The holiday season and winter can be so magical and is a great way to spend some extra quality time with family and friends.
In our house, we’re big fans of seasonal bucket lists, and it helps us have a game plan for a season that tends to get really busy really quickly.
Having a seasonal bucket list lets us prioritize and spend time together on worthwhile activities that make lasting memories!
In today’s world, there are a TON of different traditions you can implement in your home, and if you’re not careful, you can fall into the comparison trap of, “Am I doing enough?”
If you can relate, I want you to know that you can do what brings the most joy to YOU and your family!
You don’t have to compare your fun to anyone else's. That’s not what the holiday season is about.
For example, in our house, we don’t use a candy-filled advent calendar to countdown to the holidays.
I know this is common for a lot of people, but giving my kids EVEN MORE sugar than they’re already going to consume during the holidays is not my version of fun as a mom… so we don’t do it.
We also don’t follow the traditional Elf on the Shelf tradition – we have our version instead!
What we DO is create experiences for us as a family to come together, give to others, and have fun in a way that aligns with our family values.
Rethinking Your Winter Bucket List
Several years ago, our family decided to create pockets of time during the week and on weekends with low-key activities that can be pulled out at any time.
We firmly believe that family time and memories are worth so much more than gifts, and statistically, giving experiences may help reduce your stress levels and contribute to family bonding.
Once we have compiled a list of all the possible things we want to do that season, we place little pieces of paper with our activities in a bag or box. Or use these sweet little wooden tokens to bring some holiday cheer!
We used our cute wooden tokens to bring fun to our daily routine. They not only add a dash of excitement to the season, but they also make it stress-free. Whether you let the kids pick a token at random or plan ahead, the possibilities are endless! The best part? You can customize it to suit your preferences.
The KEY for us is that we don't plan one activity per day, even though this is the norm.
Because here’s the thing: as a mom, you know that sometimes life has other plans for us.
Why be held hostage to something that should be FUN and create harmonious memories?!
Instead, I’ve found that this system has worked extremely well and helped our boys (especially our oldest) understand that holidays are for experiencing, giving to others, and creating memories!
So often families have to leave activities and experiences to the weekend. Rightfully so, as many of us work during the week. But then the weekend comes, and you’re forced to cram everything into a short amount of time. THEN, you’re left feeling depleted when you should feel rested.
To help avoid that scenario, we suggest planning significant experiences (such as searching for Christmas lights, holiday movies at the drive-in, and snow tubing) for the weekend! Family movie night at home can take place during the week if you have a lighter day [ or perhaps your child has an early release day from school]. Having separate activities allows us more time to accomplish these more extensive and time-consuming activities.
We also only pull one activity per weekend! It helps us to keep our promise that whatever is picked we will take the task head on!
The biggest tip I can give someone who wants to do a bucket list or advent calendar of activities, but works during the week or has many to-do’s is to keep your list SIMPLE.
Choose experiences that are easy to create!
For example, if baking is on your list, buy ready-made pie crust or sugar cookies, and as a family, roll out the dough, cut it into seasonal or fun shapes, or plop on a cookie sheet and bake! How fun is it to decorate cookies with extra frosting and yummy candies?!
The kids will LOVE it.
*We use Thrive Market to buy our snacks because it's approximately 20% cheaper than Whole Foods. It's the most affordable option for purchasing our "healthier" food items. If interested, I have a link to save you 25% on your first order. I highly recommend giving it a try!
Remember: there’s no rule that says you have to make dough from scratch or spend hours creating the perfect experiences – your kids only care about one thing… your TIME.
I can almost guarantee your children will not remember that you didn't make the cookies from scratch, but they WILL remember making and decorating cookies with you!
How To Lessen Your Workload During The Holiday Season
Even if you do your best to keep things simple, it’s still no secret that even the tiniest things can lead to more work on your part as a parent.
And during a season that’s already busy enough, this can be overwhelming.
To help lessen your workload during the holiday season but STILL create joy in your home through additional activities, I suggest planning ahead and doing all of your extra supply shopping at once.
A few weeks ago, after I gathered a general idea of what our Winter Bucket List would like this year, I shopped for ALL the craft and baking supplies we will need for activities.
I also put each activity or materials needed in separate bags (or basket) – this makes it super easy for us to grab an activity and get to having FUN!
Every Winter Bucket List supply list will look different, but I typically find myself grabbing or preparing things like:
•stash extra gloves, hats, and hand warmers in the car [clink the photo above for links to our favorites]
•grab stickers, glue sticks, and markers/crayons for craft time
•get cheap notecards and envelopes (don't forget the stamps!)
•stock up on disposable hot cups (with lids, for on-the-go sipping)
•pop some popcorn (stove top or microwave pouches, your call)
•set up your streaming services with your favorite winter/holiday movies, so you can quickly pick a flick and avoid arguments
•round up your holiday/winter books and display them in a cozy basket
•tuck a few $5 coffee gift cards in your wallet to brighten someone's day when you spot a beautifully
decorated home or kind deeds.
20 Family Friendly Winter Bucket List Ideas
If you need some fresh ideas for your Winter Bucket List this year, I suggest:
Search for holiday lights in your community. If you love a particular home, leave the owners a note and let them know.
Drink Hot Cocoa with extra marshmallows.
Make Paper Snowflakes
Go Sledding or snow tubing - if the weather permits and you have time!
Read a New Book (Even little ones that can’t read yet can do this by having a parent read to them.)
Do Something Nice for a Family Member
Make Homemade Soup
Have a Snowball Fight
Get into your pjs+ have breakfast for dinner (think pancakes and lots of maple syrup!)
Watch a Movie in a Fort
Make Homemade Pizza
Send notes to friends and family
Listen to holiday music
Make Cookies [or decorate store-bought cookies]
Donate winter gear to a local homeless shelter
Make a winter craft
Donate books and pajamas to a local organization
Catch Snowflakes on your tongue.
Go on a nature walk
Be Kind. Laugh more. Have fun together.
It’s so easy to get caught up doing the same routine day-in and day-out, but a seasonal bucket list can give the family things to look forward to and ways to spice up our day-to-day lives.
Remember, your winter and holiday bucket list activities don’t have to be elaborate or expensive.
Most importantly, enjoy your family and practice slowing down to make memories this winter and throughout the holiday season.