About this time every year, I print out a lengthy list of fun family traditions I want to remember to do during the Christmas season. I’ve shared many renditions of this “Holiday Bucket List” in the past, including this bare-bones original plus this vintage, black & white version.
I have a new one this year. It matches these other “50 Fun Things” lists I’ve posted in the past:
- 50 Fun Family Activities for Spring
- 50 Things to Do for Summer Fun
- 50 Fun Family Activities for Fall
- 50 Things to Do for Winter Fun
- 50 Frugal Ideas for Family Fun
and for my more health-conscious readers…
- 50 Wholesome, Quick & Easy Snack Ideas
As always, we use these lists to jog our memories. They simply remind us of all our options. We don’t view them as a hard and fast inventory of “must-do” chores.
If something on the list sounds fun at the moment and we have time to fit it in, we will. If not, we won’t sweat the fact that some of our boxes remain unchecked when the holiday season winds to a close. If you compare my Christmas lists through the ages, you’ll see a lot of our favorite activities have remained unchanged.
Others come and go. As our children get older and circumstances change, we’ve dropped some traditions and established new ones. That’s one reason we compile a new list every so often.
50 Fun Things to Do this Christmas:
Take a family photo
For tips on taking portraits you’ll be proud of, go here.
Go Christmas shopping
If you do most of your shopping online, like I do, be sure to install Ebates free cashback button to earn money back on almost every purchase.
Deck the halls
Studies show that people who decorate for Christmas early are happier. I just love it when science validates my personal preferences! 😀
String popcorn & cranberries for the birds
Send Christmas cards
This is a tradition I definitely recommend starting ASAP, and include a newsy update (For patterns, templates, and how-to suggestions, check out this post). It’s so much fun to go back and read through your old Christmas letters as a family. We do that every year.
Read A Christmas Carol aloud
You can’t beat Dickens for Christmas reading. We’ve read A Christmas Carol more times than we can count. Several scenes still move us to tears. My paperback copy has grown brittle and dog-eared, so I just ordered this gorgeously illustrated hardback version from Amazon to read from this year (Want one? You can use the code NOVBOOK18 at checkout to save $5 off this or any other book. (aff. link)
Bake cookies for the neighbors
Our peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are quick and delicious. And easy enough for kids to bake on their own.
Drive around to look at Christmas lights
For extra fun, print out a few of our Christmas Travel Bingo Cards and let the kids play while you drive through decorated neighborhoods.
Put lights up at your own house
This is on my family’s to-do list today, provided the weather accommodates us!
Do a random act of kindness
Make an advent calendar
Sing 12 Days of Christmas in rounds
We spring this group activity on party guests by placing these 12 Days of Christmas stickers under their plates and having them sing the verse assigned to them.
Memorize Luke 2:1-20
My father always read this passage aloud to us on Christmas morning, and now my husband does the same. After so many hearings, I have it down pat, and most of our children have committed it to memory, as well. We review it every December until they can recite it smoothly. I use this free printable coloring page to make sure we’re all learning the same version.
Go to a Christmas tree farm
For as long as I can remember, we’ve always had an artificial tree, but we still like to visit a tree farm on occasion and bring home clippings to decorate the banisters and mantle.
Make homemade ornaments
Watch Miracle on 34th Street
We prefer the 1947 version with Maureen O’Hara, Edmund Gwynn, and a young Natalie Wood.
Ring bells for Salvation Army
Bell ringing for the Salvation Army has long been another of our family’s Christmas traditions. Sometimes we bring instruments — triangles, harmonicas, or violins — and sometimes we just sing carols. It’s easy to volunteer for this job. At least in Tyler, you can even sign up online.
Take hot cocoa to other bell ringers
Speaking from experience, they really appreciate it — especially when the weather is bitter cold!
Camp out in sleeping bags under the Christmas tree
By this, I mean indoor camping. On the living room floor. Here in Texas, we might get away with sleeping under an outdoor tree, but if you tried that in colder, northern climes, you might not make it through the night. Brrr!
