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How to Make a Holiday Bucket List

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As a minimalist, holidays can be tough. We live in a culture focused on gift-giving, and I’ve often found myself disillusioned by the holidays, even angry. 

Why does Christmas have to be all about stuff? Why can’t we focus on something else, something more fun??

Yes, I know Christmas is a religious holiday. And if that’s your jam, great! But if it’s not, it can be hard to find meaning in a season where your only secular option is a bunch of tinsel-wrapped trinkets. 

Thus, a few years ago I developed a tradition called the Holiday Bucket List. It helps us celebrate the joy in the entire holiday season, not just the short-lived excitement of opening presents. The bucket list puts our focus on being together, making memories, and savoring experiences. (Plus, it’s really easy to do!) 

If you’d like to create a holiday season that feels more joyful and connected, keep reading!  

What’s a Holiday Bucket List?

A holiday bucket list is a list of fun activities your family would like to do before the end of the holidays. When I make this list with my kids, I emphasize that the things should cost little to no money. (This ensures that we focus on experiences, not acquiring stuff.) 

Things we’ve put on our Holiday Bucket Lists over the years include: 

  • Ice-skating
  • Go see Christmas lights
  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Watch “Elf”
  • Bake cookies
  • Go caroling (Funny story… My daughter put this on our first-ever bucket list and I was like, “Umm… We’ve never gone caroling before. I don’t even know how to do it!” But with the help of Google and some neighbors we made it a really fun night.) 

When do you make the list? 

We create ours after Thanksgiving. (Yeah, I’m one of those diehards who says, “No Christmas until after Thanksgiving!”) But you can do it anytime. If you believe that the holiday season starts in October, go for it! (We’ll just agree to disagree about the official start of the holidays. 😉) 

How do I make it? 

I believe in Simple with a capital S! My holiday bucket lists are usually made with blank computer paper and markers. Then we stick it on the fridge. Done. 

One important thing: EVERYONE CONTRIBUTES TO THE LIST. We usually sit around the dinner table and everyone adds 1-2 things. (And believe me, with a family of five, this provides plenty of holiday experiences for December!) The goal of this list is to add fun and joy to your holiday season, not stress. So keep it simple and sweet. You can always add more activities if you want.

It’s also okay if you don’t end up doing all the activities on the list. There are years we haven’t completed the list and that’s okay. Fun was still had by all! 

What if I’m single or an empty-nester?

You should definitely make a Holiday Bucket List for yourself and your friends! Holiday joy is for all of us. There’s no reason you need to do typical family activities. 

Ask yourself… What do I enjoy most about the holidays? What brings me happiness? 

Take a moment and harken back to your favorite holiday memories… What made them special? How could you recreate some of that joy in your life now? 

I hope this post helps you bring more meaning and fun back into your holidays. Because when we focus intentionally on making connections with our loved ones, it truly can be the best time of the year. 

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PS: If you’re a busy working mom who wants to simplify your work-mom life, but aren’t sure where to start… join me for my FREE *live* masterclass: How to Declutter Your Family’s Home Without Exhausting Yourself or Resorting to Threats.

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