15 Awesome Activities for Your Christmas Bucket List
Looking for ideas to freshen up the holidays? Here's everything you need for a season of family fun—and you can do it all without breaking the bank.
Photo: Shutterstock / Sascha Burkard
1. Cut your own Christmas tree
Whether you travel far into the country to find your tree, or drive across town to the nearest Christmas tree farm, nothing beats the beloved tradition of cutting down your own tree, or the piney scent that fills the whole house.
Photo: Shutterstock / bodhichita
2. Go for a drive to view Christmas lights
I don’t know if there is anything that conveys the magic of Christmas quite as well as all those twinkling lights. There’s something warm and fuzzy about seeing all those other families who all share the same excitement for the holiday season. Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without the lovely sound of Christmas music to get everyone into the spirit.
3. Bake and decorate sugar cookies
Is there a better smell than fresh-baked holiday cookies? Children of all ages love to decorate (and eat!) sugar cookies.
Photo: Taste of Home
4. Make hot cocoa from scratch
Get your kids in the kitchen and make your own cocoa (with marshmallows, of course!). It just tastes better when you make it yourself. After you’ve had your fill, why not make a large batch of this mix to split up for teachers and friends? Gift-giving, done!
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5. Go sledding
If it’s snowy where you are, take a day (or two, or three) and go sledding and have a snowball fight. It’s so easy to get cooped up inside during the winter months, but getting bundled up and expending a little energy in the fresh air does everyone some good. If you live in a warmer spot, why not have a winter picnic and eat these icy treats instead?
Photo: Shutterstock / George Burba
6. Build a gingerbread house
Whether you buy a kit or make your gingerbread house from scratch, you’re going to have some serious holiday fun. Upside-down sugar cones make excellent landscaping. Use graham crackers for a backyard shed. As for the decorating, the possibilities are endless with all the candy choices out there. This royal icing recipe is sure to secure your candy decor in place.
Photo: Shutterstock / OnlyZoia
7. Make your own ornaments
Handmade ornaments couldn’t be any simpler or more fun, and they make excellent gifts from the kids. Start with a firm gingerbread cookie dough or salt dough, then decorate away with cookie cutters, hand (or paw!) prints, rubber stamps, paints—whatever you like! For another twist on homemade ornaments, how about these popcorn balls?
Photo: Shutterstock / Yuganov Konstantin
8. Write and deliver a letter to Santa Claus
Help your child send a letter to Santa. Send it through USPS’ Santa Mail, or the Believe program at Macy’s, which allows children to drop their letters into a special mailbox that delivers directly to the North Pole. The best part is, Macy’s donates to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for every letter it receives.
Photo: Shutterstock / Romrodphoto
9. Camp under your Christmas tree
Grab your sleeping bags and snuggle up—this is sure to be a night to remember. Gazing up into the lights on your tree will be magical for everyone. Perhaps you’ll doze off discussing your favorite moments the past year, or talking about your plans for the year to come.
Photo: Shutterstock / AllieAndSebastian
10. Host a cookie exchange
Instead of a cocktail party, why not have a cookie exchange this year? Each couple brings a batch of their best cookie along with enough copies of the printed recipe for everyone. To make it more competitive, you could also have everyone vote for their favorite cookie, and the winner could get a special prize (or just bragging rights!). Bonus points if you pair the event with an ugly sweater contest or a white elephant gift exchange.
Photo: Shutterstock / Elena Elisseeva
11. Snuggle up by a fire
Be it a bonfire outside or one in your fireplace, one thing is for certain: Everyone loves to gather by a fire. Make sure to have the fixin’s for s’mores and hot dogs to cook over the fire. Don’t have access to a fire, but still want the s’mores? Here are 19 ways to make them.
Photo: Shutterstock / Yuganov Konstantin
12. Make paper snowflakes
Paper snowflakes are a great craft for younger children; they’re easy to do, require few supplies, and provide instant gratification. Simple fold up different sizes of paper and snip away. Kids will be filled with pride as their handmade decorations are displayed inside for all to see.
Photo: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images
13. Have a pajama day
Keep your jammies on or change into a pair of new ones you bought especially for the day. Then dig into a breakfast casserole so everyone can power up for a day of fun and relaxing. Bake cookies, do crafts, or maybe even have a movie marathon! Whatever you do, the day will be filled with lots of love and laughter.
Photo: Shutterstock / tomertu
14. Create homemade snow globes
To make your own snow globe, you’ll need mason jars, glue, glitter, distilled water, glycerin and the figurines you’d like to put inside the globe. Simply glue your decorations to the lid of the mason jar. Next, fill the jar almost to the top with distilled water. Add a pinch (or more) of glitter and a dash of glycerin. Screw the lid on tightly and swirl it around, causing the glitter to incorporate throughout the water. And there you have it! Your very own snow globe.
Photo: Shutterstock / 1000 Words
15. Go Christmas caroling
Bundle up and walk through your neighborhood, offering cheerful music and warm smiles to anyone listening in. Or take your show on the road and sing at a nursing home, school, local store or anywhere else you’d like to go. No matter what, a few hours of caroling will be sure to brighten people’s day (including your own).