Attend a Christmas concert
Watch It’s a Wonderful Life
This is my all-time favorite Christmas movie, and I know countless others feel the same way. Isn’t it funny how a movie that bombed at the box office could be so beloved by future generations? If you don’t already own a copy, you can watch it for free this month with a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime. (aff. link)
Hang a Christmas wreath on your door
Put a CD of Christmas music in the car
We have Bing Crosby’s Classic Christmas CD playing in ours right now.
Read How the Grinch Stole Christmas
This classic children’s book isn’t just for children. Reading about how the Grinch learned to think of others this time of year can help us do the same.
Hang mistletoe in master bedroom
I like to tie a cluster to the headboard of our bed with a strip of red satin ribbon.
Drink hot cocoa
Make fantasy fudge
I use the recipe on the back of the marshmallow creme jar. It’s creamy and delicious. Don’t forget the pecans if you aren’t contending with a nut allergy.
Write or call out-of-town friends/family
With Facetime or Skype, it’s the next best thing to having dear ones right in the same room with you.
Leave a treat in your box for the postman
They deliver your mail in rain, sleet, and snow. Christmas is a great time to show your appreciation.
Watch White Christmas
We’ve already checked this one off our list this year. I love all the music in this one. Even though a real, live White Christmas is a rarity in Texas, we can still dream of getting one, can’t we?
Have a cup of eggnog
Although I’m not an eggnog or a coffee drinker myself, I’m willing to stock both for family and guests who enjoy it.
Stage a gift wrapping contest
Who can wrap the most, the fastest, the fanciest, the funniest?
Go Christmas caroling
We love caroling through our neighborhood. When friends join us, I print copies of favorite Christmas songs and hymns so we’ll all be on the same page. I also put out the word for neighbors who are home and willing to be serenaded to leave their porch lights on for us.
Exchange white elephant gifts
Work a Christmas puzzle
I have such fond memories of listening to my parents visit with my aunts and uncles over a challenging jigsaw once the kids had gone to bed. Our family completes several favorites every Christmas. We especially like family puzzles with different sized pieces so that all ages can work on it together.
Make paper chains for the tree
Make a gingerbread house
We usually buy a kit for this activity. And we normally do it after Christmas (once everything’s been marked down 50-90%).
This is a traditional meal for Latin American posadas, but one we happily adopt. Good homemade tamales are hard to beat! We order ours from somebody who knows what she’s doing. 🙂
Make some luminarias
You can safely enjoy this festive look with battery-powered “candles” in paper bags weighted with sand.
Roast chestnuts on an open fire
We had these in Europe, where they sell them on the street corners all winter long. Yum!
Serve dinner at a soup kitchen
Our local soup kitchen sometimes has more helpers than homeless on Thanksgiving and Christmas, so think about volunteering sometime in between.
This quirky movie makes us laugh every time we watch it. We love Buddy’s take on the four basic food groups: Candy, Candy Canes, Candy Corn, and Syrup!
Host a birthday party for Jesus
Eat a candy cane
Adopt a new family tradition
Need inspiration? Check out my Family Christmas Traditions Pinterest board.
Hang Christmas stockings
For inspiration on what to fill them with, check out this post.
Attend a candlelight service
Watch Home Alone
My kids like this movie more than I do. We’ve made the mistake of occasionally leaving one at home alone. Not for long, mind you, but we have made it out of the driveway a couple of times before we finished counting heads and realized we were missing a child. I think this movie consoles them that their version of being Home Alone could have been much worse.
Send thank you notes
Pray about New Year’s goals
I can’t think of a better way to ring in the New Year than on your knees. For keeping track of all your goals and resolutions, check out these resources.
Thanksgiving came early this year, so we’ll effectively have an extra week to fit in more fun. And since I’m posting this early, now you will, too! 🙂
If the activities on our list appeal to you and your family, you’re welcome to print ours out and use it yourselves. You can download it by clicking on the image below:
If our list doesn’t suit you, I’d encourage you to sit down with your family this week and brainstorm together. Come up with a list — long or short — of fun and/or meaningful family activities to celebrate the season in a way that’s all your own.