For most of us, the holiday season is a busy time of year, and with so many activities and traditions that take place during “the most wonderful time of the year,” it’s hard to keep track of what you’ve done and what you’d like to do.
This Christmas, you can make new memories and create new traditions (or revive some old ones) with these 25 activities for your Christmas bucket list.
1. Go to a Tree Lighting Ceremony
Many towns hold a tree lighting ceremony during Christmastime, where citizens gather in (usually) the town square and kick off the holiday season under the dazzling lights of a giant Christmas tree. Music, hot cocoa, and other festive activities usually round out the festivities.
2. See the Nutcracker Ballet
The classic ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky has stood the test of time for a reason: it’s charming, magical, and the music is incredible. Nearly every city in the U.S. puts on a production around the holidays, and if the professional ballet sells out too fast, there is usually an adorable youth ballet company that you can go see instead.
3. Make Hot Cocoa (from Scratch!)
On a cold December night, there’s nothing like sitting by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa. As accessible as packaged mixes are, you haven’t had the full experience until you’ve made hot cocoa from scratch. Not only can you control how sweet or how chocolatey it is, but it’s amazingly simple to make!
4. Give Back to the Community
The holiday season is a great time of giving. There are numerous ways to give back to the community, including food drives, toy drives, soup kitchens, and charitable donations. Use this website to find a cause that speaks to you and make someone’s holiday season a little brighter. You’ll be glad you did.
5. Go Ice Skating
There’s nothing that says wintertime quite like ice skating, and it can really be an enchanting time. Check out your local outdoor ice skating rink (admission is generally pretty reasonable), as many places open seasonally.
6. Buy a Real Christmas Tree
If you’re the type who prefers a nice, fake Christmas tree, then it might be fun to switch it up one year and buy a real tree just for the experience. Sure, pine needles will be everywhere, but your house will smell like Christmas.
7. Make Homemade Ornaments
This is a great activity to do with your kids using whatever craft supplies you have on hand. Or, check out Pinterest for a surplus of different diy ideas. It’s not only a fun, family-oriented holiday activity, but the ornaments you and your kids make will be way more special than the ones you buy from the store.
8. Build a Gingerbread House
Not only is this fun for the kids, but it’s delicious and festive, too. There are plenty of ways to make your gingerbread house from scratch using templates, but if that’s not your speed, then you can pick up a kit from your local grocery or craft store and the experience will be just as memorable.
9. Have a Holiday Movie Marathon
So many great holiday movies, so little time! You may not be able to watch every single one on your list, but why not knock out three or four at a time with a holiday movie marathon? Make some popcorn and hot cocoa and you’ve got yourself a party!
10. Make and/or Wear an Ugly Sweater
Well, why not? Everyone does it, after all! If you’re not too keen on making an ugly sweater, visit your local thrift store and sift through the sweater section. You never know what gems you can find! To add to the fun, you can even have a family photo shoot where you all don your beautiful, festive attire.
11. Write a Letter to a Soldier
Show a soldier who can’t be home for the holidays that their sacrifice is appreciated with this small act of kindness. Visit the Red Cross website to find out how.
12. Go Sledding
Nothing says “winter wonderland” like going sledding during the holidays! Once snow hits the ground, suit up and find your favorite sledding hill! If you live in a region that doesn’t get snow… well, enjoy that beach then. Secretly we’re all jealous.
13. Drive Around and Look at Christmas Lights
When your neighbors spend so much time and money putting up Christmas lights, it only seems fitting that someone admires them, right? The kids will love driving around and seeing all the beautiful light displays and decorations.
14. Roast Chestnuts
It doesn’t have to be over an open fire, but this is a unique and fun way to celebrate the holiday season and bring a beloved song to life. They’re also quite delicious.
15. Go Caroling
Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it. You might be surprised how fun it is to go out with a group and sing Christmas songs–with the exception of any Scrooges, you’re likely to put smiles on your neighbors’ faces.
16. A Random Act of Kindness
Though this isn’t just for the holiday season, you can’t go wrong with a random act of kindness, whether it’s feeding someone’s meter, paying for someone’s coffee, or just giving a compliment. Making someone’s day is priceless.
17. Secret Santa
Everyone’s heard of Secret Santa: you draw names out of a hat and secretly deliver that person gift (or gifts). If you have a big family or a close-knit group of friends, this is a great way to add suspense and drama to any gift exchange.
18. Go to a Local Christmas Festival
Many towns have Christmas or holiday-themed festivals and parades, which can be a real treat for the whole family! Research your city’s holiday activities and make some new memories!
19. Make a Wreath
With just a few supplies from the local craft store, you can create a beautiful and festive wreath that captures the aesthetic of the holiday season.
20. Have a Game Night
Movies are fun, but when was the last time you and your family had a game night? Whether your jam is Candy Land or Monopoly, get that popcorn and hot cocoa going, because it’s time to have some fun!
21. Hit the Slopes
Another fun wintertime activity is to visit your local ski slopes and have some snowy, outdoor adventures. Again, the availability of this may depend on what region you’re from, but if you swap skiing for surfing, we’ll be none the wiser.
22. See A Christmas Carol
There are many Christmas-themed productions that go on during the season, among them, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Check out your local theatre companies for their seasonal repertoire–you may be surprised what’s been adapted for the stage.
23. Bake Cookies
Sure, you can bake cookies any time of year, but the holidays were made for baked goods, and when else can you make gingerbread men or peppermint bark? It’s also a great gift idea for friends and neighbors. Who doesn’t love cookies?
24. Make Paper Snowflakes
This classic winter craft is both an easy and whimsical way to put scissors to paper and make something beautiful. It’s great for kids (provided they can handle scissors) and adults alike!
25. Break Tradition
Traditions are great and all, but why not break some rules once and awhile? Why not open some presents early, have pizza for Christmas dinner, or diy instead of buy? There’s a reason we hold onto traditions, but if you’ve always wanted to try something new, then why not do it? The holidays, above everything else, should be fun. And sometimes, being unconventional is fun.