Gifting ideas

The Ultimate Christmas Activity Bucket List for Families

The holidays only come once a year, yet there’s so much to do. From shopping, wrapping and decorating to spying gorgeous lights and singing Christmas carols, life changes its pace in the month of December. To ensure that you don’t miss a single thing this season, follow this family-friendly holiday bucket list that includes all the seasonal must-dos. Tip: Start early to make sure you fit it all in. Seriously, we won’t judge if you consider the day after Labor Day the official start of the holiday season! You don’t want to miss a single snow-covered thing.

Make, Bake and Create

Is it just us, or are the holidays all about crafting, baking and making? The warm smells wafting from the kitchen—cinnamon, allspice and sugar for days—are enough to make you feel completely and totally giddy with holiday cheer. From designing your Christmas card with custom photos collected throughout the year to creating special little presents for everyone in your life, this is one of the most delightful times of year to flex your creative muscles.

  • Bake a gingerbread family
  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Brew some spiced cider
  • Make homemade eggnog
  • Make cookies from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book
  • Make chocolate-dipped pretzels
  • Bake a honey-glazed ham
  • Bake fresh cinnamon bread
  • Make chocolate peppermint bark
  • Make sweet holiday popcorn
  • Make your own evergreen wreath
  • Make your own poinsettia centerpiece
  • Make a snowman and a snow angel
  • Make homemade candles to give as gifts
  • Cut out paper snowflakes
  • Make DIY snow globes
  • Make your own Christmas ornaments
  • Make a hot chocolate bar at home
  • Take photos for your Christmas cards
  • Order personalized Christmas cards

Decorate, Carol and Donate

Here’s our trifecta of advice for getting into the holiday spirit: decorate, sing and share. It just doesn’t feel like the holidays until you’ve got the tree up and until you’ve done a few things that make your heart feel totally full. We love the idea of spreading cheer by giving back to the community in small ways—donating to a local coat or toy drive, volunteering with a community organization and showing your favorite workers exactly how much you appreciate everything they do for you. 

  • Cut down a live Christmas tree
  • Decorate the Christmas tree
  • Light holiday-scented candles
  • Set up your nativity scene
  • String up the holiday lights
  • Wrap presents and put them under the tree
  • Hide The Elf on the Shelf
  • Sing carols door to door
  • Volunteer at a local homeless shelter
  • Donate presents for children in need
  • Donate coats for children in need
  • Leave a gift and card for the mailman
  • Visit the local senior citizens center

Watch, Listen and Read

We don’t have to tell you why watching, reading and listening to holiday classics is a bucket list must this year! There’s simply nothing—and we mean nothing—that signifies Christmas time quite like classic holiday tunes and films. Everyone has their own list of the best Christmas movies, albums and plays (there are just so many great ones) but here are some of the must-consumes for this holiday season.

  • Watch a live version of The Nutcracker
  • Watch a live version of A Christmas Carol
  • Read (and watch) How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • Read ’Twas the Night Before Christmas
  • Watch the top holiday movies, including:
    • Home Alone
    • It’s a Wonderful Life
    • The Nightmare Before Christmas
    • The Santa Clause
    • Elf
    • The Polar Express
    • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
    • A Christmas Story
    • And basically all the movies from IMDB’s list of top 100 Christmas movies of all time, just to make sure you’re really in the spirit
  • Listen to your favorite Christmas pop albums
  • See the local symphony perform Christmas classics
  • Go to a children’s choir concert

Activities and Extra-Special Events

In most places, local calendars are jam-packed with extra-special events and activities during the holiday season, from civic tree-lighting ceremonies to seasonal markets and parades for the kids. Don’t forget to schedule some time for the children—and the pets—to spend some time visiting with Mr. Claus at the mall. Oh, and make sure to take the long way home from the mall this season to see all the pretty houses lit up with holiday lights.

  • Drive around and look at Christmas lights
  • Pick out personalized gifts for the kids
  • Attend a tree-lighting ceremony
  • Attend a Christmas parade
  • Host a cookie exchange with friends
  • Let the kids take a photo with Santa
  • Let the dog take a photo with Santa
  • Go sled-riding with friends
  • Go snow-tubing with friends
  • Go ice-skating at the local ice rink
  • Go to a local Christmas market
  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Sip warm cider by a bonfire
  • Go holiday shopping at the mall
  • Monitor the Google Santa Tracker
  • Look at old family photos and videos
  • Share your favorite Christmas memories
  • Get the whole family a set of matching pajamas
  • Go on a Christmas scavenger hunt
  • Try a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks (or try to make your own)
  • Try fresh-baked apple cider donuts or fruitcake

Making Your Bucket List Your Own

Every family has its own extra-special Christmas traditions, and no two households treat the holidays the same. Make sure to customize this bucket list to include your own sweet, seasonal rituals and to make up a few of your own as you go. Maybe it’s a recurring gag gift, making one of grandma’s secret recipes or whipping up a unique dish on Christmas Eve. Whatever it is, make sure to add it to this list to keep the traditions going strong from generation to generation!

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