend hours at the carnival and then after, we got out for comfort food. Carnivals are great for people of all ages. It also makes for a great first date because there are plenty of things to do to keep the conversation going.

24. Warm Up by a Bonfire 

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire happens in a song, but we prefer s’mores. Warm fires and chilly nights go well together, especially when it leads to delicious treats.

25. Paint Something Seasonal

Sip and paints are a fun holiday date night idea. Paint something that matches the season, grab a bottle of wine and get ready for a romantic night. Then you get to hang up your creation at home, adding to the holiday decor.

26.Ride in a Horse Drawn Carriage 

A lot of towns and cities have winter horse drawn carriage rides. They usually include a warm blanket too. There is something so romantic about riding in a carriage with your significant other.

27. Take Family Photos

Whether it’s a professional family portrait or fun shenanigans at home, make sure to capture the memories. Especially unwrapping gifts together. You’re going to love all the moments captured and laugh at the family antics.

28. Host a Game Night 

A way to spend time with people is to host a game night. Think holiday themed food and beverages, with a fun game. It can be anything from cards against humanity to something holiday themed. Just as long as you enjoy everyone’s company.

29. Hang Stockings for Everyone

Put up stockings for everyone in the house so Santa can leave some treats behind. It’s a great way to make the mantle look festive, while also enjoying some candy come Christmas morning.

30. Read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

On Christmas Ever every year, we read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by the tree. It’s a special moment and time-honored tradition. We do this right after we get home from dinner and then after each open a gift.

31. Plan a Christmas Dinner

Planning the meal for Christmas Day can be both fun and tedious. Make sure to plan the menu in advance and have everyone help in some way. Two of our favorites are beef bourguignon and lasagna. Enjoy a special meal together and bonus points if you pair it with a cocktail.

32. Watch Holiday Baking Championship and The Great Christmas Light Fight

If you need a relaxing night at home with some fun reality competition shows, we have two great recommendations: Holiday Baking Championship and The Great Christmas Light Fight. Watch as people bake amazing desserts or decorate the outside of their home to perfection.

33. Take a Day Trip

Want to get away for a day? Some fun winter activities include seeing lights in a different town, attending a holiday event or going to a resort. Popular destinations include one for skiing and snowboarding. If you’re not a winter spots aficionado, try a place with a spa. What says winter like saunas and hot tubs.

34. Decorate the Christmas Tree

We already talked about getting a tree, but turn decoration night into a family event. Play holiday music, have everyone put on their favorite ornaments and light a scented candle. Make the night special.

35. Relax and Enjoy the Season

Sit back, relax and try to enjoy yourself. Yes, there’s a lot to do, but prioritize your mental health and wellbeing.

31 thoughts on “The Ultimate Holiday Season Bucket List”

  1. Just looked up the latkes and the sufganiyot – they look amazing, but will definately try making latkes.
    This time round, a day trip is in the schedule.
    Thanks for such an ulitmate holiday season bucket list.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great list of activities to do this season, and I’ve already done a few including watching Christmas movies, baking cookies, going to Christmas markets, and seeing a play (we saw a traditional Danish play). It would be fun to decorate a gingerbread house with my daughter!

    Liked by 1 person

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