Creating a December Bucket List

Tradition Shared by Crystal Paine of

Have you ever gotten to the end of December and looked back and realized it all went by in such a blur that you spent very little time doing the activities and projects you had hoped to do? That’s been me many years. I’ll have great ambitions, but I never make a plan, so nothing happens. And before I know it, Christmas is over.

Growing up, Christmas was my favorite time of the year. It wasn’t the presents or food as much as it was the special activities–making cookies and taking them to the neighbors, making homemade gifts, opening the advent calendar each night, reading Christmas books together, listening to Christmas music, making Christmas cookies, and so many other things.

I want my children to look back on the Christmas season and have some of the same fond memories. But just wanting that to happen isn’t enough; I have to intentionally plan ahead to make those memories happen.

With this in mind, for the past two years, we’ve created a Christmas Bucket List for December and it’s been fantastic. Near the end of November, we take some time as a family to think what activities we really wanted to do this year for Christmas. Each family member gets to choose 3-4 activities and we typed them up into a Master List.

Here are some ideas of things that have been on our December Bucket List:

1. Make homemade hot cocoa with giant marshmallows and use a candy cane as a stir stick.

2. Eat dinner by candle light.
3. Get bundled up and take a walk in our neighborhood to look at Christmas lights.
4. Read Christmas books while snuggled up under blankets.
5. Go ice-skating at the local ice-skating rink.
6. Bake Christmas cookies and decorate them with friends while listening to Christmas music.
7. Watch a holiday movie with just the lights of the Christmas tree on.
8. Buy and decorate a little artificial Christmas tree for the girls’ room.
9. Go Christmas caroling to shut-ins.
10. Make homemade Christmas gifts for the children to give to grandparents and friends.
11. Celebrate Advent with a Jesse Tree.
12. Go shopping for Christmas gifts individually with each child.
13. Get our PJs on and drive around at night to look at Christmas lights.
14. Attend a performance of The Nutcracker.
15. Make a snowman as a family.
16. Pool our money to buy some items from the Samaritan’s Purse catalog for those living in poverty.


Once we have the list made, my husband and I sit down with our calendar and roughly plan when we are going to do each activity. The plan is not set in stone, but it’s there to make sure that we hit all of the Bucket List items. However, if a spontaneous ideas strikes halfway through the month or if it just seems the perfect day or night to do one of the things on the list even if it’s not on the calendar, we just go with it!

We spread the activities out over the course of December so we can enjoy them more. We don’t always get to every single activity, but having it all planned out ahead of time definitely guarantees that we do a number of fun, meaningful, and memorable family activities for Christmas than we did when we didn’t have a plan.


Crystal Paine is a wife, mom of three, and bestselling author of Celebrating & Savoring a Simple Christmas. Visit her blog,, for high-value coupons, online bargains, freebies, and practical ideas and inspiration to get your life and finances in order.


One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *