Christmas Bucket List: 45 Things to Do This Holiday to Get You in the Spirit

The holidays always seem to arrive way too quickly, and usually by the time I even think about decorating with boughs of holly it has turned into ‘oh crap’ I forgot to buy Aunt Mary her annual set of dish towels and then also frantically calling the local bakery for my contribution to the cookie exchange. Ugh!

How about this year all of us overworked, frazzled procrastinators have a fun plan to keep us on track? A Christmas Bucket List filled with fun things to do can be that plan.

Start this holiday bucket list in early December and it will not only keep you on a better schedule for the season, but also get you in the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas Bucket List: Fun Holiday Things to Do

1. ✧ Get a Picture with Santa

Whether you have a child or are a child at heart (like me!), go to the local mall and get a cute snap of you with good ole Saint Nic. For funny ideas check out Dorkly’s 20 Adults Making Things Weird with Santa.

2. ✦ Attend a Tree Lighting Ceremony

Christmas Bucket List: Take a Picture with Saint Nicholas

3. ✧ Mail a Letter to Santa

Get some fancy paper and sparkly pens to write a letter to Santa. His mailing address is hard to forget: Santa, North Pole. If you actually want a response from Saint Nicholas, here’s some instructions from USPS on how to properly write and receive a letter from Santa.

4. ✧ Go to a Local Christmas Festival

5. ✦ Make a Homemade Gift

There is always something special about giving and receiving a homemade gift (it’s a fun thing to do in any season!). It could be a glass frame with pressed wild flowers or pretty smelling soap or infused vodka—the possibilities are endless! I’m really loving these flavored salts with these cute Weck Jars.

Check out these cool DIY ideas:

Christmas Things to Do: Make a Homemade Gift

6. ✧ Connect With an Out of Town Friend

7. ✦ Make an Ornament

Put your creative hat for this Christmas bucket list idea and make your own holiday ornaments for your own tree or someone elses. Most craft stores carry clear bulbs that can be filled with an array of festive things or get even more crafty with these 29 DIY Christmas ornaments.

8. ✦ Sip on Hot Chocolate by the Fire

9. ✦ Create Handmade Christmas Cards

With a collection of papers, ribbons, glue and some decorative pieces you can create some pretty festive Christmas cards that will WOW your family and friends. Country Living has some super cute DIY card ideas (the mini wreath cards are my favorite!).

10. ✧ Make a Christmas Tune Playlist

11. ✦ Donate a Toy

Christmas is all about giving, and giving a gift to a child in need is one of the most rewarding things to do—a heartwarming addition to your Christmas bucket list! Each year I typically collect toys at my restaurant to donate to Toys for Tots, but there are many other places in need too. Try your local homeless shelter, children’s hospital or fire department. Plus, many shops and business will have Christmas Angel trees, where the ornaments hung are wishes from children in need.

12. ✦ Chop Down Your Own Christmas Tree

Christmas Things to do: Annette White Catching snowflakes in Bigfork Western Montana

13. ✦ Watch a Holiday Movie Favorite

Slip into your comfiest pjs (you know, that fuzzy onesie with the feet), make some popcorn and watch a holiday movie that will get you into the spirit. You can even go one step further and make it a movie marathon. Some of my favorites are:

  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Elf
  • A Christmas Story
  • Miracle on 34th Street

14. ✦ Attend a Tree Lighting Ceremony

15. ✧ Hide or Find the Elf on a Shelf

At the beginning of the holiday season, this cute elf is placed all around the home acting as Santa’s eyes and ears, making sure all the children are behaving. Each night after the children have gone to bed he goes back to the North Pole to report to Santa. He returns to the home in the morning, but always to a different location. If you have children (or even want to play along with your housemate), it’s fun to hide and find him.

You can order Elf on a Shelf here.

16. ✦ See the Nutcracker Ballet

Whether it’s just on a small local stage or a big city production, a quintessential thing to do during the holidays is to escape into a dreamland with the exquisite ballet performance of the Nutcracker. This classic Christmas story is centered around a young girl’s Christmas Eve celebration and is a must at least once in your lifetime!

17. ✧ Read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

18. ✦ Build a Snowman or Make a Snowman Angel

Escape to a winter wonderland to make a snow angel or build a good old fashioned Frosty. Have fun plopping yourself right into the snow, waving your arms and legs to create the perfect angel or stacking big balls on top of each other for a jolly snowman (don’t forget carrot nose, hat and stick arms!). Bucket list bonus if you do both!

For help read The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Snowman and just for fun here’s 31 Epic Snowman Designs.

19. ✧ Make Popcorn Garland for the Tree

20. ✧ Roast Chestnuts on an Open Fire

One of my favorite things to do while in Zurich in the winter was hitting up the roasted chestnut stands scattered along the streets. It made me want to start the tradition of making them at home for the holidays. So why not buy yourself a chestnut roaster and follow this How To Roast Chestnuts on an Open Fire article.

21. ✦ Spend an Evening Wrapping Presents

Holiday Bucket List: Spend the Night Wrapping Christmas Presents

22. ✧ Build a Gingerbread House

There nothing that says Christmas quite like the house filled with the smell of gingerbread and a table ready for home construction. Try this recipe or for something way easier, just buy a gingerbread house kit.

READ MORE: 31 Amazing Gingerbread House Ideas

23. ✦ Hang Stockings

24. ✧ Volunteer

During the holiday season there are always people in need of some extra Christmas cheer. Spread some joy by helping in some way. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen or bring joy to a children’s hospital. Pick a cause close to your heart and spend the day giving. Find opportunities near you on the United Way or Volunteer Match website.

25. ✦ Make Paper Snowflakes

26. ✦ Go Ice Skating

During the Christmas season, outdoor ice skating rinks start popping up—even in places that have no snow! Put on a pair of blades and glide around the rink. Follow it up with a cup of hot cocoa.

27. ✦ Attend Christmas Eve Service at Church

28. ✧ Go Christmas Caroling

Get a group of friends together, practice some Christmas carols (Rudolph the red now reindeer is one of my favorites!) and then walk around the neighborhood spreading the spirit through song. Don’t know what to sing? Here at some top Christmas carols with the lyrics.

29. ✦ Get Dressed Up and Attend a Holiday Party

Holiday Bucket List: Go to a killer Party - Peter & Annette White at a Party

30. ✧ Donate Your Unused Mittens and Jackets

Baby it’s cold outside! And there are some unfortunate people who need a warm jacket or a pair of cozy gloves to get them through the frigid winter season. Take up a collection from friends, family and neighbors and then bring them to the local homeless shelter.

31. ✦ Do a Random Act of Kindness

32. ✦ Spend the Day Baking Christmas Cookies

Who doesn’t like a home filled with the smells of fresh-baked cookies? It doesn’t matter whether it’s snickerdoodles, crinkles or simple sugar cookies, spend an entire day just baking. Afterwards, you can organize a Christmas bucket list cookie exchange with friends and family.

FOR IDEAS: 36 of the Best Christmas Cookie Recipes

WHAT YOU’LL NEED: Oven Lovin’ Cookie Pans ($13.59,

Christmas Bucket List: Bake cookies all day

33. ✧ Organize a Secret Santa Gift Exchange

34. ✧ Make an Advent Calendar

An advent calendar is used to count the days until Christmas. The typical ones are filled with chocolate and hanging out at the grocery store checkout line (like this one). But, with a little creativity you can create your own using matchboxes, clothespins or just about anything else you can possibly think of!

Need Ideas? See Buzzfeed’s 33 Clever And Adorable DIY Advent Calendars and Apartment Therapy’s 35 DIY Advent Calendars to Make Now So You’re Ready for December

35. ✦ Drink Eggnog

Drinking eggnog is quite a tradition during the holiday season, so why not partake for your Christmas bucket list? Typically the drink is made with sugar, milk, cream, whipped eggs, spices and a touch of alcohol (though the ones you buy at the grocery store might be sans the liquor—insert sad face).

If you want to make your own, try this recipe by Alton Brown. Not a huge eggnog fan? How about just adding a little eggnog flavor to your coffee with this eggnog Torani syrup.

36. ✧ Make and Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater

37. ✦ Have a Snowball Fight

With so much fresh snow outside can you restrict yourself to the indoors. Get outside for a good old fashioned snowball fight! Invite some friends, make teams and let’s see who wins the war of snow.

Need some help? How to Make the Perfect Snowball

38. ✦ Make Your Christmas List

Annette White decorating a donation Christmas tree

39. ✦ Start a New Tradition

With so much joy, Christmas is the perfect time to start a new tradition that will live on in years to come. It can be anything from a special dish you cook every holiday season to volunteering at the local shelter to Christmas caroling. Anything goes!

40. ✦ Eat a Candy Cane

41. ✦ Kiss Someone Under the Mistletoe

42. ✦ Take a Family Christmas Photo

Peter & Annette White's Family Christmas Photo (Christmas Bucket List)

43. ✦ Look at the Holiday Lights in your Neighborhood

Fill your thermos with hot chocolate, load up the car with your family and give your eyes a special holiday treat by driving through the neighborhoods in search of the best light display. Check with your city, many of them make holiday light maps for you to follow.

44. ✦ Wear a Santa Hat in Public

Annette White during the holidays in Australia

45. ✦ Leave Cookies for Santa Claus

Last, but not least for your Christmas bucket list, on December 24th leave cookies for Santa Claus…even if you don’t believe in him anymore. You can eat them in the morning!

Christmas Bucket List: 45 Things to Do This Holiday to Get You in the Spirit


Winter Bucket List: 20 Fun Things to Do

Being Grateful: 100 Things to Be Thankful For Today

Take a Christmas Market Cruise Along the Rhine River

California Dreaming: 9 Incredible Winter Stops in the Yosemite Valley

5 Cute Winter Jackets Fit for Travel

2018-01-07T20:21:25+00:00 November 28th, 2017|Categories: BUCKET LISTS|Tags: , |


  1. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures December 3, 2011 at 6:56 am - Reply

    Love this, especially Day 20!

    • Annette White December 3, 2011 at 7:00 am - Reply

      Heck yeah! My husband is going to be in trouble on day 20 😉

  2. Heather December 3, 2011 at 7:42 am - Reply

    Love it!! I found my box of Christmas decorations this morning and started hanging things around the house. Going to adopt a few things here 🙂

    • Annette White December 3, 2011 at 8:56 am - Reply

      I’m hoping the list will help me prolong the Christmas spirit 🙂

  3. 50+ and on the Run December 3, 2011 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Whew, sounds exhausting! Didja put up the lights today?

    • Annette White December 3, 2011 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      Not yet! I have to hurry before midnight 🙂

  4. Simply Paul December 3, 2011 at 11:21 pm - Reply

    I thing this is a great idea however it confused the hell out of me…23 days to Christmas? "But Christmas is the 25th not the 24th" I shout. Then I got clever and read the date of the post 😛

    • Annette White December 3, 2011 at 11:39 pm - Reply


  5. Carola December 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    Excellent list.  Love making snow angels.  Want to go sledding this Christmas season.

    • Annette White December 4, 2011 at 2:57 pm - Reply

      Sledding is a ton of fun, except for the part where you have to lug the sled uphill 😉 Can’t they have sled lifts?

  6. Jen December 5, 2011 at 10:57 am - Reply

    Lol I love the outdo the neighbours!! my type of goal 🙂 sounds perfect!x

    • Annette White December 5, 2011 at 12:02 pm - Reply

      Send pictures if you outdo them this year! I want to see 🙂

  7. Darin Sanders December 7, 2011 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Great list to get and stay in the Christmas spirit! I especially love all the giving back!

  8. Fidel December 9, 2011 at 8:46 am - Reply

    So how's the list coming along? Have you done everything up til today?

    • Annette White December 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm - Reply

      Doing pretty good so far. But, the “making a snowman” is going to be tough because there is no snow nearby! Maybe I can make it out of ice cream 😉

  9. Victoria November 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    Wow. What an extensive journey. Love it.
    I’ve created a template so any of you can print out your own bucket list!
    You can also read my Christmas bucket list if you choose.


    • Annette | Bucket List Journey November 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm - Reply

      Making a printable holiday bucket list is a GREAT idea and it’s cute too!

  10. […] If you’re looking for a Christmas bucket list, this might be it. […]

  11. Diego Lopes December 6, 2017 at 11:30 am - Reply

    Don’t you just love Christmas? Such a wonderful time full of joy!

    • Annette White December 7, 2017 at 10:47 pm - Reply

      I do love it!! Mostly because of the smell of Christmas trees 🙂

  12. […] the school holidays now in sight, it’s time to start thinking about those Christmas bucket lists! One thing that is at the top of our list is going to see Disney on Ice’s Passport to […]

  13. Joe Allenby December 15, 2017 at 6:08 am - Reply

    Christmas is near and we all are preparing for it.This Christmas bucket is the best thing I found on the internet today.And this Christmas Season I will Follow all the things mentioned on this list.

  14. Veronica Cavanaugh December 19, 2017 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    Great bucket list! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Suzanne Stewart June 14, 2018 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    One comment…if you DO this list one day at a time, your Advent calendar will be created long after Advent starts, which is either 4 Sundays before Christmas, for a religious Advent, or 1st December, for a secular Advent. DO IT FIRST, and then you can countdown to Christmas Day as you go through the rest of the activities!

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